What is cardamom?

Cardamom – named the 'queen of the spices' – belongs to the same spice family as ginger. It's cultivated in India, Sri Lanka and Central America and has been used in culinary and traditional medicine practices since ancient times. It has warming properties, like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger and enhances both sweet and savoury dishes from around the world. Whole pods feature prominently in meat and rice dishes such as curries, whereas the ground form is used in desserts, especially pastries and Scandinavian breads.


Health benefits of cardamom include:

  • Aids digestion
  • Freshens breath
  • Balances blood sugar levels
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps treat bronchitis
  • Acts as a stimulant improving circulation
  • Helps manage diabetes
  • Alleviates gastrointestinal discomfort during pregnancy
  • Helps treat stomach ulcers

Check out some of our cardamom recipes from cardamom buns to butter chicken.

Cake club cardamom buns

Nutritional profile:

One teaspoon (3g) of ground cardamom contains:

  • 6 kcal
  • 0.22g protein
  • 1.37g carbohydrate
  • 0.56g fibre

What are the top health benefits of cardamom?

1. Can help digestion

Cardamom seeds contain a large amount of volatile oils and have been used medicinally as a digestive aid for years. These volatile oils relieve excess gas, while improving digestive function and provide natural support to the intestine – easing bloating.

2. Can freshen breath

Chewing cardamom seeds is an ancient method for freshening breath. Seeds contain an oil called cineole, which is known for its antimicrobial properties. Cineole kills the unhealthy bacteria present on the palate and tongue, promoting oral health.

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3. May balance blood sugar

Cardamom powder may lower blood sugar. One study examining rats fed a high fat, high carbohydrate diet with cardamom powder supplements – it showed an improvement in blood sugar levels compared to those on the diet alone. However, more research in humans is needed. In addition, cardamom is a rich source of manganese, which may play a role in managing blood sugar levels.

carrot halwa with cardamom

4. May lower blood pressure

Cardamom contains antioxidants, which have been linked to lower blood pressure. It is also known to act as a diuretic further helping to reduce blood pressure.

5. May help treat bronchitis

Cardamom might be useful in managing bronchitis and associated symptoms due to its expectorant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps loosen mucus and congestion from the lungs to give relief in bronchitis.

6. May improve circulation

It's a warming, stimulant spice that improves circulation and acts as a diaphoretic (makes you sweat), moving heat out to the periphery of the body. The essential oil can be used in massage to boost circulation.

7. May have a protective effect on certain diseases

Similarly to the effects of cardamom on blood sugars, supplementation has been shown to have a protective effect on serum lipids, glycemic indices and blood pressure in overweight and obsessive pre-diabetic women.

8. May ease morning sickness

Cardamom has been shown to help with morning sickness during pregnancy. This is due to the essential oils – similar to those found in ginger.

9. May help treat gastric ulcers

The extracted volatile oils from cardamom may have a positive influence on gastric ulcers. It is also found to offer protection against Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium linked to stomach ulcers.

lentil and cardamom soup

Cardamom pods vs cardamom seeds

Cardamom pods contain 8-16 seeds that are then ground to form powder. The pods, seeds and powder are all used in seasoning. The pods can be crushed to expose the seeds and their flavour during cooking. The seeds can also be toasted and ground with a pestle and mortar. A little goes a long way and watch out when cooking with whole pods as biting into them can be quite unpleasant.

Is cardamom safe for everyone?

There are no apparent risks of consuming cardamom, especially in cooking as part of a balanced diet.

Cardamom is one of the most widely used spices and features in many sweet and savoury dishes. The seeds found inside the green pods contain essential oils with a range of health benefits. It aids digestion, helps control blood pressure, and can even alleviate morning sickness. Additionally, it's rich in antioxidants, which can help boost the immune system. Experts continue to study cardamom's potential benefits, but in the meantime this spice can make a great addition to your cupboard.

Try these:

  • Pilau rice is a classic dish using cardamom. Learn how to make it by following our easy pilau rice recipe.
  • Traditional cardamom biscuits – known as Nankhatai – go wonderfully with a serving of tea.
  • It's soup season. Consider adding in cardamom to some of these delicious autumn soup recipes.
  • Suffering from morning sickness? You can find loads more in our healthy pregnancy diet guide.
  • Interested in more information on what to eat for your health? Check out our health hub.

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