Want to maintain a lean body weight and reduce fat? The humble cardamom may be the perfect option, according to a new study that revealed a range of health and dietary benefits of consuming cardamom, including increased appetite, fat loss and inflammation reduction.
Cardamom is a popular spice in many parts of the world and has a warm herbal flavour and an aroma that blends eucalyptus, mint and pepper.
Researchers at the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, called the spice a "superfood".
"What we found is that this small spice can burn calories and maintain body weight while increasing appetite and food consumption," said principal investigator Luis Cisneros-Zevallos from the varsity.
The study, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, was conducted using live animal specimens and applied various doses of cardamom seeds in a regular diet. Researchers found that cardamom increases appetite but also increases energy expenditure and fat mass reduction, Cisneros-Zevallos said.
It also provided estimated dosages for humans -- at least 77 milligrams of cardamom bioactives for an adult around 132 pounds. It stated this beneficial dose may be obtained from consuming at least eight to 10 cardamom pods every day.
The study confirmed cardamom modulates neural circuits that regulate adipose tissue lipolysis and mitochondrial oxidative metabolism in liver and skeletal muscle.
Cisneros-Zevallos said other related studies have shown cardamom has anti-inflammatory properties. His research indicates that cardamom may reduce low-grade inflammation that can lead to chronic inflammation and the development of a range of diseases.
"Our team has discovered an amazing opportunity to utilise cardamom as a promoter of overall health," he said.
"Cardamom seeds, with this new functionality, can be used in different industries, including the sports industry, functional foods and dietary supplements to favour the production of healthier foods."
Cisneros-Zevallos said the research showed cardamom consumption helped appetite and weight loss. He believes this new functionality discovered in cardamom can be used in the growing market of sports nutrition or as an aid to increase appetite in convalescent people.
"There is a wide range of potential health products for cardamom and its naturally occurring compounds," he said.