8 Best Benefits of Niger Seed Oil

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Niger seed oil has been recognized for its many impressive effects on human health, particularly its ability to speed healing, protect the skin, improve heart health, help with weight gain, aid sleep, stimulate circulation, and reduce inflammation, among others.

Niger Seed Oil

This important oil, although you may have never heard of it before, is derived from an annual herb that grows in various parts of Ethiopia, Malawi, and India. Bearing the scientific name of Guizotia abyssinica [1]this plant goes by many other names, depending on what part of the world you’re in, including nyger, ramtil or blackseed. The Niger seed is actually a fruit, called an achene, but due to its similar appearance to sunflower seeds (albeit smaller), it is commonly considered a seed that is fit for human consumption. The only real product derived from this herbal plant is the seed, from which a volatile and nutrient-rich oil can be pressed. Extraction of the oil is relatively easy, following an intense heating process during which any contaminants are neutralized. These seeds actually yield about 35% of their weight as oil, which makes it relatively inexpensive to find and utilize in your cooking.

Niger seed oil is packed with beneficial fatty acids and linoleic acid and has a similar composition to sunflower oil. Therefore, this oil is often used as a substitute cooking oil, particularly in areas where Niger seeds are grown in high quantities. The seeds have various other uses, in chutneys, curries and other health infusions, but the oil is where the real benefit lies, due to the concentrated nature of the nutrients there. [2]

A flat lay picture of nigerseeds kept in a white plate against a white background

Niger seeds are nutritionally important because of its high linoleic acid content. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Niger Seed Oil

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of these impressive health effects.

May Act as a Sleep Aid

Magnesium, potassium, and zinc are some of the key minerals that can be found in niger seed oil, and they can also affect the hormonal levels in the body. These minerals can help to stabilize Circadian rhythms and induce the release of certain neurotransmitters that the body needs for proper rest, particularly magnesium. If you are suffering from insomnia or chronic restlessness while sleeping, try to add some niger seed oil and benefit from its many minerals. [3]

May Improve Heart Health

When you replace typical vegetable oils with things like niger seed oil or sunflower seed oil, you are able to improve your cholesterol balance, because these oils possess high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and linoleic acid. This can help lower your chances of developing atherosclerosis, which can further prevent heart attacks and strokes. The anti-inflammatory effects of these healthy fats can also help lower blood pressure and generally reduce the strain on your cardiovascular system. [4]

May Aid in Skin Care

If you are looking for a good solution for scars, burns, rashes, or skin irritation, niger seed oil is an excellent option. The antioxidants found in this oil can help to stimulate the healing process and soothe inflammation. They can also prevent infections in the skin by boosting the immune reactivity at the site of wounds or lacerations. Antioxidants also neutralize free radicals, which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots. [5]

May Speed Up Healing

The mineral and vitamin composition of niger seed oil may make it ideal for stimulating the healing and regrowth of cells and tissues. Protein, fiber, riboflavin, vitamin C and other carbohydrates compacted in this oil are essential for the healing process, so adding this to your diet can do far more than help with your cholesterol issues. When recovering from an injury or surgery, consider switching to this oil for your culinary needs. [6]

May Reduce Inflammation

The wealth of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in niger seed oil make it popular for people struggling with arthritis, gout, rheumatism, fever, or high blood pressure. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress. By its very definition, oxidative stress causes inflammation in the body, so eliminating those free radicals is a great place to start. [7]

May Relieve Gastrointestinal Issues

This type of alternative seed oil is quite similar to rapeseed and sunflower oils, both of which can soothe gastrointestinal problems, including constipation, bloating, cramping, hemorrhoids, and general stomach upset. The oil can help to coat the stomach and reduce inflammation, and may also protect against any bad bacteria in the gut that may be compromising your immune system or preventing proper nutrient uptake. [8]

May Promote Healthy Weight Gain

The fatty acids and proteins found within this oil are ideal if you are trying to gain weight in a healthy way. Following an injury or illness, boosting weight gain is often desired, and the balance of omega-3s and other nutrients can promote healthy weight gain for those patients or consumers. If you are not trying to gain weight, you may simply use this oil in moderation, but you don’t need to worry about this oil pumping in excessive calories or “bad” cholesterol into your system. [9]

May Boost Immune System

This oil has been shown to have possibly anti-parasitic and antioxidant qualities that can help when topically applied or consumed. If you want to prevent various infections and strengthen the overall immune system, then use niger seed oil on your skin for external infections, and consume it in your food for internal protection. [10]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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