Cloves nutrition facts
Cloves are one of the highly prized spices well recognised all over the world for their medicinal and culinary qualities. They are the "flower buds" from evergreen rain forest tree native to Indonesia.
Botanically, the spice belongs to the family of myrtaceae of the genus; Sygyzium, and scientifically named as Sygizium aromaticum.
The flower buds are initially pale in color, gradually turn to green, and, finally develop into a bright red clove buds, when they are ready for harvesting. Buds are generally, picked up when they reach 1.5-2 cm in length.
Medicinal properties and health benefits of cloves
The active principles in the clove are known to have antioxidant, anti-septic, local anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, rubefacient (warming and soothing), carminative and anti-flatulent properties.
The spice contains many health benefiting essential oils such as eugenol, a phenyl-propanoids class of chemical compound, which gives pleasant, sweet aromatic fragrances to the clove-bud. Eugenol has local anesthetic and antiseptic properties, hence; useful in dental treatment procedures.
The other important constituents in this spice include:-
essential oils: acetyl eugenol, beta-caryophyllene and vanillin, crategolic acid;
tannins: gallotannic acid, methyl salicylate (pain-killer);
the flavonoids: eugenin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and eugenitin;
triterpenoids: like oleanolic acid, stigmasterol and campesterol;
and several sesquiterpenes.
The active principles in the clove may increase the motility of the gastro-intestinal tract as well as improve the digestion power by increasing gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions. Thus, helps relieve indigestion and constipation problems.
The spice also contains good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and magnesium. Potassium in an important electrolyte of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.
It contains very good amounts of vitamin A and beta carotene levels. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is also required by the body for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in flavonoids helps to protect body from lung and oral cavity cancers.
This spice is a good source of vitamin-K, vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), vitamin-C and riboflavin. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen free radicals.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.15 g||0.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||5.4 g||14%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.338 mg||7%|
|Vitamin A||13 IU||0.5%|
|Vitamin C||11.7 mg||20%|
|Vitamin E||0.19 mg||1%|
|Vitamin K||14.8 mcg||12%|
Selection and storage
The spice is available year around in the markets. Good quality cloves release sweet fragrance when squeezed between the thumb and index fingers. In the store, buy whole buds instead of powder since, oftentimes it may contain adulterated spicy powders. The cloves should be wholesome with stem and sepals, and compact.
Whole cloves should be stored in cool dark place, in airtight containers for many months and can be milled using "hand mill" as and when required. Ground/powder clove should be stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers and should be used as early as possible since it loses its flavor quickly.
The essential oil, eugenol in this spice has been in therapeutic use in dentistry as a local anesthetic and antiseptic for teeth and gum.
Eugenol also has been found to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics, but further detailed studies required to establish its benefits.
The decoction is sometimes used in treating flatulence and indigestion in traditional medicine preparations.
It is also believed to have natural anti-parasite (kills intestinal worms) function.
The essential volatile oils functions as rubefacient, meaning that it irritates the skin and expands the blood vessels, increasing the flow of blood to make the skin feel warmer, making it a popular home remedy for arthritis and sore muscles, used either as a poultice or in hot baths.
- clove oil is also used in aromatherapy.
In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, clove is generally grounded just before preparing dishes and added at the last moment in the cooking recipes. This is because prolonged cooking results in evaporation of its essential oils.
This popular spice has been used in preparation of many popular dishes in Asian and Chinese cuisine since ancient times. Along with other spices like pepper, turmeric, ginger, etc... it is being used in marinating chicken, fish and meats.
Some Indian vegetarian and chicken curries and rice dishes (biriyani) contain cloves and in the Middle East it is used in meat and rice dishes.
They are also been used in the preparation of soups, barbecue sauces, pickling and as main ingredient in variety of curry powders.
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