Nutritionist explains cardamom health benefits

Whether you're looking for a spice to pair with sweet or savory foods, chances are you'll turn to cardamom the next time you go to the grocery store. Experts agree that the health benefits of cardamom are something you shouldn’t miss.

"Cardamom is a wonderful spice with a warm, aromatic flavor and can be used in a variety of ways," says Amy Gorin, registered dietitian and owner of Plant-Based Eatery in Stamford, Connecticut. It's especially popular in South Asian dishes like curry, as well as in Scandinavian pastries, according to a 2014 study in Chinese Medicine . According to traditional Chinese medicine, cardamom consists of the whole or dried fruit or seeds of the cardamom plant, which belongs to the ginger family. It originated in India and is also most commonly grown in Sri Lanka and Guatemala.

Most recipes may use a few teaspoons of herbal spices for flavoring—which means, not enough to make a huge impact on your health right away. But read on for some cardamom health benefits to make your next chai latte feel better.

Cardamom may improve cholesterol levels in diabetics

In a 2014 study in Diabetes Research Reviews, people with type 2 diabetes drank black tea containing cardamom, cinnamon, ginger or saffron for two months, while drinking tea with nothing added. Goering explained that subjects who consumed the spice noticed improvements in their total LDL "bad" cholesterol and HDL "good" cholesterol levels. This is important because high cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Cardamom may help lower blood pressure, prevent cancer

Brigitte Zeitlin, registered dietitian and owner of BZ Nutrition in New York, says: “If you’re stressed, cardamom is a great spice to add to your daily routine and reduces your risk of heart disease, both of which Diseases can cause elevated blood pressure."

In a 2009 study in the Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics , 20 adults with newly diagnosed hypertension consumed 3 grams of cardamom powder daily for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, their blood pressure levels dropped significantly, all the way to the normal range, which the researchers believe may be related to the high antioxidant content in cardamom. Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells from free radicals, which can be linked to harmful diseases such as heart disease and cancer. In fact, a 2015 study from Proteomics showed that a specific compound in cardamom, gamma-bisabolene, may help prevent the proliferation of oral cancer cells. But since this was a test-tube study, more research in humans is needed.

Zeitlin says another way cardamom may also help lower blood pressure is that animal studies show it can act as a diuretic, meaning it helps flush out excess fluid, which can help lower blood pressure levels.

Cardamom may help prevent bad breath

If you've noticed that cardamom has a minty flavor, then you're probably on to something. In fact, according to a 2012 article in the Journal of Dental Research , it's common in Indian culture to chew whole cardamom pods after meals to keep breath fresh. While it's not a replacement for toothpaste, "[cardamom extract may] also fight five different bacteria in the mouth that cause bad breath and cavities," Zeitlin adds. However, more human studies are needed to support this effect.

How to add cardamom to your daily life

Like most spices, you can use cardamom in a variety of ways to flavor your favorite foods and drinks.

“You can use cardamom in everything from curries to pastries to spicy drinks,” Gorin says. "Sprinkle a little into your black tea or milk tea latte, or spice up rice or even fruit salad."

"You can also add cardamom to stews, stir-fries, and winter beverages like tea, lattes, and hot cider," Zeitlin adds. "It also pairs really well with cinnamon, so feel free to add both to your banana bread recipes."

Research reference: Wu M. (2014). Identification of seven Zingiberaceae plants based on comparative anatomy of seed microscopic characteristics, Traditional Chinese Medicine, .

Azimi, P. (2014). Effects of cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, and ginger consumption on glycemic control, blood lipids, oxidative stress, and inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes, Diabetes Research Review, . Verna SK. (2009). Antihypertensive, fibrinolytic enhancing and antioxidant activities of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Y. (2015) . Quantitative phosphoproteomic analysis reveals that γ-bisabolene induces p53-mediated apoptosis in human oral squamous cell carcinoma via HDAC2 inhibition and ERK1/2 activation, Proteomics, https: //pubmed.ncbi.nlm. .

Gilani. (2008). Intestinal regulatory, hypotensive, diuretic and sedative activities of cardamom, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, .

Aneja K. R. (2009). Antimicrobial activity of Amomum villosum and cardamom against cariogenic microorganisms, ResearchGate,

Sharma R. (2012). Cardamom comfort, Journal of Dental Research (Isfahan),


Amy Gorin, registered dietitian and owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, Connecticut

Brigitte Zeitlin is a registered dietitian and owner of BZ Nutrition in New York City .