Cloves, one of the oldest spice have been used in Asia for more than 2000 years. This little spice was a treasured commodity by the ancient Romans. It is said that in 200 BC, Chinese courtiers would take them as breath freshener when addressing the emperor so that their breath would not smell bad. Cloves were introduced to Europe in the 4th century by Arab traders.
The English name of this spice was derived from the Latin word Clavus which means nail. Its Latin name is Eugenia caryphyllus and scientific name is syzygium aromaticum, an evergreen tree and is a member Myrtle family. Cloves are native to the Moluccas, an island of Indonesia. They are cultivated in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Madagascar.
Cloves are actually dried, unopened pink flower buds gathered from the evergreen clove tree that grows in tropical climates of the world. They are picked by hand while they are pink and are dried until they turn brown in color. Their exterior part is very hard and their flesh produces an oily compound essential to their flavorful and nutritional profile.
Tiny as they are, cloves are a powerhouse of nutrition and health benefits. They are loaded with vitamin C, and K, including vital minerals, particularly manganese, an important trace mineral and antioxidant that is responsible in the proper development of bones as well as metabolic process and reproduction function. This superfood has a significant amount of eugenol, a phenypropene chemical compound that is often used as flavoring or fragrance. In medicine, this volatile oil is used as anesthetic that can relieve pain when applied to skin. In dentistry, it can be applied to cavities or used during restorative procedures. Cloves are also known to treat asthma. Its antimicrobial properties can clear skin problems like acne and warts. They have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic and anti-inflammatory properties. Their other uses include stimulation of the mind, aids in digestion, ease cough, and prevent diarrhea. It is also used to keep food from spoiling.
As a food safety measure, cloves are not to be taken in large quantity by mouth as a medicine especially by pregnant and breastfeeding women. Cloves are also known to slow down blood clotting and should be avoided during or after surgery. When taken in food quantity and applied externally to skin, cloves are relatively safe.
Clove fun facts: In the Molucca Island, the natives would plant a clove tree for each child born as they believed that the fate of a child is linked to the fate of the clove tree.
Eat clean. Stay fit. Enjoy life.Photo by: http://draxe.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/bigstock-Cloves-spice-And-Wooden-Spoo-45136120.jpg