The cumin is an herbaceous annual nature with special aromatic properties. Its scientific name is Cuminum cyminu and belongs to the Apiaceae family. The plant, whose origins seem to be Indian, develops no more than 30 cm in height and has white, vaulted flowers tending towards pink.
The cumin contains many antioxidant compounds that help the body to counteract the harmful effects of free radicals. In addition to this, antioxidants improve the feeling of well-being and the appearance of aging skin more slowly.
The fruit is an achene and therefore contains only one seed. It is precisely from cumin seeds that the famous spice is made. In recent years the plant has become the subject of various medical researches in order to verify its therapeutic properties.
- Chemical Composition
- Weight Loss
Most of the benefits attributed to cumin have to do with digestion, circulation and the immune system. In Sanskrit, cumin is known as Jira which is the most quoted word on the Bible and which means what helps digestion.
From discoveries that took place in various archaeological sites, it seems that cumin and its properties were already known to the populations who inhabited the land already 2.000 years before the coming of Christ.
|Chemical composition for 100 g of cumin seeds|
Source: USDA Database
Aminoacids: aspartic and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine, phenylalanine, histidine, leucine, lysine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan, isoleucine, valine and threonine.
The seeds are also an excellent source of flavonoids with antioxidant properties such as carotenes, lutein and zeaxanthin .
Cumin: Properties and Benefits
From early research it appears that cumin seeds may have anticancer properties. In a study conducted on a group of rats fed this spice, it was found that the animals were protected from colon cancer. ( 1 )
In another study where the properties of some popular herbs were assessed, the researchers did discovered that cumin and basil were the plants with the greatest anticancer effects. ( 2 )
The main recognized property of this spice is to bring benefits to the digestive process. For this purpose, drinking a herbal tea prepared with its seeds and those of fennel, after lunch, has digestive properties.
This virtue is mainly attributable to two compounds: the first is the cuminaldehyde which activates the salivary glands of the mouth thus facilitating the primary digestion of food. The second is thymol which stimulates the production of gastric and bile juices for the complete digestion of food.
Over the centuries traditional medicine has always recommended the use of its seeds to treat diarrhea. Now even modern medicine is going in this direction. A study conducted in rats examined the effects of a seed extract on some rats with diarrhea. The researchers concluded that the extract helped cure the symptoms of diarrhea. ( 3 )
The oil extracted from its seeds has always been used as a larvicidal and antiseptic agent. Studies suggest that cumin may also be effective against some antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. This explains why, for many centuries, this plant has been used as a food preservative. ( 4 )
The spice is also carminative, that is, it facilitates the elimination of the gases that form in the intestine and relieves the pain that can arise from them. In fact, thanks to this feature, cumin is included in the diet of those with aerophagia problems.
The spice has been used experimentally for the creation of a diabetes medicine. Studies have shown that this drug has successfully helped diabetic people manage their disease. ( 5 )
Studies have found that diabetic animals have also benefited from consuming the plant. Seed oil has been shown to have antiglycemic properties. ( 6 )
Thanks to the high content of fiber and the properties fungicidal and antibacterial properties, the cumin seems to bring benefits in terms of prevention concerning the hemorrhoids. One of the causes of this pathology is in fact constipation and wounds of the anal tract which can also be a consequence of constipation.
Studies confirm that thanks to its antioxidant properties the spice helps boost the immune system’s activity against pathogens. ( 7 )
Several studies have examined the ways in which this spice can aid in weight loss. Although further studies are needed to investigate the topic, the first results are promising. In one study, some obese women were fed a healthy diet and cumin powder. At the end of the tests, all the vital values of the participants showed clear improvements. ( 8 )
Another study on overweight men and women administering the spice resulted in an improvement in their weight. ( 9 )
It contains a good amount of iron and vitamin C which play an important role in strengthening the immune system. The vitamin C also has antioxidant properties that can bring benefits to the whole organism.
Iron instead, which is present in the amount of 66 mg per 100 grams (more than 5 times the daily need for iron for an adult), is the main component of hemoglobin in red blood cells.
It is the latter that transfers oxygen and iron oxide to the cells of the body whose deficiency causes anemia. For this reason cumin is a very suitable food for people who suffer from anemia. Studies suggest that the spice is very useful for the treatment of anemia, it enriches the blood with hemoglobin and also helps to transport oxygen to the body’s cells. ( 10 )
The skin also benefits from taking cumin . In fact, vitamin E has antioxidant properties and slows down the aging process of our cells, keeping the skin younger for longer.
The vitamin E is present in good quantity, together with the essential oils that have antibacterial and fungicidal, prevents infection of microbes and against skin fungi.
The benefits of this plant also extend to boils. The latter in fact represent the outlet for the elimination of toxic and foreign substances such as microbes. When boils appear, it means the presence of toxic substances in the body.
Studies show that thanks to the presence of Cuminaldehyde, regular use of cumin helps keep skin free of boils. In addition, thymol and phosphorus are also 2 detoxifying agents that help expel toxins from the body. ( 11 )
One of the popular remedies for acne is to apply a compress made from vinegar and ground cumin seeds to the skin.
Essential oils and caffeine have expectorant properties. They therefore dissolve the phlegm and mucus present in the respiratory tract, providing benefits in the case of asthma and bronchitis. A 2008 study informs us that thimoquinone, a compound found in seeds, reduces the inflammatory processes that cause asthma. The compound also acts as a bronchodilator. ( 12 )
Benefits to Memory
The consumption of seeds can stimulate the central nervous system and make it more effective. Research suggests that this property can positively affect memory and Parkinson’s treatment. ( 13 )
Cumin in the Kitchen
Thanks to its aromatic properties, it is a spice that, although not widely used in Italy, often appears among the ingredients of many traditional dishes from the countries of North Africa, the Middle East and India.
The cumin in India is one of the ingredients of the famous curry. In Mexico, however, it is among the ingredients of the famous avocado-based sauce known as guacamole.
In Morocco, cumin is used to flavor the famous couscous dish. In Eastern Europe, cumin is used to flavor meat dishes such as goulash.
In Spain and France, the seeds of cumin are used to flavor some breads.
The spice is considered safe and non-toxic. The recommended dose as a herbal supplement ranges from 300 to 600 mg per day. ( 14 ) However, there are some side effects that you need to be aware of if you want to take it safely.
The researchers found that cumin reduces levels of testosterone, which means that men may become less fertile when they consume it. In some cultures this spice has been used to cause abortion. For this reason, pregnant women or women who are attempting to get pregnant should keep this in mind. ( 15 )
Thanks to its aromatic properties, it is used to flavor some types of cheese. Its characteristic perfume is mainly due to a component of the essential oil which takes the name of cuminaldehyde. Once ingested, this substance activates the salivary glands of the mouth facilitating the primary digestion of food.
In ancient times, in Arab countries, it was used to prepare what was believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac.
Also in ancient times it was believed that cumin had the ability to keep pets away from home. This characteristic was later extended to human beings, in particular it was used between spouses to prevent the removal of one of the two.
The extracted oil has beneficial properties for the skin and for this reason it is used for the practice of massages.
There are other types of cumin in addition to this ( Cuminum cyminum ) and with which confusion is often made. For example there is the caraway , whose scientific name is Carum carvi, which has a less spicy taste and a less intense aroma.
Although there is nothing certain, many believe that his name derives from an Iranian city called Kerman. This city was once the main producer of this spice.
Maybe not Everyone Knows That
In the Bible it is mentioned several times, not only for the preparation of bread but also for its use as money.
In ancient Egypt, cumin, as well as for culinary uses, was used during the mummification process of the pharaohs.
Although in Italy it is a little used spice it is recommended to try it with cheeses and roasted meats.
There are no contraindications for this spice and there are no known cases of allergy.
Cumin: Properties and Benefits
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