Elaichi as it is generally called in Hindi, is a very popular condiment added in various traditional Indian sweets or “desi mithai.” Its other local names include “Yelakka” in Malayalam, “Elakkai” in Tamil and Telugu and “Elchi” in Gujarati.
Besides its extensive use for culinary purposes, to season spicy gravies as well as to infuse aroma and sweetness to puddings, elaichi possesses immense potential in boosting physical and mental health, in addition to treating various illnesses. Not surprisingly, in ancient history as well as in the time-tested practice of Ayurveda, it is referred to as the “Queen of Spices”. Today, due to its very high demand, elaichi is the third most expensive spice worldwide, after saffron and vanilla.
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Known as cardamom in English, elaichi is obtained from many different types of plants that belong to the Zingiberaceae family. They can be easily spotted by their unique appearance, as tiny seed pods, triangular in shape, with a flimsy, papery outer shell encompassing a few black seeds. The elaichi plant is native to the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia, namely India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand and Malaysia.
Though the lime coloured seed is more preferred and available commercially, elaichi or cardamom is actually of two varieties, green cardamom and black cardamom.
Green Cardamom is derived from the plant species called Elettaria cardamomum. It is widely distributed from India through Malaysia and has a distinguishing, strong taste with a perfumed, resinous odour.
Black Cardamom is very common in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is procured from the Amomum subulatum plant that grows naturally in hilly terrains of Nepal, Bhutan and North-Eastern India, yielding a cooling, minty flavoured seed.
The noteworthy levels of nourishing components in elaichi make it a superior nutritional food. It is inherently rich in proteins and healthy fats, besides containing remarkable quantities of vitamin B6, vitamin B3, vitamin C, zinc, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Moreover, the potent antioxidants like flavonoids, plant esters and quercetin in elaichi confer useful anti-inflammatory traits, making it an effective natural remedy for curing a host of ailments.
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Adding merely a sprinkling of elaichi powder or seeds in the daily diet, or even using natural concoctions for skin and hair imbued with elaichi extracts will provide splendid incentives for both, enhanced physical fitness as well as sound mental functioning.
Elaichi/Cardamom Health Benefits:
Fights Bad Breath
Apart from its overpowering scent and delightful essence, elaichi contains vast reserves of antibacterial compounds. These assist in combating the microbes causing a foul mouth odour and improve dental hygiene.
After meals, chew on some elaichi buds, to instil freshness in the mouth and do away with bad breath.
Treats Respiratory Ailments
The age-old Indian system of medicine – Ayurveda highlights the ability of elaichi to warm the body and efficiently flush out any phlegm and irritable mucosal secretions clogging the lungs and nasal passage, simultaneously improving blood circulation in the respiratory organs.
Inhaling steam infused with a few drops of elaichi essential oil greatly relieves congestion, coughs and colds.
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A Natural Aphrodisiac
Elaichi is a powerful stimulant, that bolsters stamina for sexual activities. It also comprises valuable antioxidants that balance the reproductive hormones in the body, to effectively manage impotency and infertility.
Having a cup of warm elaichi herbal tea before bedtime is an excellent way to reinforce sexual vigour and vitality.
How To Make Cardamom Tea
5 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp honey
2 cups water
1/2 cup milk
Heat water in a pan on medium flame for 2 – 3 minutes.
To the warm water, add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and honey.
Mix well and allow to slowly come to a boil for 5 – 7 minutes.
Switch off the stove, filter the spiced liquid extract into 2 mugs and add some warm milk.
Sprinkle some ginger powder, soak in the uplifting aroma and enjoy the cup of hot cardamom tea.
Besides reaping the immense health incentives of cardamom, this tea also contains the essence of cinnamon, which regulates blood glucose and insulin levels in diabetes. Moreover, honey lowers triglyceride levels, aiding in controlling blood pressure fluctuations, aside from imparting an appetising saccharine taste.
Remedies Iron-Deficiency Anaemia
Being a rich source of the vital trace mineral iron, elaichi helps fight symptoms of anaemia such as dizziness and lethargy. It is also a powerhouse of vitamin C, which increases the absorption of iron by cells in the body.
Drinking a glass of hot milk after meals, with some elaichi powder, is an ideal way to combat anaemia and fatigue.
Augments Heart Health
Potassium is a key mineral required for the maintenance of electrolyte balance in the body. This is crucial to regulate blood pressure, so as to ensure optimal cardiac function. Elaichi possesses noteworthy levels of potassium, which control blood pressure fluctuations in hypertension.
Add a pinch of elaichi powder into staple Indian foods like dals, curries, sambar and kootu, to reap its superb advantages for boosting heart health.
Uplifts Liver Functions
Elaichi abounds in hepatoprotective elements, which remarkably detoxify the system and safeguard liver wellness. Ingesting just tiny amounts of cardamom powder in daily diet works wonders, to flush out harmful toxins from the hepatic tissues and steer clear of disorders like cirrhosis, fatty liver disease etc.
Lowers Risk Of Cancer
Possessing a treasure trove of anti-tumorigenic compounds such as indoles and cineole, cardamom effectively destroys harmful free radicals, curbing their accumulation in the body and preserving healthy tissues. The beneficial antioxidant activity of cardamom ensures the reduced possibility of cancer in later years of life.
Prevents Kidney Disease
Packed with diuretic traits, cardamom aids in proper elimination of excess salts, liquids, waste materials in the system, thus averting surplus levels of toxins building up in the kidneys. It cleanses the tubular pathways of the urinary tract and bladder, to prevent instances of kidney infection and other renal ailments.