By Rachael Link MS RD
"Cloves are the flower buds of the clove tree, an evergreen also known as Syzygium aromaticum. Found in both whole and ground forms, this versatile spice can be used to season pot roasts, add flavour to hot beverages and bring spicy warmth to cookies and cakes. You may know cloves as one of the main ingredients in gingerbread baked goods or a staple spice in Indian cuisine. In addition to their sweet, aromatic flavour, cloves are known for their potent medicinal properties.
1. Contain Important Nutrients
Cloves are low in calories and provide some fibre, vitamins K and C, minerals (manganese), so by using whole or ground cloves to add flavour to your food you can provide some important nutrients. Ground cloves contain small amounts of calcium, magnesium and vitamin E.
As well as containing several important vitamins and minerals, cloves are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that reduce oxidative stress, which can contribute to the development of chronic disease. Including cloves in your diet along with other antioxidant-rich foods can help improve your overall health.
3. May Protect Against Cancer
Some test-tube studies show that the compounds found in cloves cancer cell death. More research is needed to confirm these effects in humans. Test-tube studies show that the compounds in cloves may reduce cancer cell growth and promote cancer cell death. More research is needed to confirm these effects in humans.
Studies show that the beneficial compounds in cloves could help promote liver health. The compound eugenol may be especially beneficial for the liver. Cloves are also high in antioxidants, which may help prevent liver disease due to their ability to help decrease oxidative stress.
Test-tube and animal studies have shown that the compounds in cloves may help promote insulin production and lower blood sugar.
Low bone mass is a condition that affects an estimated 43 million older adults in the US alone. It can lead to the development of osteoporosis, which causes weakened, porous bones and an increased risk of breaks and fractures. Some of the compounds in cloves have been shown to help preserve bone mass in animal studies, however, more research is needed to determine how it may affect bone formation in humans.
8. May Reduce Stomach Ulcers
The Bottom Line:
Cloves are the dry, unopened flower bud of the tropical myrtle tree family used to flavour a wide variety of sweet and savoury dishes. Cloves can be used whole or ground to impart a strong sweet but spicy and peppery flavour so should be used in moderation to avoid over seasoning. Insert whole cloves into baked hams or oranges, apples or onions to add flavour or add ground cloves to curries.
It's best to grind whole cloves into powder, using a mortar and pestle, just prior to using them to ensure flavour and freshness are at their peak. To stud an ingredient with cloves, stick whole cloves into it so that the bud heads protrude. Make sure to remove whole cloves before serving as they have a strong, pungent and slightly unpleasant flavour on their own.
Cloves have a long shelf life, lasting up to a year, if they are kept in a cool, dark place away from light.
All the best Jan