(Natural News) For most Americans, drinking coffee is part of a daily routine – in part, because it keeps them awake for the rest of the day. However, researchers suggest adding cardamom to your cup of joe to transform it into a beverage that’s full of antioxidants. The study, published in CyTA – Journal of Food, indicated that cardamom not only affects the flavor and aroma of coffee, but the resulting blend is one that’s high in phenolic compounds and has a different biological activity than regular coffee.
In the U.S., current coffee consumption rates are at their highest in six years, with over 60 percent reporting that they had a cup of coffee the day before. It also indicates a strong market for coffee in the country despite the decline in the demand for soda and juice.
This increase in consumption also coincides with the growing trend of using natural ingredients in food and beverage. To note, most studies on coffee are focused on its active ingredient, caffeine, rather than the drink itself. In this study, researchers looked at the effects of spices and herbs, especially their use as additives for beverages such as coffee. “Spices and herbs are rich sources of powerful antioxidants and have been used as whole or ground spice/herb, extracts, encapsulated, or emulsions,” the researchers wrote in their article.
Researchers looked at cardamom for this study, citing its wide use in both food and medicine. In particular, traditional forms of medicine have regarded the spice as a treatment for colic, congestion, diarrhea, and dyspepsia – including more severe conditions such as epilepsy and cardiovascular diseases. Earlier studies have also indicated the presence of phenolic compounds such as vanillic acid, caffeic acid, ?-hydroxybenzoic acid, gentisic acid, protocatechuic acid, and ?-coumaric acid – all of which have potent antioxidant properties.
The team evaluated how the compounds in cardamom react when mixed with coffee, comparing them with chemical reactions in vivo and in vitro. For the study, the antiradical potential, ferric-reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), chelating power (CHEL), OH? scavenging capacity (OH), superoxide dismutase-like activity, lipoxygenase (LOXi), and xanthine oxidase (XOi) inhibitory potential were evaluated for bioaccessibility. Both water-soluble antioxidants and phenolics were studied in combination and separately.
The team brewed coffee and different doses of cardamom, evaluating each for its physicochemical properties and its taste profile. Based on the results, they found that the antioxidant activities in the combined resultant mixture were the product of the phenolic compounds from both ingredients. In particular, FRAP, CHEL, and XOi interactions during simulated digestion were similar to that of chemical standards. However, LOX inhibitors acted differently during digestion from the standard.
“Our findings have shown that coffee and cardamom provide an excellent source of potentially bioaccessible compounds (especially those from hydroxycinnamic acids family) with multidirectional antioxidant activity,” the team concluded.
Other health benefits of cardamom
Putting cardamom in coffee isn’t just a novel way to start your day: The spice is linked to various health benefits that have made it an essential ingredient in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.
- Protects the heart. Researchers from King Saud University have discovered that cardamom was able to control hypertension and counteract lipid surge in the body. The antioxidants present in the spice also helped regulate cholesterol levels. (Related: Cardamom fights cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.)
- Has anti-depressant properties. It’s one of the oils used in aromatherapy for a reason: It may relieve signs of depression and treat conditions such as stomach disorders and pulmonary diseases.
- Relieves nausea, sore throats, and vomiting. The spice is known to calm sensations of nausea and vomiting, and it can relieve symptoms of a sore throat.
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