Everything You Need to Know About Cardamom

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is a perennial herb native to parts of Asia, including Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It has white flowers and is part of the Zingiberaceae family of plants, which also includes ginger.

Its seeds are dried and often used as a spice in many Asian recipes, including coffee, cakes, and curries. Parts of the cardamom plant, including the seeds, leaves, bark, roots, and flowers, have been used for thousands of years for their potential health benefits.

In preliminary research studies, cardamom has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, cholesterol-lowering, and blood sugar–lowering effects. Yet, clinical trials proving these and other health benefits are few and far between.

This article will examine the evidence behind cardamom's purported health benefits. It will also cover side effects, precautions, dosage, drug interactions, and storage information for cardamom.

Wooden bowl of cardamom capsules

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Dietary supplements are not regulated the way drugs are in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab.com, or NSF International.  

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, they are not necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and ask about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredient(s): Phenols, starch, tannins, terpenoids, flavonoids, proteins, sterols, anthocyanins, alkaloids
  • Alternate name(s): Elettaria cardamomum, green cardamom, true cardamom
  • Suggested dose: No dosage guidelines available
  • Safety considerations: Cardamom is considered safe in amounts used in foods. Side effects may be possible when using larger doses for medicinal purposes.

Potential Benefits of Cardamom

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease. 

In traditional medicine, cardamom has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis.

Cardamom has also been touted for its pharmacological effects. Some studies have found cardamom to be:

  • Antioxidant
  • Antimutagenic
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antidiabetic
  • Heart protective
  • Liver protective
  • Chemoprotective (an agent that may reduce the side effects of chemotherapy)

Despite cardamom's popularity, scientific evidence of its medicinal uses is weak overall, with most studies having been performed on animals or in lab settings rather than in humans. Below is a look at some of the research.

Metabolic Syndrome

Because metabolic syndrome (a group of conditions that occur together and increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes) can cause serious illness, researchers have looked into whether cardamom can help prevent these diseases.

A 2021 narrative review suggested that cardamom may improve the conditions leading to metabolic syndrome. Through various mechanisms, cardamom has shown an ability to:

  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Reduce blood sugar levels
  • Modulate some genes that may lead to obesity.

However, a 2022 systematic review on the effect of cardamom supplementation on metabolic factors demonstrated conflicting results.

Data from six studies in the review that enrolled over 400 people found that daily supplementation of 3 grams of cardamom did not improve certain parameters of metabolic syndrome, like waist circumference, fasting blood sugar, and insulin. However, cardamom was associated with significant improvements in HbA1C (a measure of blood sugar over time) and insulin resistance.


Cardamom extracts have been shown to contain anti-inflammatory properties in preliminary research. This may be due to multiple bioactive compounds present in cardamom.

In one study, people with prediabetes were divided into groups to receive either a supplement containing 3 grams of cardamom or a placebo (a pill with no benefit) every day for eight weeks.

Compared to the placebo group, those who took the cardamom supplement had significant reductions in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a marker of inflammation.

In another study, researchers measured inflammatory markers before and after cardamom supplementation in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a group of diseases affecting the liver in people who drink little to no alcohol.

Similar to the previous study, participants were randomly chosen to take either a placebo or 3 grams of cardamom in supplement form per day. At the end of the three-month study, cardamom supplementation was associated with a significant decrease in hs-CRP and other inflammatory markers like interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha).

Antibacterial Properties

Cardamom is thought to contain antibacterial properties, which could be useful against certain infections.

A lab study found cardamom essential oil to be effective against common bacterial strains like Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus mutans, and Candida albicans.

Another study looked into how cardamom may affect periodontal (gum) bacteria. Cardamom extract showed antibacterial effects against Porphyromonas gingivalis and other strains of bacteria commonly found in periodontal infections.

More vigorous research is needed before cardamom can be recommended for antibacterial use.


Cardamom may help reduce high blood pressure (hypertension).

A small human trial included people newly diagnosed with grade 1 hypertension. Participants took capsules that contained 3 grams of cardamom every day for three months. At the end of the study, significant decreases were shown in both systolic (the top number) and diastolic (the bottom number) blood pressure readings (with systolic measuring pressure in your arteries when your heart beats and diastolic measuring pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats).

However, one systematic review published in 2023 of cardamom's effects on disorders related to metabolic syndrome found that the spice significantly decreased diastolic blood pressure but not systolic blood pressure.

More research is needed to confirm the effects of cardamom on hypertension.

Side Effects of Cardamom

Cardamom is generally considered safe, especially when consumed in amounts typically used in food.

In reviewing studies, very few participants report side effects or other safety concerns associated with using cardamom. In one study of 80 people with prediabetes, only four reports of side effects were made within the first week. Side effects in the study included diarrhea, mild inflammation, and glossitis (inflammation of the tongue).

You may be more likely to experience side effects if you use cardamom in high doses. For this reason, only use cardamom as directed.


Although cardamom is considered safe as a spice, it may not be right for everyone when used as a supplement.

There isn't enough reliable information to know for certain that cardamom supplements are safe for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It's best to be safe and avoid using cardamom supplements while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Cardamom supplements may also not be suitable for children. Consult with a healthcare provider before giving cardamom supplements to a child.

Always talk with a healthcare provider before starting a new supplement, especially if you have a medical condition or take any medications.

Dosage: How Much Cardamom Should I Consume?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs. 

Due to an overall lack of scientific evidence, there are no standardized dosage recommendations for cardamom.

Various clinical trials on cardamom for metabolic syndrome have used a dose of 3 grams daily for eight to 12 weeks with positive results.

A dose of 3 grams per day also yielded positive results in a study on cardamom's effects on inflammation in people with prediabetes.

Despite these seemingly successful results, much more research is needed before dosage guidelines can be drawn for cardamom. Note that the FDA has not approved using cardamom supplements to prevent or treat any health conditions.

How to Use Cardamom

Cardamom is a popular spice in many Asian dishes. These may include coffee, cakes, curries, and more. It can be used for both savory and sweet recipes.

You can use ground cardamom or cardamom pods when cooking or baking with the spice. Cardamom pods are said to produce more flavor than powder and can be ground up with a mortar and pestle.

Regardless of the form you choose, cardamom has a strong flavor and aroma. Be sure to follow recipes using cardamom closely so you don't use too much and overpower a dish.


Herbs and supplements may interact with medications, foods, and even other supplements.

There are no documented interactions with cardamom. However, interactions may still be possible.

Always talk with a healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take, especially if you use any prescription medications.

When choosing an herbal supplement, it is essential to carefully read the ingredients list and nutrition facts panel on the label to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review supplement labels with a healthcare provider to discuss any potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications. 

How to Store Cardamom

For optimal freshness, store cardamom in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight.

Cardamom does not require refrigeration. But you should store it in an air-tight container. Keep cardamom out of the sight and reach of pets and small children.

The shelf life of ground cardamom usually is several months, while whole cardamom seeds or pods can last two to three years or more. Follow storage and discard directions as listed on the product label.

Sources & What to Look For

You can use cardamom either as a spice in cooking or baking, or in supplement form.

Cardamom is thought to be safe when consumed in amounts commonly found in food. Little is known about the safety of using cardamom in larger doses than this.

Both ground cardamom and cardamom pods can be purchased online or in grocery stores.

Cardamom Supplements

Cardamom supplements can be purchased online and are available in certain stores, like specialty health stores.

Cardamom supplements are mostly found in capsule form but may also come as a liquid extract. Many cardamom supplements are naturally vegan and gluten-free, and some options are organic.

Remember that dietary supplements are largely unregulated in the United States (U.S.). Although not required, some supplement brands choose to undergo quality reviews by agencies like USP, ConsumerLab.com, and NSF. These agencies test supplements to ensure that ingredient lists are accurate and that products are containment-free.

It's beneficial to buy and use supplements that have undergone third-party reviews.

Similar Spices

Although cardamom has a unique flavor, other spices may work similarly in recipes.

Spices that are often substituted for cardamom in cooking or baking include:

  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Allspice
  • Ginger
  • Cloves

Some of these spices may offer additional health benefits.

Like cardamom, cinnamon has been used for thousands of years as a spice and for its potential health benefits. For example, cinnamon may improve blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.

Nutmeg may also be beneficial, as it has been found to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Besides curbing nausea, ginger has been linked to improved lipid profiles, blood sugar control, inflammation, and insulin sensitivity.


Cardamom is an herb commonly used as a spice or sometimes as a dietary supplement.

There is some evidence suggesting that cardamom may be useful for certain health conditions. However, quality research on cardamom is scarce, and more studies are needed.

When used as a spice or flavoring in food, cardamom is considered safe, but there may be safety concerns when using it as a supplement.

Talk with a healthcare provider if you're thinking of taking cardamom supplements.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does cardamom taste like?

    Cardamom seeds are said to taste both sweet and aromatic. This allows cardamom to be used in desserts as well as coffees and savory dishes.

    Cardamom's flavor is sometimes described as earthy, herbal, citrusy, and minty.

  • What spices can be used as an alternative to cardamom?

    If you don't have cardamom, other spices can be used in its place.

    Alternative spices include ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Some of these spices may also be more affordable than cardamom.

  • What are the different types of cardamom?

    Elettaria cardamomum is also known as green cardamom (and true cardamom) due to its green color. Another species of cardamom is Amomum subulatum, also known as black cardamom.

    Both green and black cardamom are used for food flavoring and medicinal purposes.

17 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Brittany Lubeck, RD
Brittany Lubeck, RD, is a nutrition writer and registered dietitian with a master's degree in clinical nutrition.