Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)

Cloves are the flower buds of the clove tree, an evergreen also known as Syzygium aromaticum. Found in both whole and ground forms, this versatile spice can be used to season pot roasts, add flavor to hot beverages, and bring spicy warmth to cookies and cakes. You may know cloves as one of the main ingredients in gingerbread baked goods or a staple spice in Indian cuisine. Cloves are best known as a sweet and aromatic spice, but they have also been used in traditional medicine. In fact, animal studies have found that the compounds in cloves may have several health benefits, including supporting liver health and helping stabilize blood sugar levels .

Cloves contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals, so using whole or ground cloves to add flavor to your food can provide some important nutrients. One teaspoon (2 grams) of ground cloves contains: Calories: 6, Carbs: 1 gram, Fiber: 1 gram, Manganese: 55% of the Daily Value (DV), Vitamin K: 2% of the DV.

Manganese is an essential mineral for maintaining brain function and building strong bones. Apart from being a rich source of manganese, cloves are only used in small amounts and do not provide significant amounts of nutrients. Some research suggests that the compounds found in cloves might help protect against cancer. One test-tube study found that clove extract helped stop the growth of tumors and promoted cell death in cancer cells.

Another test-tube study observed similar results, showing that concentrated amounts of clove oil caused cell death in 80% of esophageal cancer cells. The eugenol found in cloves has also been shown to have anticancer properties.A test-tube study found that eugenol promoted cell death in cervical cancer cells. However, keep in mind that these test-tube studies used very concentrated amounts of clove extract, clove oil, and eugenol. Eugenol is toxic in high amounts and overdosing on clove oil may cause liver damage, especially in children. Further research is needed to determine how lower amounts may affect humans.

Low bone mass is a condition that affects an estimated 43 million older adults in the United States alone. It can lead to the development of osteoporosis, which may increase the risk of breaks and fractures. Some of the compounds in cloves have been shown to help preserve bone mass in animal studies. For example, an animal study found that clove extract high in eugenol improved several markers of osteoporosis and increased bone density and strength.

Cloves are also rich in manganese, providing an impressive 30% of the DV in just 1 teaspoon (2 grams) of ground cloves. Manganese is a mineral that’s involved in the formation of bone and incredibly important to bone health. An animal study found that taking manganese supplements for 12 weeks increased bone mineral density and bone growth.