Both spicy and sweet, cardamom has been a traditional medicine and pantry staple across the globe for centuries. Beyond its warming flavor, the spice also has some unique pregnancy-related benefits.
When eaten in the typical amounts found in foods, cardamom is considered a safe spice to use during pregnancy. Cardamom essential oil is also popular, as aromatherapy with this oil can help reduce feelings of nausea. Steer clear of large, medical amounts of cardamom, as large volumes of the spice can be unsafe while pregnant.
Cardamom is an intriguing spice to many who aren’t familiar, especially as there are quite a few ways to enjoy its distinct flavor and scent. Keep reading for some tips on which kind to purchase and how you can incorporate cardamom into your routine for its pregnancy-related health benefits.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Cardamom? Is It Safe?
Cardamom has been used in traditional and alternative medicine for thousands of years and is widely popular across Middle Eastern and Asian countries (source: Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences).
This warming spice is quite versatile, and not just a pantry staple during the winter months. Cardamom can be found as pods, whole seeds, and ground into a fine powder- how most folks are likely to be familiar with the spice (source: Taste of Home).
Cardamom is a key ingredient in many Indian curries, Arabian coffees, and even in sweet Scandinavian cardamom rolls (source: Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences).
Cardamom is also drunk as tea, where it is commonly found in chai. The spice often is used as an aromatherapy or topical oil as well. I’ll cover these two uses more in-depth a bit later in this article.
But just because cardamom is a part of traditional medicine doesn’t mean that it’s always safe, especially during pregnancy.
According to the FDA, cardamom is safe when eaten in an amount typically used in foods (the amount of cardamom included in an average recipe). Where cardamom becomes risky is when it’s used in large, medicinal amounts.
Due to a potential risk of miscarriage when consumed in very large amounts, this use of cardamom is rated as “possibly unsafe” by the FDA (source: WebMD).
While pregnant, it is safest to stick to using cardamom in food amounts, avoiding large medicinal doses and supplements.
Green vs Black Cardamom During Pregnancy
Despite being two different “types” of cardamom, green and black cardamom both come from the same plant. The difference is that black cardamom pods are harvested after they have matured and are then dried over a fire to produce a deeper flavor (source: Taste of Home, The Spruce Eats).
Neither variety is “better” or more or less safe during pregnancy. The best type of cardamom to use is the one whose flavor profile matches the dish you are preparing.
- Green cardamom- sweeter and brighter flavor, used in both sweet and savory dishes
- Black cardamom- deeper and smokier flavor with notes of menthol, best for savory dishes
Is Cardamom Tea Safe During Pregnancy?
If you’re a masala chai lover, then you’re already familiar with cardamom- whether you’ve picked out its spicy sweetness in the blend or not.
Aside from chai, cardamom is included in many herbal teas and even as a tea all on its own. Cardamom-containing herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free. If you’re experiencing morning sickness, cardamom tea can play double-duty, calming nausea and hydrating at the same time.
Chai, however, typically contains around 26 mg of caffeine per serving (source: USDA). If you enjoy the flavor of chai but are looking to either cut down or eliminate your caffeine intake while pregnant, there are still plenty of cardamom-flavored beverage options. For more on chai tea during pregnancy, read this article.
Try another tea blend, such as a cardamom-cinnamon blend for a similar flavor without the caffeine.
Is Cardamom Oil OK When You’re Pregnant?
Cardamom essential oil is used for everything from cooking and skincare to aromatherapy, but using essential oils safely during pregnancy can be tricky.
Cardamom essential oil is regarded as a safe oil to use while expecting (source: Moreland OB-Gyn).
For nausea sufferers, cardamom essential oil may offer some relief! While not directly studied in pregnant women, patients experiencing nausea due to chemotherapy treatments saw a reduction in nausea after inhaling cardamom essential oil through the practice of aromatherapy (source: International Journal of Preventive Medicine).
It’s also thought that taking a few drops orally can calm an upset stomach (source: Moreland OB-Gyn).
Remember that essential oils are highly concentrated. It is safest to dilute them with a liquid or a “carrier oil” before ingesting or applying essential oils to your skin.
Is Cardamom Safe in Every Trimester?
Because cardamom is considered by the FDA to be safe when eaten or used in typical food amounts, this recommendation is carried throughout the entire pregnancy. Whether you are in your first, second, or third trimester, cardamom is a safe seasoning to use in dishes, teas, and other drinks.
Likewise, the recommendation to avoid large, medicinal amounts of cardamom due to its rating as “possibly unsafe” also extends throughout the entire prenatal period.
Is Cardamom Good During Pregnancy? Are There Benefits?
Having been used in traditional medicine for centuries, cardamom is bound to have some health benefits.
Like I mentioned above, smelling cardamom decreased symptoms of nausea for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
While nausea for these patients wasn’t pregnancy-induced, cardamom’s stomach-setting effects may also help alleviate nausea from other causes, such as morning sickness (source: International Journal of Preventive Medicine).
Another small trial using cardamom supplements showed just that! Pregnant women who took cardamom before meals reported significantly less nausea (source: Complementary Medicine Journal).
Keep in mind that while this study did provide cardamom supplements, taking such supplements is not actually recommended during pregnancy.
Tip: For more foods that stop morning sickness in its tracks, read our article 12 Food to Fight Pregnancy Nausea and Morning Sickness.
Aside from nausea, researchers found that consistently taking cardamom decreased fatty liver while improving cholesterol levels (source: BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies).
Cardamom also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be helpful during pregnancy as the immune system is weakened (source: Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences).
While many of the studies available were not pregnancy-specific, it is likely that the benefits extend to this special time as well.
The only caveat is to avoid using large, medicinal amounts of cardamom. It is best, and safest, to reap the health benefits with cardamom-infused beverages and cardamom-seasoned recipes, as opposed to taking cardamom capsules/supplements.
Cardamom can prove quite useful during pregnancy, as both inhaling the oil and eating the spice may alleviate morning sickness. Keep in mind, the safest way to incorporate cardamom into your routine is to stick with food amounts, as large supplemental amounts may be unsafe.