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When it comes to cloves, a little bit goes a long way.
That's because these little spices might look small, but they pack a solid punch of flavor.
But did you know that cloves are actually dried flower buds? Or that the oldest trace of clove use in human history was discovered in a Syrian ceramic vessel dating back to 1700BC?
That's exactly what we are going to discuss in today's episode of Fact vs. Fiction - clove benefits and facts that you probably didn't know!
And if you missed our take on cumin seeds yesterday, don't worry. You can catch up right here.
Fact #1: Cloves are dried flower buds.
Clove buds are picked before they bloom. That's why they always start off green but soon turn brown once they have dried up.
Fact #2: The oldest living clove tree is 400 years old.
Cloves are native to a group of islands (a.k.a an archipelago) in Eastern Indonesia called the Moluccas. These islands were earlier known as spice islands because clove trees grew in only a select few of them.
Afo is the oldest clove tree in the world and grows in the Ternate island of the Moluccas.
Fact #3: The distinct aroma of cloves is because of the compound eugenol.
Eugenol is a sharp and potent compound known for its powerful painkilling properties. And it's this oil that gives clove its distinct aroma because cloves are 80% eugenol.
Fact #4: They can repel insects.
The scent of clove oil is so strong that it repels insects, especially ants and moths.
So if you are facing issues with insect infestation in your cupboards, just wrap a few cloves in a small cotton cloth piece and leave it inside. The insects will run away fast.
Fact #5: Cloves can aid digestion.
Cloves stimulate the secretion of digestive enzymes, and thus, help in digestion. Plus, they are great at reducing flatulence, gastric irritation, nausea, and acid reflux.
Fact #6: It is very effective against cholera.
Cholera is a water-borne disease that causes diarrhea, vomiting, and death, if not treated on time. And studies have shown that cloves have bactericidal effects against a wide range of pathogens, especially the bacteria that cause cholera.
Fact #7: It has anti-cancer properties.
Cloves contain a group of compounds in them called phenylpropanoids that have anti-mutagenic properties. That is they can prevent the genetic material of cells from mutating them into cancer cells.
In fact, studies have shown that cloves are very effective at controlling the early stages of lung cancer.
Fact #8: It can protect your liver.
Cloves are packed with antioxidants, which are great at getting rid of free radicals and toxins from your liver.
Fact #9: They can control diabetes.
Adding cloves to your food is a great way of controlling the complications of type 1 diabetes because the compounds in cloves are known to mimic insulin, which helps regulate high blood sugar.
Fact #10: They increase your white cell count.
White blood cells are the knights of your blood. They protect you from diseases and fight off foreign body infections. That's why having more of them is a good thing (although too many can create problems of their own).
In this respect, cloves are extraordinary because they boost the white blood cell count of your body, and therefore, boost your immunity and prevent allergic reactions.
Fact #11: They have a long history of use for oral ailments.
From toothaches to gum inflammation, cloves are famous in dentistry because of eugenol's potent painkilling and anti-inflammatory properties.
Plus, eugenol is still an integral compound in many dental cements.
Fact #12: They are effective against headaches.
Next time you get a bad headache, just crush a few cloves into a paste, mix a pinch of rock salt and then dissolve this medicine in a glass of milk before you drink it. Your headache will go away instantly.
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Read the next episode - A Magical Plant: 8 Aloe Vera Benefits for Health