Health Topics

Healthy Living

August 2011
The Goodness of Cardamom
Neha Gupta
Wake up and smell the fresh masala chai or have a nice savoury sweet with that dash of elaichi! Yes cardamom is essential to Indian cooking. Cardamom (Elaichi) is used for its pods. It gives a distinct sweet and pleasing flavour to the food it seasons. There are three kinds of cardamoms: black, green and white. Traditionally, Indian cooking uses only black and green cardamoms.

The cardamom pods contain fragrant seeds, which are used as whole, ground, or with pods. Many Indian meat, rice and dessert dishes use cardamom as one of the main spices. Cardamoms are also an essential part of spice mixtures such as Garam Masala.
Indian spices are well known for their medicinal properties, and cardamom is no exception.

Medicinal Properties of Cardamom
  • It contains many plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.
  • Cardamom is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Potassium in an important component of cells and body fluids, that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
  • It is also an excellent source of manganese and iron. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.
  • Cardamom pods are rich in many vital vitamins including riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C, that are essential for good health.
  • The therapeutic properties of cardamom oil have found application in many traditional medicines as antiseptic, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, stimulant and tonic.
  • Cardamom can mitigate digestive disorders. It relieves gas and heartburn. Ground cardamom seeds mixed with ginger and cloves, is an extremely effective remedy for indigestion. Tea infused with cardamom can reduce headache caused by indigestion.
  • Gargling with an infusion of cardamom and cinnamon cures pharyngitis, sore throat, and relaxes uvula (the fleshy portion at the back of the tongue) and hoarseness during the early stages of influenza. Gargling daily with cardamom protects one from the flu.
  • Apart from these multiple properties, the aromatic flavour of cardamom acts as a natural mouth freshener. A few seeds chewed for a brief period can curb the problem of bad breath.

Neha Gupta is Lifestyle Counsellor, Apollo Life, New Delhi.