Black cardamom (subulatum Amomum Roxb.), which is not black, is deep dark brown and much larger than the original green one.
It is cultivated from the Himalayas to South China, in Madagascar, Somalia, and Cameroon; there is a variety in East Africa called grains of paradise with a similar flavor.
It comes in woody pods about 3 cm. on average, brown, wrinkled, and full of seeds. It has a fresh and intense aroma, much more rustic than the green one, but it is softer, smokier, and with a hint of camphor that makes it very characteristic and recognizable.
The black variety is perfect for spicy and rustic dishes; the green variety is the queen of imperial cuisine, elegant and refined. It has a delicate and sweet blend of fragrances.
Keep in mind that this dark variation is not a substitute for the green one. It has its own characteristics and fulfills its role in stews and some natural remedies.
As detailed in an article published in the Journal of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants, this ingredient originated in India and has been used in traditional medicine for centuries.
5 Main benefits of black cardamom
The seeds and essential oil have interesting medicinal applications. While they are not a first-choice treatment for diseases, they seem to be an adjuvant to promote well-being.
According to a chapter in the book Nuts and Seeds in Health and Disease Prevention, this spice has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties that explain its health effects.
In addition, it is safe for most people and can be included in many daily preparations. What is it good for?
1. Helps regulate blood pressure
Patients with high blood pressure can benefit from consuming cardamom. According to a study reported in the Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics, these “seeds” help reduce high blood pressure in patients with primary hypertension.
In addition, it increases fibrinolysis and improves antioxidant status. It is not entirely clear why the spice may have this effect on health.
However, researchers suspect that it is due to its mild diuretic effect, which stimulates the elimination of fluids retained in the body, a risk factor for hypertension.
2. Arterial hypertension
Again, cardamom could be a blood pressure regulator that contributes to the treatment of hypertensive patients.
3. Protects against chronic diseases
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, cardamom decreases the risk of chronic non-communicable diseases, such as those grouped in the category of metabolic syndrome.
Although the state of inflammation is necessary to some extent, it can trigger serious health problems in the long term.
However, as research in the medical journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy details, cardamom contains polyphenol compounds, flavonoids, and terpenoids that help to cope with inflammation.
Specifically, a dose of 50 to 100 mg per kg of body weight could inhibit four inflammatory compounds in rat studies.
4. Contributes to digestive health
One of the most prominent benefits of cardamom has to do with digestive health. Evidence suggests that its combination with other medicinal spices can soothe common symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.
In an animal study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, cardamom extracts combined with other spices helped reduce ulcer formation.
In addition, test tube studies suggest that it may protect against Helicobacter pylori, a major cause of acid reflux, ulcers, and digestive problems.
5. Supports oral health
Another traditional use has to do with oral health. In fact, it is an ingredient that is still used to combat bad breath and in the manufacture of chewing gum for the same purpose.
A study published in Dental Research Journal highlights that this spice is effective against oral pathogenic bacteria such as Streptococcus mutants and Candida albicans.
Likewise, a 2009 study showed that, in test tube cases, cardamom extracts were useful in combating five bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Specifically, they were effective in inhibiting their growth. However, more research is still needed to prove these effects in humans.
Other benefits of cardamom
Using it in aromatherapy may help improve breathing and airflow to the lungs during exercise, according to the results of a study shared in the Journal of Health and Allied Science.
You may want to read: Shatavari Benefits According to Ayurveda
The extract obtained from this spice appears to help reduce elevated levels of liver enzymes, triglycerides, and cholesterol, as noted in some studies.
Due to its concentration of antioxidants, cardamom also has positive effects in controlling anxious behaviors.
Is it safe to consume black cardamom?
There is no data to support any negative effects of consuming white, green, or black cardamom. Therefore, it is considered safe in healthy adults, although it is advised to moderate its intake.
On the other hand, it is not recommended for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, as there is no data on its safety in these stages.
The best way to reap the benefits of this spice is to add it naturally to meals. While supplements are available, they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, they should be taken with caution.
It is advisable to crush it a little, break the shell to release its aromas, but with caution as the seeds would come out, and it would be most unpleasant to find them when eating.
You can also put the grains in a teabag.
The black cardamom does not dominate a dish; it only intensifies the other flavors and brings a smoky touch.
Types of cardamom
Green cardamom is the most usual. Its pod is green and thin, full of black seeds inside. It is used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Black cardamom differs in its fragrance, more camphorous, and its spicy flavor. Its pod is thick, large, rough, and dark in color. It is perfect for adding to strong, rustic, and spicy dishes.
There is yet a third type of cardamom, less known: White cardamom. These are green cardamom seeds that have been bleached.
Its origins date back to the times when spices were transported by ship from India to Scandinavia.
Exposure to sun, air and salt bleached the seeds, slightly altering their flavor. Thus, by the time it reached land, the green cardamom had become white.
In northern Europe, this rarity is still used today in breads and cakes.
Recipe: cardamom and almond cookies
- 2 cups oat flour or whole wheat flour
- 4 tablespoons cardamom powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup butter or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup Stevia or Splenda
- 1/2 cup ground almonds
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom
- Almonds cut in half
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC
- Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil
- Combine the flour, cardamom, and salt
In a separate bowl, mix the butter or coconut oil until creamy and add the Stevia or Splenda.
Continue beating, gradually incorporate the flour mixture until everything is well incorporated and add the almonds.
In another bowl mix the coconut sugar and cardamom.
Roll the dough into balls and coat with the sugar and cardamom mixture; place the balls on the baking sheet with a gap between each one.
Take a flat-bottomed glass, dip it in the cardamom sugar mixture and use it to flatten the balls until they are about one centimeter thick. Garnish with the almonds in half.
Bake for 12 minutes or until bright brown, let cool completely before eating.