The aromatic seeds of cumin are a popular ingredient in North African, Middle Eastern, Western Chinese, Indian and Northern Mexican cuisine. The seeds closely resemble caraway seeds in appearance, but have a different flavor and aroma.
Apart from adding flavor to a dish, cumin boasts health benefits, too. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiflatulent, carminative, stimulant, and antispasmodic properties.
It is an excellent source of dietary fiber and minerals, such as iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium. It also has E, A, C and several B-complex vitamins.
You can use both ground and whole cumin seeds to season curries, soups and stews. Even the powder of dry-roasted cumin seeds can be added to salads, yogurt, smoothies and juices.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of cumin.
1. Aids Digestion
Cumin is a popular ingredient in Ayurveda for digestive problems, such as stomach pain, indigestion, diarrhea, flatulence, nausea and morning sickness.
It stimulates the secretion of pancreatic enzymes that support digestion. It even works as a great acid neutralizer to fight stomach acidity. Plus, being carminative in nature, it reduces gas-related problems.
A 2008 study published in Food Chemistry highlighted the digestive benefits of cumin.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of roasted cumin seed powder in a glass of water. Drink it once or twice daily.
- You can even add ¼ teaspoon each of roasted cumin seed powder and black pepper to a glass of buttermilk and drink it once daily.
2. Cures Bloating
Abdominal bloating makes the stomach feel full and tight due to gas buildup in the small intestine. This can lead to stomach pain and abdominal discomfort.
Bloating can occur due to a number of factors, such as constipation, indigestion, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
A 2013 study published in the Middle East Journal of Digestive Diseases says that cumin extract is effective in improving all IBS symptoms, including bloating.
- Bring 1 cup of water to boil.
- Add 1 pinch each of ground cumin, ginger powder and sea salt along with ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds.
- Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain, allow it to cool and drink it.
- Repeat as needed.
3. Eases Colic Pain
Due to its carminative and wind-relieving qualities, cumin is also good for relieving colic pain, which is a common problem in babies.
- Put 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds in a cup.
- Pour hot water over it and cover it.
- Allow it to steep for 15 minutes.
- Strain the solution.
- Give 1 or 2 teaspoons of this cumin water to your child once a day to soothe colic pain.
4. Treats Anemia
Iron deficiency is one of the main causes of anemia. Being a good source of iron, cumin can help treat this condition. Iron aids the production of hemoglobin, a substance in your blood that transports oxygen throughout your body. Iron also aids in energy production and metabolism.
In fact, 1 tablespoon of cumin provides 4 milligrams of iron.
Include ground cumin in your cooking to prevent iron deficiency and treat anemia while easing symptoms, such as fatigue, anxiety, cognitive malfunction and digestive issues.
5. Induces Lactation
As cumin is rich in iron and calcium, it is very good for lactating mothers as well as pregnant women. It increases secretions from the mammary glands to stimulate milk production.
Furthermore, it provides strength and energy to new mothers after delivery.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of cumin powder in a glass of warm milk.
- Add some honey for taste
- Drink it daily at night (after dinner) for several weeks.
6. Aids Weight Loss
Cumin is an effective addition to any weight-loss diet. A 2014 study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice noted the positive effect of cumin powder on the body composition and lipid profiles of overweight and obese women.
It even helps reduce body fat percentage, fasting cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins (LDL or the ‘bad’ cholesterol).
Furthermore, it makes your metabolism work harder and also cuts down food cravings.
Add 1 teaspoon of dry-roasted cumin seeds to 1 cup of yogurt. Eat it twice daily.
7. Controls Diabetes
According to Ayurveda, cumin also has potential antidiabetic properties.
Plus, a 1998 study published in Nutrition Research noted that when diabetes-induced rats were fed with 1.25 percent ground cumin for eight weeks, they experienced a reduction in hypoglycemia and glucosuria.
Later, a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition confirmed that cumin may aid hypoglycemia.
- Dry roast 8 teaspoons of cumin seeds.
- Grind it into a fine powder.
- Eat ½ teaspoon of this powder along with water.
- Do this twice daily for a few months.
Note: As cumin may interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery, it is recommended not to use this spice at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
8. Enhances Memory
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cumin help improve memory, recall power and concentration level.
It can even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and memory-related problems that come with age, due to its ability to improve blood circulation around the body, including to the brain.
Furthermore, the B vitamins and vitamin E in cumin support neural functioning in the body and boost mental health.
A 2011 study published in Pharmaceutical Biology highlighted the memory-enhancing and anti-stress activity of cumin.
To improve your memory, chew ½ teaspoon of roasted cumin seeds every day.
9. Strengthens Bones
Cumin is even good for your bones. It contains various bone-strengthening nutrients, such as calcium, vitamins A and B12, potassium and magnesium.
It also contains estrogenic compounds that help treat postmenopausal osteoporosis. A 2008 study published in Experimental Biology and Medicine found that methanolic extract of cumin inhibits ovariectomy-induced bone loss in rats.
Include a good amount of cumin in your diet to help strengthen your bones and increase bone density.
10. Fights Insomnia
If you have difficulty enjoying sound sleep night after night, try cumin. It contains melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep, and is considered effective for treating insomnia and other sleep disorders.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of cumin powder in a mashed banana. Eat it daily before going to bed.
- Another option is to drink cumin tea at nighttime. To make the tea, heat 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds on low heat for 2 or 3 seconds, add 1 cup of water and bring it to a boil. Remove it from the heat, cover and steep for 5 minutes. Finally, strain and drink it.
- Always buy good-quality cumin seeds, which have a pleasant yet peppery flavor when squeezed between the index finger and thumb.
- Store the seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place.
- Store ground cumin in the refrigerator in air-sealed containers.