They might look small and unappealing, but cloves are super foods when it comes to nutrition and health benefits. They are the unopened flower buds of the evergreen clove tree that is native to Indonesia. Although cloves come under the spice category, they hold high importance in Ayurvedic medicine as an antiseptic, analgesic and anti-microbial agent. The oils, leaves, dried flower buds, and stems of this fantastic herb are used in making medicine. Cloves impart a wonderful taste and aroma to the dishes to which they are added. Since they have an intense flavor, care should be taken not to add too much cloves in cooking as it can overpower the taste and flavor of other ingredients in the dish.
Nutritional value of cloves
Cloves are a storehouse of antioxidants and are also good sources of vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and other important nutrients. This spice contains essential oils like eugenol, which is a chemical compound belonging to the phenyl-propanoids class of compounds. It is this chemical
that gives the cloves its pleasant and wonderful aroma. Eugenol has antiseptic and anesthetic properties and hence it is used effectively in dental treatment procedures and dental care. Cloves are also rich in tannins, flavonoids and saponins. It contains high amounts of minerals like potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron and selenium. It is also a good source of many vitamins like vitamin A, thiamin (vitamin B-1), vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin-C, vitamin-K, and riboflavin.
Health benefits of cloves
Cloves are dense in nutrients and antioxidants that work towards promoting overall health and wellness. Given below are some of the reasons why you should consider including cloves to your diet:
Cloves for clear and beautiful skin
Clove oil has been used widely by skin specialists to treat many skin conditions and to enhance the health and beauty of the skin. It has been found to be very effective in treating acne and pimples. The antibacterial properties of cloves help in killing the acne causing bacteria, thereby preventing acne breakout. The essential oil found in this spice cleanses your skin and also reduces inflammation caused by acne and pimples. Clove oil should be diluted with carrier oil before applying to the skin as it is quite strong and can irritate the skin.
Applying clove oil on the skin can help in removing scars and blemishes. It also exfoliates the skin and removes the dirt and dead cells from the surface of the skin, giving it a smooth and clean appearance. The antioxidants in cloves fight against free radicals and help to prevent early aging signs such as wrinkles, dark spots and fine lines. Cloves are rich in vitamin C that promotes collagen production, which increases elasticity of the skin, making it smooth and supple.
Hair benefits of cloves
Cloves are also found to be highly beneficial for the hair. It helps in strengthening your hair and in preventing hair loss. The application of a mixture of clove oil and olive oil on the scalp and strands of hair acts as a conditioner and makes your hair look smooth and shiny.
Cloves for oral hygiene
Using cloves is an excellent way to keep your mouth clean, fresh and healthy. It helps in eliminating bad breath by cleaning your entire mouth including the palate, tongue and throat. Being antibacterial in nature, it destroys the bacteria that may cause foul breath and infections. The intense aroma of the cloves prevents bad breath and keeps your mouth smelling fresh. Applying clove oil or chewing on a clove is one of the best remedies to get relief from toothache. It also prevents infection by killing the bacteria and the anti-inflammatory effects of this spice reduce swelling in the gums and around the teeth.
Cloves provide temporary relief from toothache
Dab a small amount of clove oil on a cotton ball and place the cotton on your gums or affected tooth. This can help in alleviating the toothache temporarily. Since cloves possess antiseptic property, it can help in preventing infections too.
Cloves have anti-inflammatory properties
Eugenol is the main component of clove’s essential volatile oils, which functions as an anti-inflammatory agent. Studies conducted on animals indicates that by adding clove extract to diets which are already rich in anti-inflammatory components such as cod liver oil helps in further reducing the symptoms of inflammation by another 15 to 30 percent. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cloves can also be attributed to the presence of different kinds of flavonoids such as rhamnetin and kaempferol in this spice.
Cloves for upper respiratory ailments
Cloves function as an expectorant and help in loosening the mucous or phlegm. Since they have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties they help in relieving sore throat and other infections. According to Ayurvedic medicine, drinking tea containing cloves is helpful in lessening or preventing the common colds and flu.
Cloves are beneficial for treating arthritis
The essential oils in cloves work as a rubefacient, which irritates the skin, causing the blood vessels to expand, thereby increasing the flow of blood to the affected area. This property makes cloves a very popular remedy for providing relief from sore muscles and the symptoms of arthritis. Clove oil can be either used in hot baths or as a poultice.
Cloves improve digestion
Clove is found to have carminative properties, which helps in preventing the formation of gas in the intestinal tract. It has medicinal qualities and is used to cure many digestive problems like flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, vomiting, gastric irritability and loose motion. Cloves help in stimulating blood circulation and hence contribute to improved digestion and metabolism. In addition to this, the essential oils in clove are found to be very effective in reducing inflammation and preventing stomach ulcers. The anti-bacterial effect of this spice is helpful in destroying the harmful bacteria in the stomach thus preventing the occurrence of stomach infections. Chewing on a clove after a meal helps in stimulating the salivary glands to produce more saliva which aids in digestion.
Eating cloves help in lowering cholesterol
If you are looking for easy and natural ways to reduce cholesterol, try adding cloves to your daily diet. A study published by the American Heart Association states that this spice plays an important role in lowering cholesterol. According to the study the active ingredients in cloves helps in stimulating some enzymes that in turn help in lowering the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides. Eating three cloves a day may help in reducing the cholesterol levels by about 10 to 15 percent.
Cloves can help in relieving acidity
Cloves can be of great help for people suffering from acidity. This spice not only improves digestion but also reduces the symptoms of acidity by lining the throat and stomach with mucous. Cloves have carminative effect which prevents the buildup of gas in the intestine. Chewing or sucking on a raw clove is the best way to get fast relief from acidity.
Cloves for diabetes
Research suggests that cloves show glucose-lowering effects and hence it has been recommended for people suffering from diabetes. According to studies, this spice helps in improving insulin resistance and in controlling blood sugar levels. The study also suggests that the regular consumption of cloves may help in preventing diabetes.
Cloves are a stress buster
The wonderful aroma of cloves can help you relax and soothe your mind. The essential oil Eugenol found abundantly in this spice is known to have muscle relaxant properties. Cloves have stimulating effect on your mind and are helpful in eliminating mental fatigue and exhaustion. Regular consumption of this spice can refresh your mind and improve the functioning of your brain. Clove oil is known to induce sleep and hence is beneficial for people suffering from lack of sleep or insomnia. It is also found to be effective in treating disorders of the nervous system such as depression, anxiety and memory loss.
Cloves have aphrodisiac properties
Cloves are one of the most popularly known aphrodisiacs. The essential oils in this herb are found to be helpful in increasing libido and sexual desire.
Cloves for nausea and vomiting
Cloves are considered to be an effective remedy for nausea and vomiting. They are helpful in providing relief from nausea and morning sickness that is usually found in pregnant women. Inhaling the scent of clove oil or chewing on cloves will help in alleviating nausea. For getting relief from vomiting, you can either drink warm water to which a few drops of clove oil has been added or you can swallow a mixture of powdered cloves and honey.
Cloves for headache
A mixture of clove oil and salt when applied on the forehead is believed to offer a cooling effect, which helps in getting relief from headaches. The anti-inflammatory nature of this spice will help to reduce the inflammation and the analgesic property offers relief from pain.
Cloves improve blood circulation
Clove oil helps increasing blood circulation, which helps in transporting oxygen efficiently to the various parts of the body. This effect can be attributed to the active ingredient Eugenol found in clove essential oil.
Cloves are actually one of the spices that have been highly valued. It is popular and widely used all over the world for their culinary and medicinal properties. The whole range of health benefits that this tiny spice offers makes it a miracle food. In addition to its medicinal and culinary uses, cloves are also useful as an insect repellant, in aromatherapy, and in making cosmetics, soaps, perfumes.Image Credits: Flickr- Elenadan, Wikimedia - AmonHeijne, Wikimedia - Jorge Barrios