You might associate them with festive beverages and spiced bakes. Not just something that’ll add a little extra spice to food and drink, cloves are also packed with potential benefits for the body…
First of all, what are cloves?
Cloves are a spice native to the Spice Islands – an archipelago in northern Indonesia. Nowadays, they’re grown across the globe and used in many different cuisines.1
When unprocessed, cloves are actually the flowers of the Syzygium aromaticum tree. They’re picked and dried to form the small, pointy cloves you can buy in shops today. It’s also possible to buy ground cloves, too.
Clove health benefits
You may just consider cloves as a lovely addition to dishes and sauces. The main reasons for this include the fact they:
Are packed with beta carotene
Just like carrots, cloves get their rich colour from beta carotene.2 This type of compound contains various antioxidants, plus it can famously be converted into vitamin A by the body. Vitamin A is needed for the immune system, the skin, and the eyes.3
Contain various other vitamins and minerals
As well as supporting the body’s production of vitamin A, cloves also contain high amounts of manganese. This mineral helps the body make enzymes which perform essential roles, such as helping digest food.4
Are high in antioxidants
As well as gaining antioxidants from numerous vitamins and minerals, cloves also contain a natural antioxidant known as eugenol. Antioxidants are essential as they help the body fight off free radicals which can cause oxidative stress and critical changes to the cells.5
Have antimicrobial properties
Cloves have also been studied for their ability to stop the growth of bacteria. This has made them a popular ingredient in natural toothpaste and mouthwashes.6
How to include more cloves in your diet
The sweet yet spicy flavour of cloves has long made them an ingredient in sauces, curries, and even cakes! After some ideas on how to make use of cloves? Here are a few to get you started7:
- Add ground cloves to any curry to enhance its flavour
- Make some tasty mulled apple juice by steeping whole or ground cloves, orange peel, cinnamon, and honey in hot apple juice8
- Mix up your own tasty chutneys and add in a dash of clove for flavour
- Create your own batch of Indian garam masala by combining ground cloves with ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon9
- Perk up plain rice by adding in a few whole cloves and a couple of cardamom pods when you’re cooking it
- Shake ground cloves into the batter of a delicious ginger cake or biscuit
- Add a pinch of ground cloves to a white sauce when making things like lasagna
Remember that cloves have a more pungent taste than many other spices so you should use them sparingly. Whole cloves will keep their flavour for longer and can easily be ground down in a pestle and mortar.
Shop our complete range of herbs, spices and seasonings and discover even more ways to liven up your kitchen over on the Health Hub.
Last updated: 8 April 2021