Cloves are a beloved natural food, highly-prized in many cultures throughout the planet due to their excellent culinary and medicinal properties. However, they have always been an underrated spice, as they are known over thousands of years but haven’t got the same recognition as the other popular superfoods that you know today. Numerous studies have proven how even a droplet of clove oil has more antioxidant power than blueberries or goji berries, which are among the top ten most nutritious foods in existence. So you may ask, what are the health benefits of cloves that should be recognized by every wellness enthusiast all over the world? Read on and get ready to be amazed.
Aromatic cloves boast an impressively long list of health benefits that can change your life for the better!
With its heavenly aroma that reminds you of holidays at home, clove spice became a staple in kitchens, restaurants, and even aromatherapy to soothe stress and anxiety. Today, pharmaceutical companies are taking advantage of the spice’s active compounds to create potent remedies for various diseases, all thanks to their impressively long list of healing properties, which include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anesthetic, antiseptic, carminative, antiviral, antifungal, antithrombotic, and rubefacient qualities. Learn more about the nutritional value of cloves by scrolling below.
What are Cloves?
Cloves, scientific name Syzygium aromaticum, are dried flower buds of an evergreen plant belonging to the Myrtaceae family, along with eucalyptus, bay rum, and guava trees, most of which thrive in tropical and subtropical areas. Aside from clove buds, its other parts like stems and leaves are also renowned for their therapeutic attributes.
The spice is believed to originate from Asia, particularly the Moluccas, which was formerly called the Spice Islands of Indonesia, where people have been consuming them since 200 B.C. Between the 13th and 14th centuries, cloves were brought to Africa, China, India, Persia, and Europe but did not gain much attention until the Middle Ages, when civilizations used their sharp flavor to mask the hideous tastes of poorly-preserved foods. In the present, Indonesia still leads the top-producing clove country on the globe, followed by Madagascar, India, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka.
Cloves, whether whole, ground, or in oil form, are utilized worldwide due to their seemingly immeasurable disease-preventing compounds.
Young flower buds feature a pale color, which gradually turns into green and fully develops into bright red, indicating they are ready to be harvested. They are generally collected by hands, dried under the sun, sorted out, and finally, dispatched to the supermarkets, where you’ll find them as reddish-brown spikes with bulbous tops. Both ground cloves and clove oil are also sold worldwide.
Cloves contain multiple bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, triterpenoids, tannins, and numerous essential oils like eugenol, which is responsible for their pleasantly sweet aromatic fragrance. Other essential nutrients present in clove buds include carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc, and vitamins, such as vitamins A, E, C, K, and several B vitamins. Know how these immune-boosting and disease-preventing substances improve your overall health.
Nutritional Profile of Cloves
What are the Health Benefits of Cloves?
A scientific journal reports that cloves have higher antioxidant power than most natural foods out there, as they possess important bioactive compounds, such as flavonoids, benzene, eugenol, ethanol, hexane, methylene chloride, and thymol, that scavenge unstable molecules called free radicals, thereby lessening oxidative stress. Cloves also contain excellent amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin A, both of which display antioxidant properties that protect your body from certain types of cancers.
The primary anti-inflammatory agent among the cloves’ volatile compounds is eugenol, which lowers and inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body, alleviating inflammation, as well as pain, in the gums, joints, muscles, and their surrounding soft tissues. Flavonoids like rhamnetin and kaempferol present in cloves have also shown both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Antimicrobial and Antiseptic Properties
Cloves have long been employed as a remedy for various pathogenic infections due to their excellent antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. Eugenol, beta-caryophyllene, and many other active ingredients in clove extracts are found to kill and ward off certain fungal and bacterial strains, including E. coli, S. aureus, and B. cereus, curing gum pain, skin issues, and other pathogenic-induced conditions.
Major Health Benefits of Cloves
1. Cloves promote optimal oral health
With their strong antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties, clove buds are a popular natural medicine for toothache and pain relief to go with temporary fillings, root canal therapy, and general gum soreness. Cloves are also made into various oral products to combat pathogen infections that cause bad breath, periodontitis, and gingivitis.
2. Clove extracts keep your bones strong
Dried clove extracts taken using hydroalcoholic preparations have been shown to contain high levels of polyphenol eugenol and its by-products that are crucial for preserving the density, mineral content, tensile strength, and overall metabolism of the bones, effectively treating and preventing symptoms of hormone-associated osteoporosis.
3. It ensures maximum digestive health
One traditional medicinal application of cloves is alleviating stomach issues like flatulence, indigestion, constipation, vomiting, and certain gastrointestinal irritation. The spice owes these gut benefits to its antimicrobial, anesthetic, and purgative compounds, which are also found to lower the risk of stomach ulcers by increasing the stomach lining protection.
4. Its healing properties benefit the liver
Cloves’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances, such as eugenol, beta-sitosterol, and vitamin C, have manifested hepatoprotective activities like eliminating free radicals, inhibiting oxidative stress and inflammation, and preventing hepatic cell propagation that may result in liver cirrhosis.
5. Consuming cloves aids diabetes management
Consuming cloves have been reported to lower blood glucose levels and impede blood sugar spikes after meals in individuals with diabetes. These antidiabetic qualities of cloves are due to nigericin compounds that improve the secretion of insulin and maintain their optimal health.
6. Cloves hinder development of cancer
A medical study concluded that clove extracts display powerful antitumor activities like hindering tumor development and inducing carcinogenic cell death, potentially treating and preventing different forms of cancers. The buds’ chemopreventive properties may be attributed to their eugenol compounds, as well as vitamins A and C, all of which are known to actively eliminate free radicals, lessen inflammation, and boost the immune system, lowering the risk of breast, cervical, lung, esophageal, and oral cavity cancers.
7. Their aroma eases respiratory issues
The aromatic clove oil has been known as an effective remedy for asthma, as its active compounds ward off bacteria in the lungs and ease both inflammation and irritation in the respiratory tract. It can also be massaged unto the sinuses, nose bridge, and chest to provide relief to someone who’s having breathing difficulties.
8. Clove compounds help in weight loss
Numerous studies present that cloves own compounds that naturally inhibit the synthesis of fatty acids, significantly reducing body mass. Alcohol extracts of the flower buds are also found to decrease lipid buildup in the liver and abdominal adipose tissue volume, thereby lowering the body weight.
9. Clove oil soothes headaches
The abundant antioxidants in cloves have been shown to demonstrate anti-stress properties, quickly reducing headaches and body pains. Inhaling their pleasant smell or massaging their oil over your temples and forehead effectively soothes chronic stress and anxiety.
10. It lessens acne breakouts
Finally, the robust antifungal and antibacterial constituents in cloves work well in managing acne and other skin conditions, as they kill foreign infections and lessen inflammation. Their excellent amounts of antioxidant carotenoids and vitamin A are also helpful in keeping the skin and mucosa nourished and well protected.
How to Prepare
Dried cloves are generally grounded at the start of the dish preparation and added towards the end to avoid the evaporation of essential oils. You can utilize your coffee grinder to powderise the cloves and then carefully decide on how much to add to not overpower the taste of other ingredients.
Here are some quick serving ideas you can follow to relish your nutritious cloves:
- Ground cloves are popularly used along with other aromatic spices like ginger, turmeric, and pepper to marinate fish, chicken, and meat in both regular and special cuisines in Chinese and Asian cultures.
- Whole clove buds can be added to soups, broths, barbecue sauces, poaching liquids, and pickling preparations to achieve a unique flavor with hints of peppery zest.
- Impart a warm, spicy note to your apple cider, fruit compote, or stuffing recipe by adding some ground cloves.
How to Select and Store
Selection: Dried clove buds are readily available all year round in most of the supermarkets. Buy whole cloves as much as possible to ensure maximum freshness when it’s time for you to use them. Ideally, cloves should release some of their fragrant oil when squeezed gently. Select those buds that have their stem and sepals intact.
Storage: Store whole cloves in tightly-sealed containers, which are placed in a dark, cool, and dry room to last for several months. Meanwhile, ground or powdered cloves should be kept in airtight containers and put inside the refrigerator to last for six months to a year.
Possible Risks and Complications
Although cloves offer numerous perks, excessive ingestion of the spice may cause several adverse effects, including an abnormal lowering of blood glucose levels, profuse bleeding, and even allergies in some sensitive people. Overconsumption of dishes incorporated with a lot of cloves may induce gastrointestinal irritation, as well as nervous system problems.
The inclusion of cloves in your daily meals should be simple and fun, as the spice goes along with various dishes and is readily accessible in your nearest grocery store. Normal and moderate consumption of cloves, which possess a wide array of medicinal properties, can remarkably enhance your overall well-being. With its high levels of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, carminative, and rubefacient qualities, clove spice is one natural food you should not miss out on.
What are your top three most favorite clove recipes, and why? Share your health journey with us in the comment box below!