Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
There’s a growing trend—adding the space cardamom to coffee. Cardamom has a sweet and spicy flavor that resembles cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg and is popular in both savory and sweet dishes. But lately, people have been adding a pinch to coffee. The reason? They believe cardamom is healthy. Is this spice in coffee good for you? Let’s look at whether that’s the case.
Where Does Cardamom Come From?
Cardamom has a rich history and is even mentioned in the Bible. The spice has been around for almost 4,000 years and has been used medicinally to treat various ailments, including digestive issues. Cardamom is native to southern India and some parts of Indonesia; however, countries around the world cultivate it today.
Cardamom is a member of the ginger family and comes from a flowering plant with pods that contain the cardamom seeds. Cardamom powder is made using the dried, ground pods of the cardamom plant. Producers of this spice remove the seeds from inside the pod and grind them into a fine powder and package it as a spice. The powder is also used to flavor foods and beverages.
Is Cardamom in Coffee Good for You?
Cardamom has several characteristics that make it a healthy addition to a cup of coffee. For one, the spice is an antioxidant, a natural compound that fights free radicals that damage cells.
When you add a pinch of cardamom to coffee, you ramp up the antioxidant benefits of your morning cup of coffee. Coffee itself contains antioxidants. In fact, scientists say coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet since people drink so much of it.
The antioxidant activity of cardamom also gives it the ability to fight inflammation. One randomized controlled study found that diabetics who consumed a cardamom supplement for eight weeks experienced a reduction in markers of oxidative stress and inflammation.
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The study shows this spice may have the power to fight oxidative stress and inflammation, a feature of many chronic health problems, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Cardamom also contains modest quantities of minerals, including iron, magnesium, and manganese (and small amounts of zinc, potassium, and calcium). The specific concentrations of each mineral depend on how much cardamom you use. This spice also contains modest quantities of some B-vitamins and vitamin C.
How to Use Cardamom in Coffee
Ready to add some cardamom to your coffee? Here are ways to enjoy its flavor and health benefits.
If you have whole cardamom pods, crush them with a mortar and pestle. This can intensify the flavor of the spice. Then sprinkle it into your coffee grounds before brewing so that the flavor infuses into the drink.
Do not grind whole pods with your coffee beans; this could damage or dull their blade. However, you can crush them and add them directly to your cup after brewing your coffee.
When you add ground cardamom to a brewed cup of coffee, it gives your coffee a sweet and slightly spicy flavor. You can also blend ready-brewed coffee, milk (cow's milk or plant-based alternatives), ice cubes and honey together in a blender with ground cardamom and freeze to make frozen yogurt. That should go well with your coffee!
Coffee and Cardamom: The Power of Synergy
Since coffee contains antioxidants and cardamom does too, it’s possible that the combo of coffee and cardamom offers synergy, meaning one enhances the benefits of the other. At the very least, cardamom will add a unique taste to your coffee. Add a little milk or plant-based milk substitute, and you have a healthy morning beverage.
The Bottom Line
The antioxidants in cardamom may give your morning coffee and extra kick of flavor and health benefits. So, enjoy!
- Kazemi S, Yaghooblou F, Siassi F, Rahimi Foroushani A, Ghavipour M, Koohdani F, Sotoudeh G. Cardamom supplementation improves inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarkers in hyperlipidemic, overweight, and obese pre-diabetic women: a randomized double-blind clinical trial. J Sci Food Agric. 2017 Dec;97(15):5296-5301. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.8414. Epub 2017 Jul 17. PMID: 28480505.
- "Cardamom Nutrition facts, Medicinal properties and Health benefits." https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/cardamom.html.
- "Coffee is number one source of antioxidants - Coffee Science." https://coffeescience.de/coffee-is-number-one-source-of-antioxidants/.
- "Coffee and Antioxidants: Everything You Need to Know." 20 Feb. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coffee-worlds-biggest-source-of-antioxidants.