Most folks reach for the cloves on their spice rack maybe once or twice a year around the holidays. And that’s a darn shame, because this delicious, aromatic spice can do a whole lot more for you than simply flavor your Christmas or Easter ham.
In fact, cloves are a hidden super-food, brimming with a bunch of health benefits. Following are just four of the many ways you can put cloves to work for you starting today.
1. Light up your love life:
Just in time for Valentine’s Day I’ve got a clove benefit you’re going to adore. It turns out cloves could help heat things up in the romance department. According to research published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, cloves can bump up testosterone levels, a benefit that could help light your fire, whether you’re a man or a woman.1
But the key here is moderation. Go overboard and you can do more harm than good.
Try it tip: Keep it simple like a sprinkle of ground cloves in your morning coffee or a dash in your dinner stir fry.
2. Dampen damaging free radicals:
Oxidants—or free radicals—are found in the environment, but they’re also produced by your body to fend off viruses or microbes. Left unchecked they eventually can damage your healthy cells leading to a dizzying number of illnesses and chronic diseases.
That’s where antioxidants come in. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. And it turns out those cloves you’ve been ignoring since Christmas are an incredibly potent antioxidant.
In fact, when researchers tested the antioxidant ability of cloves against oregano, thyme, rosemary and sage the cloves blew the other spices right out of the water, according to a study published in Flavour and Fragrance Journal.2
Try it tip: Cloves add a surprisingly delicious kick to cottage cheese or yogurt. Or try blending a sprinkle into your next fruit smoothie.
3. Fight off infections:
Cloves are naturally antifungal and using them regularly could help create a barrier against a variety of fungal infections.3 Plus studies have found that cloves can be effective against a number of infection-causing bacteria too.4
In an animal study published in the Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection, mice whose diet were supplemented with clove oil were protected from pneumonia-triggering bacteria.5 The cloves helped keep the dangerous bugs from colonizing the critter’s lungs.
They’ve even been explored as a potential weapon against malaria with some positive results.6 And let’s face it, if cloves can put up a fight against THOSE powerful parasites they probably can help you handle a run of the mill, mild infection at home.
Try it tip: Turn breakfast up a notch by sprinkling some ground cloves into your steel-cut oatmeal. Or cut up some sweet potatoes, carrots and beets and season them with a few sprinkles of ground cloves, a dash of cinnamon and pinch of rosemary. Roast them for a super side dish that will turn your ordinary dinner into a gourmet affair.
4. Build a better brain:
A growing stack of studies hint at the power of cloves to help protect our brain and beef up its power.
One study, published in the journal Planta Medica, revealed that cloves may help improve our memory and learning ability.7 When mice with memory and learning impairments were given a clove-oil supplement for three weeks they were able to solve mazes significantly faster and showed improvements in both their short and long term memory.
Several studies have explored the use of a eugenol, a compound extracted from cloves, to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.8,9,10 And while the research is still in its early stages the results, so far, are very promising.
Try it tip: To make a simple homemade chai inspired tea put two or three cloves, a crushed cardamom seed and a cinnamon stick into an infuser and place it, and a black tea bag, in a tall mug. Add boiling hot water and allow it to steep for two minutes. Stir in a dash of honey if you like, and sip.