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The magical benefits of cloves

28 Jan 2022

Cloves are the whole flower buds from Eugenia Caryophyllus tree, a member of the Myrtle family. They are native to the Maluku Islands (or Moluccas) in Indonesia, but the spice is now commonly used around the world. Cloves are best known as a sweet and aromatic spice, but they have also been used as food preservatives and health remedies for centuries.

Found in both whole and ground forms, this versatile spice can be used to season curries, add flavour to hot beverages, and bring spicy warmth to cookies and cakes. The flower buds are picked and dried before opening, to maintain their pungent, aromatic flavour. 

Here are some of the benefits of cloves...

High in antioxidants

Cloves are rich in antioxidants – compounds that help reduce oxidative stress and consequently the development of chronic disease.

Cloves contain a myriad of plant compounds that help to fight off free radicals, the excess of which can cause oxidative stress. The main and most potent antioxidant in cloves is called eugenol. In fact, a study suggests that eugenol is five times more effective than vitamin E at inhibiting oxidative damage caused by free radicals! 

May help promote bone health

Cloves are a good source of manganese, and just one teaspoon of ground cloves provides close to 30% of the daily recommended intake. Manganese is a mineral that is involved in the formation of bone mass and plays an important role in the overall health of your bones. Therefore, getting an adequate amount of manganese is crucial and highly recommended, especially in menopausal and post-menopausal women.

Can help relieve digestive discomfort

In addition to being a potent antioxidant, eugenol has also shown to help protect the lining inside your small intestine and increase the production of gastric mucus. As a result, this helps to support gastrointestinal health and prevents maladies such as nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Some studies also suggest that the powerful effects of cloves can help treat stomach ulcers and offer protective effects similar to those of common anti-ulcer medications, but further research is needed to confirm this benefit.

Antimicrobial properties

This Southeast Asian spice is shown to have strong antimicrobial effects against food-borne bacterial pathogens. Once again, this is attributed to the compound eugenol. Studies demonstrate that eugenol is the main necessary component of clove that has significantly higher antimicrobial properties against food microorganisms. This means by adding a bit of cloves into your food, you can steer away some harmful bacteria!

So how are cloves actually used?

Cloves are used extensively in different cuisines globally, including Asian, African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries due to its aromatic and spicy flavour. They are often used with meat, curries, marinades, as well as fruit, especially in traditional desserts. They are also a common element in spice blends and often accompany cinnamon and cumin.

Here is a recipe for a warm and spicy apple crumble cake that features our whole cloves. This is perfect for the holiday season and guaranteed to bring joy to the whole family!

Ingredients ⁣⁣

1 tbsp Dhow whole cloves

1 tbsp coconut nectar

1 medium apple, chopped

1 cup wholemeal spelt flour⁣⁣

1 cup + 2 tbsp almond meal⁣⁣

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon⁣⁣

2 tsp baking powder⁣⁣

1/4 tsp salt⁣⁣

1 tbsp chia seeds

2.5 tbsp water⁣⁣

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

⁣⁣1 tsp vanilla extract⁣⁣

1/4 cup soy milk⁣

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Icing sugar (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. ⁣⁣In the meantime, prepare the stewed apple.
  2. To stew the apples - add chopped apple pieces, whole cloves and coconut nectar to a small pot and cook over medium heat. Add a splash of water as needed.
  3. Once the apple pieces are soft and translucent, remove from heat and pick out each clove by hand. Put the stewed apple aside.
  4. In a small bowl, mix chia seeds and water and let it sit. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
  5. In another small bowl, mix apple cider vinegar and soy milk and allow it to curdle for a few minutes.
  6. In a large bowl, mix spelt flour, almond meal, cinnamon, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix well.
  7. Slowly add in the wet ingredients – mixture from steps 4 and 5, along with olive oil and vanilla extract.
  8. Stir everything through for a few minutes, until you get a smooth cake-like consistency.
  9. Pour about 80% of the mixture into the tray and press firmly. ⁣⁣
  10. Fold in the stewed apple. 
  11. In the remaining cake mixture, add 2 tbsp of almond meal and mix well. 
  12. Add the mixture from the previous step onto the apple layer. I usually like to chunk it up by hand to create that crumble texture. ⁣⁣
  13. Bake for 40-55 minutes, or until evenly cooked. 
  14. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes before topping with the icing sugar. Enjoy! ⁣⁣

Dhow X Soulsfood Nutrition

Thimpika Sachdej, a qualified & registered nutritionist, founded and currently runs Soulsfood Nutrition (@soulsfood_nutrition). A great solution for translating scientific evidence regarding health & nutrition into daily, achievable steps to practice at the comfort of your own home. Soulsfood mainly focuses on the benefits of whole foods and a plant based diet.

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