(NaturalNews) Cloves are often associated with Christmas recipes such as mulled wine and Christmas cake and not widely used in western culture or cuisine outside of the Christmas period. However, cloves have health benefits which could be enjoyed the whole year round.
Cloves are native to Indonesia but the region with the largest production is Zanzibar in eastern Africa. Cloves are the unopened pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. The buds are dried until they turn brown in color and they have a hard exterior but their flesh contains an oily compound high in eugenol. Eugenol has anti-viral, anti-fungal, antiseptic, anaesthetic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cloves have been used for over 2000 years for digestive disorders, to treat tooth pain, arthritis and also for the alleviation of cravings for alcoholics. It has been found that eugenol can also help prevent toxicity from environmental pollutants such as carbon tetrachloride and prevent cancers in the digestive tract.
Cloves are a good source of minerals essential for health
Cloves are a good source of manganese, selenium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K, dietary fiber and vitamin C.
Manganese is an element that plays many essential roles in the body. It aids in the metabolism of proteins and helps activate enzymes needed for the body to use vitamin B1 (thiamin) and vitamin C, and is needed for normal functioning of the nervous system. Manganese is also involved in the formation of the thyroxine hormone in the thyroid gland, and in the production of sex hormones. Manganese also works as an antioxidant to help prevent cancer and heart disease.
Selenium helps skin to heal following injuries sustained from burns. Selenium’s antioxidant properties regenerate vitamins E and C, and decrease aging of the skin. It improves the immune system’s response against bacterial and viral infections, cancer cells, herpes virus, cold sores, and shingles. One of the major nutritional benefits of selenium is changing the levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol for a healthy heart.
Cloves taken as tea, in food or applied to the affected area as a paste can help with pain relief, indigestion, bloating and the symptoms associated with colds and flu such as congestion, headache, joint pain, muscle weakness and coughs.
Cloves are best bought whole rather than as a powder; the oils in the clove can be seen if pressed with a nail and the best quality can be found in health shops and spice markets. A good clove will contain a spherical top inside the crown of the bud and will float vertically in water whereas a stale one will float horizontally.
The tradition of using cloves in winter cooking may have started because the spice has a strong enough taste to cover up the taste of poorly preserved food. However, by consuming the spice in the winter it could also prevent the outbreaks of colds, flu and other viruses that also come as a tradition at wintertime.[Source:- Natural news]