There's more to cardamom than the obvious aroma and the distinct warm flavor that it adds to your food. Researchers call the spice a superfood that has the potential to provide a range of benefits from enhancing appetite to reducing inflammation.

The study, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, evaluated the health and dietary benefits of cardamom.

"Cardamom is a spice little known in the U.S. but very common in other parts of the world. What we found is that this small spice can burn calories and maintain body weight while increasing appetite and food consumption," said Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, principal investigator of the study.

Using live animal specimens, researchers evaluated the impact of various doses of cardamom seeds in a regular diet. Cardamom controlled the neural pathways responsible for controlling fat breakdown in adipose tissue and improving oxidative metabolism in the liver and skeletal muscle.

The team suggests an adult around 132 pounds should consume at least eight to 10 cardamom pods every day (77 milligrams of cardamom bioactive) to bring in the desired benefits.

Cardamom helps both in enhancing appetite and weight loss. Researchers believe the spice can be used in the growing market of sports nutrition, as well as to help improve the appetite of people undergoing medical treatments.

"There is a wide range of potential health products for cardamom and its naturally occurring compounds. Our team has discovered an amazing opportunity to utilize cardamom as a promoter of overall health. Cardamom seeds, with this new functionality, can be used in different industries, including the sports industry, functional foods, and dietary supplements to favor the production of healthier foods," Cisneros-Zevallos explained.

Researchers believe the findings are a win-win for both health-conscious people and farmers who engage in sustainable and environmental cardamom farming.

"Cardamom is of great importance economically for Guatemala. Expanding its use in the U.S. and globally could provide stability to farmers and aid in the immigration crisis observed in recent years," the researcher added.