Tempering or seasoning a dish takes it to another level. Cumin is a common and well-known ingredient used in tempering.
The reason cumin is a staple in most cuisines is its therapeutic value. Traditional and folk medicines vouch for its digestive, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory properties (1). How does cumin affect your health? Why should or shouldn’t you use it? Get answers to these questions and more in this quick read.
Table Of Contents
Cumin Seeds: In Detail
The cumin (Cuminum cyminum) plant belongs to the Apiaceae family. The seeds of this plant are a popular culinary spice. Cumin is one of the earliest crops to be cultivated in Asia, Europe, and Africa (1).
The seeds of this plant have been used in traditional medicine for treating digestive, lung, and liver disorders. Cumin seeds are now integral in folk medicine across Northern Europe to the Mediterranean regions, Russia, Indonesia, Iran, and North America (1).
But what good do these active components do to your health? Move on to the next section for the answer(s).
What Are The Benefits Of Cumin Seeds?
Cumin seeds are an excellent digestive aid. They reduce bloating and gas. Drinking cumin water might help you lose body weight. These seeds can maintain the blood cholesterol levels too.
1. Aid Digestion
Traditional medicine vouches for the carminative property of cumin seeds. It uses ginger, celery seed, thyme, anise, and fennel, along with cumin to relieve flatulence and bloating (3).
These seeds can stimulate the liver to secrete bile rich in bile acids. Bile acids help in effective fat digestion and absorption. Due to the anti-inflammatory and analgesic (painkilling) effects, cumin seeds can control abdominal pain and spasms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (4), (5).
Research shows that cumin can also prevent gastrointestinal complications after Cesarean section in pregnant women. It does so by decreasing the colicky pains, heartburn, and delayed gas passage (5).
2. Promote Weight Loss
Obesity is linked to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and osteoarthritis. Exercise and suitable diet plans may accelerate the weight loss process. Supporting herbal medicine has shown positive results in this case. Cumin is a traditional remedy for weight loss (6).
Consuming cumin and lime may reduce appetite and increase lipolysis. A clinical study revealed that cumin-lime administration for 8 weeks reduced the BMI (body mass index) and total cholesterol levels in the subjects (6).
Eating cumin powder (about 3 g/day) with yogurt post meals for 3 months reduced the waist circumference in obese women. It increased HDL levels and cut down the fat mass (7).
3. Possess Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Cumin seeds contain nearly 3-4% of the essential oil. Cumin essential oil is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-allergic agent. It has active phytochemicals that bring about these effects.
Cumin seed oil inhibits the production of anti-inflammatory compounds, including interleukins (IL-1 and IL-6), tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), and nitric oxide (NO). This oil also prevents the activation of immune system cells involved in inflammation (8).
Hence, cumin is often added to the anti-inflammatory diet (AID) regimens. Along with spices like turmeric, ginger, rosemary, clove, etc., cumin seeds can relieve several inflammatory disorders (9).
4. Control Cholesterol Levels
The dried seeds of cumin have flavonoids with antioxidant capacity. They inhibit lipid peroxidation, which, in turn, causes a dip in oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL) levels. The accumulation of ox-LDL is linked to atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease (10).
Cumin contains cuminaldehyde and flavonoids that lower the levels of ox-LDL. The active components, along with manganese and zinc, activate your body’s antioxidant enzymes (10).
These enzymes (like superoxide dismutase, catalase, etc.) scavenge free radicals that trigger lipid peroxidation. These effects extend to protect you from diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (10).
5. Help Manage Diabetes
Rat studies demonstrate the antidiabetic effect of cumin. The cumin flavonoids lower blood glucose levels, thanks to their antioxidant property. The free radical-scavenging effect was more pronounced in individuals with diabetes than the control rats (11).
Administering cumin extracts to those with diabetes type II may decrease the fasting blood sugar and serum insulin levels. Researchers also report a drop in the levels of glycosylated hemoglobin, which is a pathological indicator for diabetes (12).
Due to the anti-inflammatory activity, cumin seeds or their extracts mitigate the complications of diabetes. Also, green cumin was found to have stronger antidiabetic properties than the black variant (11), (12).
Nutritional Profile Of Cumin Seeds
|Nutrient||Unit||1 tsp, whole or 2.1g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||0.93|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||0.2|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||0.2|
|Vitamin A, RAE||ug||1|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||27|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||0.07|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||g||0.032|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||g||0.295|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||0.069|
Cumin is also an excellent source of bioactive ingredients. It contains volatile oils (3-4%) and 45-50% of cuminaldehyde, which is its primary active principle (2).
Limonene, α- and β-pinene, 1,8-cineole, o- and p-cymene, α- and γ-terpinene, safranal and linalool are other phytochemicals identified in cumin. Extracts of cumin seeds contain various alkaloids, flavonoids, isoflavonoids, tannins, lignins, and phenolic compounds.
These phytochemicals and nutrients give cumin its characteristic properties. You can put them to work by adding cumin seeds to your cooking. Get some good quality seeds here.
Read on to find out how else you can use cumin.
What Are The Different Ways To Take Cumin?
You can also find ground cumin seed powder. This can be used in making curries, stews, and sauces. Buy it here.
If you don’t like to add the seeds or the powder to your food, there is another good option. Cumin is available in the form of capsules. Buy them here.
Traditional practitioners recommend cumin water as an effective remedy for acute disorders. This drink can help you lose weight, boost immunity, and clean your gut.
Here’s how you make it.
How To Make Cumin Water/Jeera Water/Cumin Tea
You can make cumin water by boiling or soaking the seeds.
Method 1: Boiling
- Add 1.5 liters of drinking water to a boiling pot.
- Add 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds to the water.
- Turn the heat on (high flame) and boil the contents for about 20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and keep the pot aside to cool down.
- Strain the cumin water into serving cups or bottles.
- Your cumin water is ready!
Method 2: Soaking
- Add a teaspoon of cumin to a glass of drinking water.
- Leave the seeds overnight to soak.
- The next morning, discard the seeds and drink the water on an empty stomach.
You can replace bottles of regular water with cumin water. Try adding cinnamon or lime juice to this drink to make it tastier.
Despite all the efforts, if you still don’t like the taste of cumin, you can substitute it with caraway seeds. Ground coriander powder also works well in the place of cumin powder.
You can also try curry powder or taco seasoning mix if you run out of cumin powder.
Adding cumin to your dishes makes your meals healthier. But what happens when you have too much of it?
Does Cumin Have Any Side Effects Or Risks?
One of the most reported effects of excessive cumin consumption is drug interactions (1).
Active cumin compounds may interact with these drugs and cause hypoglycemia (sudden drop in blood sugar levels). They can also lead to longer bleeding time (13).
However, there are hardly any reports on the toxicity of cumin. It is presumed that this herb is safe for human consumption, even at high doses. Cumin oil can cause mild to moderate irritation. Read the safety sheet carefully before using (14).
Do not get confused with the studies on black cumin seeds. The green and black varieties might be metabolized differently.
It is best to consult your healthcare provider or a nutritionist to understand how cumin works.
Cumin is a spice found in almost every Indian, African, and Middle Eastern kitchen. The seeds impart a warm and appetizing smell and taste to dishes. They also have a high therapeutic value.
The seeds, oil, powder, and capsules of cumin offer digestive relief and boost immunity. Start by consuming cumin water regularly. Tell us how you liked it by leaving a comment below. You can also send in your queries and feedback here.
Until next time, happy cumin cooking!
- “Cuminum cyminum and Carum carvi: An update” Pharmacognosy Review, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Chemistry, technology, and nutraceutical functions…” Critical reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Prevention and Treatment of Flatulence From a Traditional…” Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Digestive stimulant action of spices : A myth or reality?” Review Article, Indian Journal of Medical Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Cumin Extract for Symptom Control in Patients” Middle East Journal of Digestive Diseases, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “The Effect of Cumin cyminum L. Plus Lime Administration on Weight…” Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Effect of cumin powder on body composition and…” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Cumin Essential Oil by Blocking…” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET(AID): A CLINICIAN’S GUIDE” Whole Health for Pain and Suffering: An Integrative Approach, Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation.
- “Effect of cumin extract on oxLDL, paraoxonase 1 activity…” International Journal of Health Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Evaluation of the Blood-Glucose Reducing Effects of Aqueous…” Research Article, Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research.
- “Evaluation the effect of 50 and 100 mg doses of Cuminum cyminum essential oil…” Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Ethiopian Traditional and Herbal Medications and…” ethnoMED, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington.
- “CUMIN OIL” TOXNET, U.S. National Library of Medicine, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.