Cloves are the dried aromatic flower buds of the evergreen trees belonging to the plant family Myrtaceae and the order Myrtales. Scientifically, they are categorized under the botanical name Syzygium aromaticum and renowned for their diverse medicinal benefits and high nutritional content. Also, they have a strong and hot flavor, which adds a delightful sweet and savory taste to soups, stews and even spiced teas. This spice is native to the Moluccas region of Indonesia, which was formerly renowned as the ‘Spice Island of Indonesia’. For over 2000 years, clove was consumed in different parts of Asia and was later transported to parts of Europe and Africa. Today, the prime cultivators of this variety of aromatic spice are India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, West Indies, Pemba and Brazil. Though the exterior of the spice is hard and tough, its fleshy interiors feature an oily compound that contributes a lot to its flavor and nutritional profile. To know all about the diverse health benefits of cloves, read the pointers given in this article.
Health Benefits Of Eating Cloves
- One of the major components of the volatile oils present in cloves is eugenol, which acts as an anti-inflammatory substance. Eugenol also acts as a potent platelet inhibitor and thus, helps in the prevention of blood clots.
- The compound eugenol is also known to be effective against a number of fungal diseases, especially the T. mentagrophytes and M. canis dermatophytes. Studies have also shown the effective anti-fungal action of cloves against Candida albicans.
- Apart from the effects mentioned above, eugenol is known for its analgesic effect and is often used by dentists as a local anesthetic. In fact, it is often said that placing a single clove over a tooth can help relieve toothache.
- To add to the anti-inflammatory properties of cloves, certain flavonoids like kaempferol and rhamnetin present in the spice work together in achieving this effect. These substances are also known for their antioxidant properties.
- An excellent source of the mineral manganese, cloves help in preventing a number of ailments and diseases.
- Recent studies have also indicated that intake of cloves is very beneficial for preventing as well as reducing the risk of lung and skin cancer.
- Cloves are also used as a traditional form of medicine for treating conditions like indigestion, cold, flu and even aches.
- When cloves are taken in large amounts, in their undiluted oil form or in cigarettes, certain side effects may occur. These include seizure, sore throat, vomiting of blood, difficulty in breathing, kidney failure and even blood disorders.
- When applied to the inner part of the mouth or the skin, cloves can cause burning or painful sensations, apart from sore lips and damage of the dental pulp.
- Caution should be taken by patients suffering from bleeding disorders, as studies have indicated that use of clove or clove oil can cause increased bleeding risk.
- If not stored in a proper manner, contamination of cloves may occur, which can cause health problems in humans.
- The exact amount and the proper usage of cloves should be made prior to cooking, as the spice has a very strong, warm and intense flavor. Care should be taken so that the flavors of the other ingredients are not compromised.
- The best and also the easiest way to powder whole cloves is by making use of a coffee grinder.