Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) are spices made from flower buds that grow on a tree belonging to the family Myrtaceae. They are aromatic dried flower buds which originated from the Moluccas Islands, also known as Spice Island.

Clove buds possess intense fragrance and burning taste. They have a powerful fragrant odour which is warm, pungent, strongly sweet and slightly astringent. The word clove was derived from the Latin word “clavus” which means “nail.” This is because the shaft and head look so much like a nail.

NUTRIENT CONTENT
Climate determines to a large extent the composition of cloves. Dried clove bud contains carbohydrates, proteins, steam-volatile oil, resins, tannins, cellulose, pentosans and so on. The spice is rich in carbohydrates.

CULINARY USES
Cloves are often used to flavour meat products, pastries, cookies, candies, bubble gum, spiced fruits, hot spiced drinks and chocolate drinks. It is a spice for tomatoes, onions, sausage, soups, salads and herbal teas.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF CLOVES

Anti-microbial activity
Recent research has shown that clove oil is more effective than sodium propionate (standard food preservative) against some food-borne microbes and very effective against Staphylococcus species. Eugenol, which is the main component of clove, has shown antimicrobial activity against some human pathogenic bacteria resistant to certain antibiotics.

Better Digestion
Cloves improve digestion as it helps to stimulate the secretion of digestive enzymes. Cloves are also good for reducing flatulence (buildup of gas in the digestive system that can lead to abdominal discomfort), gastric irritability, dyspepsia (indigestion,), and nausea (vomiting).

Chemo-preventive Properties
Studies have shown that cloves are helpful in controlling lung cancer at its early stages. Oleanolic acid and eugenol present in cloves cause antitumour activity and has anticancer potential against cervical cancer.

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Liver Protection
Cloves contain a high level of antioxidants, which are ideal for protecting the organs from the effects of free radicals, especially the liver. Metabolism increases free radical production and lipid profile, while decreasing the antioxidants in the liver. Cloves extracts are helpful in counteracting these effects with their hepatoprotective properties.

Immunity Booster
Cloves contain compounds that can help to improve the immune system by increasing the white blood cell count in the blood.

Anti-inflammatory Properties
The high amounts of eugenol, a compound with both anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, can help your body deal with infections and inflammation. It also contains kaempferol, rhamnetin, and flavonoids that share the same properties as eugenol.

Diabetes Control
Patients suffering from diabetes often have either no or insufficient levels of insulin in their bodies. Cloves extract can be of advantage in controlling blood sugar levels as they act just like insulin in certain ways. Studies have shown that cloves had been used in traditional remedies for diabetes.

Promotes Weight Loss
Research has found that clove extract reduces the incidence of obesity resulting from a high-fat diet.

Anti-mutagenic Properties
Mutagens are those chemicals that alter the genetic makeup of the DNA by causing mutations. A study cited in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that the biochemical compounds found in cloves, like phenylpropanoids, possess anti-mutagenic properties.

Source: AgroNigeria