We’re all thinking a lot about our health this year, particularly our lung health. All of a sudden, free and easy breathing is something we no longer take for granted! There are a lot of things you can do to make sure your lungs are as healthy as possible. While you most certainly already know some, like not smoking and regularly doing cardio workouts, there are others you may not have heard of. One exciting way to boost your lung health is to add Cardamom into your diet.
What is Cardamom?
What is it? A powerful spice for lung health, that is what! Cardamom is an ancient remedy that has many medicinal properties. It is incredibly popular in Asia, particularly to the billions in India and the surrounding region. Cardamom, also known as “Elaichi,” is used in almost every Indian household. It has an intense, slightly sweet flavor that some people compare to mint. While this spice provides an amazing flavor and aroma to dishes, it’s far from just tasty. What’s lesser known about Cardamom here in the West is its ability to boost your lung health.
What Health Benefits will You Enjoy?
Nature has provided us with so many delicious ways to get and stay healthy. Cardamom is one of them! Below are just a few of the reasons to add this spice to your diet:
#1 It is Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are important to maintaining optimal health and help stall aging of the respiratory system. Some types of nutrient-rich foods, especially those rich in antioxidants, are known to help our lungs perform best. Cardamom has a strong antioxidant profile and that helps combat free radical damage caused by pollution. When outside factors like stress, cigarette smoke, pollution, and alcohol are introduced, it can cause disruptions in the natural process and destroy your lung health. This creates these free radicals, which are highly unstable and potential cancer-causing molecules. Antioxidant-rich foods, like those containing Cardamom, contribute to the neutralization of the type of free radicals that destroy lung cells.
#2 It Reduces Phlegm
Mucous build up in our lungs is the defense mechanism in our body in response to anything that shouldn’t be in there. This is done naturally in order to trap toxins and pollutants, but excess mucus causes breathing issues and acts as a perfect breeding ground for pathogens. Cardamom has an active ingredient called Cineole. Cineole has the ability to break down mucus and expel it out of the system. This is particularly useful for individuals who are asthmatic, suffer from bronchitis, pneumonia, or have their respiratory passages choked up due to excess mucus and inflammation. Essentially, Cardamom acts as a natural expectorant!
#3 It Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation occurs when your body is exposed to foreign substances. Acute inflammation is necessary and beneficial, but long-term inflammation can lead to chronic diseases. Cardamom is rich in compounds that are known to fight inflammation. This is why it is known as a powerful anti-inflammatory spice.
Antioxidants found in abundance in Cardamom protect your cells from damage and stop inflammation from occurring. This includes inflammation in your lungs. One study found that Cardamom extract in doses of 23 to 46 mg per pound of body weight was effective in inhibiting at least four different inflammatory compounds in rats. Though there are not as many studies on the anti-inflammatory effects of Cardamom in humans, research shows that supplements containing Cardamom may increase antioxidant status by up to 90%!
#4 It Improves Breathing and Oxygen Use
Compounds in Cardamom may help increase airflow to your lungs and improve breathing. When used in aromatherapy, Cardamom can provide an invigorating odor that enhances your body’s ability to use oxygen during exercise. One study asked a group of participants to inhale Cardamom essential oil for one minute before walking on a treadmill for 15-minute intervals. This group had a significantly higher oxygen uptake compared to the control group.
Another way that cardamom may improve breathing and oxygen use is by relaxing your airway. This is why the spice has been shown to be particularly helpful for treating asthma. It may even prevent their inflamed airways from restricting and improve their breathing all around.
How can You Consume Cardamom?
The only question left to ask is how you actually eat or drink Cardamom to get all of the benefits listed above. The most common way to use cardamom is in cooking or baking. It’s very versatile and often added to Indian curries and stews, as well as gingerbread cookies, bread, and other baked goods. Many have now begun to add Cardamom to fresh, hot tea. Remember, it tastes very similar to mint.
If you don’t like the taste of it, you don’t have to miss out on all of the exciting benefits. The use of cardamom supplements, extracts, and essential oils is becoming more common in light of the promising results of research on its medicinal uses and exposure to cultures outside of India to the spice.
A quick word of advice. You never want to over consume any spice, including cardamom. One or two pods in one dish or drink once a day is going to be enough. This isn’t medicine or a vaccine, but it is a great way to further enhance your healthy living goals. When wellness is easy and delicious, it’s simple to achieve!