Chances are you’ve tasted the sharp flavor of cloves … in the dentist chair. Yep, dentists have been using clove oil as an anti-bacterial agent for many moons. It’s something our mothers and their mothers once practiced. Cotton soaked in clove oil is a godsend for sore teeth.
Cloves are also monster antioxidants. They are conquerors on the free radicals that our aging bodies produce. As an essential oil, clove’s ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) rating soars to over 10 million. Most other antioxidants are rated in the tens of thousands to a max of a few hundred thousand at best.
A compound called eugenol is what gives cloves it’s A+ standing in the war on aging. This amazing component comprises 85-95 percent of the essential oil that is extracted from this curiously shaped unopened dried flower bud**.
What exactly are antioxidants and how do they help us in our war on aging?
These soldiers (actually they act more like paramedics) patrol our insides fixing and repairing any damaged cells they encounter. Studies show that antioxidants thwart cancer and other age-related diseases; they shield our joints, conserve our powers of memory and even help to relax and soothe creaky old muscles.
What about free radicals?
We live in a polluted world fraught with chemicals and undesirable substances that can damage our body cells. Even normal byproducts that we generate such as stress and other negative reactions can contribute to free radicals. These are molecules in our bodies that have lost one of their electrons rendering them extremely unstable. In a bid to find their partner electron they try to attach to any other electron they meet, even if that one already has a mate.
Free radicals are like stealth fighters and once they’re in they show no mercy. You can help protect yourself by eating clean, not smoking, exercising and generally doing all the stuff that you know is good for you.
So how do cloves help?
They do what all antioxidants do but they do it remarkably well. They replace the missing electron in your free radical thereby reverting it to its lawful civilian status in your body.
Clove oil can be much too powerful and can cause some unpleasant side effects, so use whole cloves as your ultimate winning tactic. And be creative. Cloves are very versatile. They can be used in fruit punches, in ham and are almost always an ingredient in authentic Indian cooking.
Consider them your lucky charm.
Indian Pilaf with Whole Cloves Recipe
1. Heat the coconut oil in a medium-sized pot.
2. Toss in the spices and stir until you can smell their aroma. This shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds.
3. Add the rice and stir for about a minute or so. The rice should start to turn translucent.
4. Now add the water. Wait for it to boil, then turn the stove down to simmer. The pilaf is ready when the water has been fully absorbed.
** This hearty little spice originated in the volcanic islands of Indonesia known as the Moluccas. Very aptly, they used to be called the Spice Islands. Cloves are now grown commercially in Zanzibar, India and other tropical countries.
Next up? Vitamin K.