The health benefits of cumin include its ability to aid in digestion, improve immunity, and treat skin disorders and insomnia. It also helps treat anemia, boils, cancer, and respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis.
What is Cumin?
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is a flowering plant which belongs to the family Apiaceae. Cumin seeds are extensively used as a condiment or a spice in culinary practices of the Indian Subcontinent and some other Asian, African and Latin American countries. Both whole and ground cumin is used as a staple in various dishes due to its distinct warm and earthy flavor. Because of its strong aroma, only a small amount of cumin essential oil is used in recipes to provide them with a powerful punch. Both cumin and cumin essential oil boasts a number of important nutrients that can help keep you healthy.
Cumin is an excellent source of iron, manganese, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B1. Other vitamins present in it include thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, C, E, K, and vitamin B6. Cumin contains minerals such as copper, zinc, and potassium. It is also rich in protein, amino acids, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and a reasonable amount of fats and fatty acids. It is very low in saturated fats, sodium, and cholesterol. Consuming about one teaspoon of cumin daily can help you meet your daily nutrient requirements.
Health Benefits of Cumin
Let us look at some of the most important benefits of cumin in detail.
Cumin is extremely good for treating digestive problems. It is also a carminative, which means that it relieves you from gas troubles, and thereby, improves digestion and appetite. Due to its essential oils, magnesium, and sodium content, cumin promotes digestion and also gives relief from stomachaches when taken with hot water.
The very aroma, which comes from an organic compound called cuminaldehyde, the main component of its essential oil, activates the salivary glands in the mouth, which facilitates the primary digestion of food. Next is thymol, a compound present in cumin, which stimulates the glands that secrete acids, bile, and enzymes responsible for complete digestion of the food in the stomach and intestines.
Rich in Iron
Cumin is a rich source of iron which helps in increasing hemoglobin levels, improving blood flow and also promoting a healthy menstrual cycle.
An abundance of iron, the presence of essential oils, vitamin C, and vitamin A in cumin boosts our immune system in a number of ways. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants that stimulate the function and activity of white blood cells. It further helps neutralize free radicals that lead to many diseases, including, but not limited to, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Treats Asthma & Bronchitis
The presence of caffeine (a stimulating agent), and the richly aromatic essential oils (the disinfectants) make cumin an ideal anti-congestive combination for those suffering from respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis. It acts as an expectorant, meaning that it loosens up the accumulated phlegm and mucus in the respiratory tracts, and makes it easier to eliminate them from the system via sneezing or coughing up and spitting. By eliminating as much of the mucus and phlegm as possible, it can inhibit the formation of additional material and help heal the initial condition that led to its formation in the first place.
Cumin helps in protecting skin against fungal and microbial infections due to its disinfectant and antifungal properties. It also aids in reducing signs of premature aging like wrinkles, age spots, and sagging skin. This effect is due to the presence of vitamin E which acts as an antioxidant and combats the free radicals.
Cumin is a stimulant as well as a relaxant at the same time. Some of the components of cumin essential oil are hypnotic in nature and have tranquilizing effects, which also help relieve stress and anxiety that commonly cause insomnia.
Cumin aids in preventing diabetes by reducing the chances of hypoglycemia. It helps to decrease glucosuria, which is a condition where the urine contains too much glucose, also resulting in hypoglycemia and diabetes.
The antiviral and antibacterial properties of cumin help fight infections and foodborne illnesses. It also acts as a disinfectant. The components carvacrol and thymol are responsible for this health benefit of cumin.
Iron-rich cumin can be a nutritious addition to the daily diet of anemic people. It helps relieve the symptoms of anemia like fatigue, anxiety, cognitive malfunction, and digestive issues.
Calcium in cumin helps in increasing the bone-density, thereby delaying the onset of osteoporosis.
Regular use of cumin in food also helps in preventing boils, rashes, pimples, and other signs of excess toxic content. Components such as cuminaldehyde, thymol, and phosphorus are good detoxifying agents which help in the regular removal of toxins from the body. The healthy way of removing toxins is through the excretory system, not through boils.
Cumin aids in clearing up all the symptoms and causes of piles (hemorrhoids). Adding it to your diet also helps in healing infections in the digestive and excretory system and speeds up digestion as well. This is due to the presence of dietary fiber content, and carminative, stimulating, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties in cumin that enables it to act as a natural laxative in a powdered form.
Fights Common Cold
The essential oils present in cumin act as disinfectants and help fight viral infections which are the cause of common cold. Cumin also suppresses the development of coughing in the respiratory system since it dries up the excess mucus. Further, the high content of iron and vitamin C helps strengthen the immune system and keeps infections from forming or becoming worse.
Cumin is rich in iron and thus very good for lactating mothers or pregnant women, as well as for women who are undergoing menses. Moreover, cumin is said to help ease and increase secretion of milk in lactating women due to the presence of thymol.
Cumin has a remarkable amount of calcium (more than 900 mg per 100 grams) which accounts for over 90% of our daily requirement of calcium. This calcium is an important constituent of milk and hence cumin is very good for lactating mothers. Also, cumin is more beneficial if taken with honey.
Decreases Cognitive Disorders
Cumin rich in iron increases blood circulation to various organs including the brain and leads to an increased cognitive performance. It also aids in reducing the risk of cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Studies suggest that cumin is as impactful as any popular diet pill when it comes to reducing weight and fat.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Cumin is highly effective in improving all symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) such as cramps, nausea, bloating, gas, and digestive spasms.
Reduces Drug Dependence
The compounds present in cumin help reduce the addictive behavior and withdrawal symptoms of opioid narcotics.
Cumin stimulates the nervous system, resulting in sharper memory. It may also help treat Parkinson’s disease.
Uses of Cumin
For its distinctive flavor and fragrance, cumin as seeds, ground cumin, or cumin oil, is used in various ways;
- Culinary Uses: Cumin is traditionally used as a spice in Indian cooking, either as whole seeds or in powdered form. It is a major component in the preparation of curries, stews, soups and other food products.
- Personal Care Product: Derived from cumin seeds, cumin essential oil is used as a scent in cosmetics including creams, perfumes, and lotions.
- Flavoring Agent: It is used to add flavor to alcoholic beverages and desserts.
- Medicinal Uses: Cumin seeds are used to produce medicines that help in treating problems like diarrhea, colic, inflammation, bowel and muscle spasms, and gas.
- Aphrodisiac: When ground cumin is mixed with honey and pepper, it works as an aphrodisiac. This concoction is widely popular amongst Arabs.
Cumin Side Effects
Excess intake of cumin may result in severe side effects like:
- Hypoglycemia: Cumin may lower blood sugar levels in some people so diabetics should keep a check. Also, avoid use if undergoing a surgery as it may affect the blood sugar levels.
- Blood clotting: Cumin may slow blood clotting process, therefore, people with bleeding disorders should avoid its intake.
- Heartburn and liver damage: Excess intake of cumin may cause heartburn, kidney and liver damage due to the presence of highly volatile oil.
- Infertility and miscarriage: Cumin suppresses testosterone levels and may reduce fertility in men. Also, avoid use during pregnancy as it may trigger miscarriage.
Some other minor side effects of cumin include:
- Stomach pain