Cumin is the dried, white fruit with greyish brown colour of a small slender annual herb. The surface of the fruit has 5 primary ridges, alternatively has 4 less distinct secondary ridges bearing numerous short hairs. The plant is 15 to 50 cm high. The aromatic seed like fruit is elongated, ovoid, 3 to 6 mm long, slightly bitter and has a warm flavour. The flowers are white or rose coloured in small umbels.
Uses: Cumin seed have an aromatic odour and bitter taste. It is used as a condiment, and is an ingredient in curry powders, seasonings of breads, cakes and cheese. It is employed in native dishes of Central and South America. In medicine, it is used as a stimulant, carminative, stomachic and astringent. Cumin seed oil is used in perfumery and for flavouring liqueurs and cordials.
Health Benefits of Cumin:
Cumin has long been used in traditional medicine. Also modern studies have confirmed some of the health benefits cumin is traditionally known for. Here are some of the health benefits of Cumins:
Promotes Digestion: Cumin aids digestion. It is a known for its carminative properties and is helpful in many digestive issues, like indigestion and flatulence. Thymol one of the essential oils in cumin seeds also helps stimulate the salivary glands that help to digest food. it also increases the activity of digestive enzymes, potentially speeding up digestion.
Cumin also increases the release of bile from the liver. Bile helps digest fats and certain nutrients. Cumin is also reported to be helpful in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Also read about the benefits of other commonly used spices like Ginger, Fenugreek, Fennel, Curry Leaves, Cumin Seeds, Coriander, Cloves, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Bay Leaves, Basil, Asafoetida, Aniseeds, on our digestion and metabolism.
Antioxidant: Cumin contains antioxidants which help to reduce damage to our body from free radicals. Free radicals are basically lonely electrons. Electrons like being in pairs and when they split up, they become unstable. These lone, or “free” electrons steal other electron partners away from other chemicals in your body. This process is called “oxidation.”
The oxidation of fatty acids in your arteries leads to clogged arteries and heart disease. Oxidation also leads to inflammation in diabetes, and the oxidation of DNA can contribute to cancer. Antioxidants in cumin give an electron to a lonely free radical electron, making it more stable.
Antioxidants help prevent diseases like cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Basically, antioxidants can make your immune system better to keep you healthier and more energetic.
Diabetes: Some studies have found that harmful compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) may also have a powerful effect on our metabolic health — regardless of your weight. AGEs accumulate naturally as we age and are created when certain foods are cooked at high temperatures. In one studey it was found that concentrated cumin supplement improved early indicators of diabetes in overweight individuals. Cumin contains several components that reduce AGEs.
Weight Loss: Cumin helps in reducing fat and weight loss.
You may also like to read Diet and Weight Loss.
Rich Source of Iron: Cumin seeds are known to be rich in iron and hence helpful in Anemia. One of the main causes of Anemia is known to be iron deficiency in our blood.
Improves Cholesterol: Cumin helps to lower cholesterol levels due to its antioxidant properties. A dietary supplement of cumin powder mixed in yogurt helped reduce cholesterol. The results of various studies have demonstrated that there was a significant decrease in the level of oxLDL after receiving cumin.
Anti-inflammatory: Cumin have several components that are anti-inflammatory. The essential oils in cumin create an effective anti-congestive and expectorant that loosens up phlegm and mucus accumulation in the respiratory tract.
Anti-Bacterial: Some components in Cumin have anti bacterial and anti microbial properties. They help to reduce the growth of food borne bacteria.
Prevents Cancer: Cumin seeds have anticarcinogenic properties which have the ability to keep cancer cells from multiplying. Active ingredients in cumin seeds containing essential oils, proteins, alkaloids, and saponins rich in the antioxidant thymoquine has strong anti-carcinogenic properties.
Helps Insomnia and Stress: Cumin seeds help in sharpen memory and reduce stress levels. Cumin seeds also contain calming properties and is helpful for people suffering with insomnia.
Improves Cognitive Function: Cumin can help your body by stimulating your central nervous system to be more effective. It helps fighting memory loss and greater control over your limbs. It also reduces stress which also results in forgetfulness. Cumin seeds can be helpful to fight Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Effect of the cumin cyminum L. Intake on Weight Loss, Metabolic Profiles and Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress in Overweight Subjects: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial – PubMed (nih.gov)