Spices, in general, are parts of plants other than leaves. These parts include seeds, bulb or rhizome of the plant. The word “spice” comes from a Latin word which means specific type. Herbs are not spices and originate from the leafy parts of the plants.
Cumin is mainly used as a spice in food. Essential oils are extracted from cumin and are used in making perfumes, drugs, food and liqueur. Cumin seeds may be used in making many medicines to cure a few digestive issues, like diarrhea, colic disease, and bowel syndrome. It may increase the flow of urine to relive bloating. It works as a diuretic agent. It may also increase sexual desire. Mainly it controls blood sugar level and may be helpful in the reduction of food borne diseases. It is also useful to improve immune system and fights against fungal and bacterial infections.
Where does Cumin Originate & What are Cumin Seeds : Cumin or Cuminum cyminum is a spice that belongs to Apiaceous family of plants. It has different names like Jeera, Zira,Ziran, Zeera, Jintan or Ziran. Leaves of cumin plant have leaflets having thread-like shape. The plant contains flowers that are pink or white. Cumin seeds look like seeds of anise and fennel visually. As compared to fennel and anise seeds, they have a dark color and smaller. Levels of dietary fiber content in cumin are high. Levels of the deposits that are spent after extraction of oil and other non-volatile components are also found in high levels.
According to Dr. Anju Sood, “It is essential to drink cumin water every day”.(1) Black cumin or Nigella sativa is a plant that belongs to the Ranunculaceae family of plants. It grows at the border area of the Mediterranean Sea. Use of the Black cumin seeds has been proved as a medicinal agent in many countries. Black cumin seeds are used to make black cumin pastry and other sweet dishes. These may be used as carminative agents. (2) Mostly known types of cumin are green and black varieties. Types of Black cumin include Nigella sativa & Bunium persicum (3)
How does Cumin taste?
Taste of cumin is little earthy and warm but it smells like a combination of bitterness and sweetness. It is found in powdered/ground form or as a whole seed. Powdered cumin is formed by drying, roasting and then grinding the cumin seeds. Whole Seeds tend to have a much stronger aroma. When it is blended with other spices, it enhances the overall taste of the recipe. When cumin seeds are roasted at medium heat, it increases its flavor. Ground cumin loses its taste day by day. To get a prefect flavor in our opinion, seeds of cumin must be toasted. If its ground, you may need to use adjust the amount of cumin used in your recipes. (4)
How Cumin Benefits Health?
Cumin could help with digestion if used in right proportion i.e. Cumin causes an increase in the release of bile from the Liver. Bile helps with digestion of fats and other nutrients in the Gastrointestinal Tract.
Cumin could help to control sugar level in diabetic patients. So it could be a helpful spice in the treatment of diabetes.
Cumin has been shown to control the cholesterol levels in Blood. Studies may have shown that cumin seeds decrease bad cholesterol levels (Low-Density Lipoproteins).
Cumin could be helpful with weight loss along with reducing fats. Certain studies have shown that cumin seeds could promote weight loss.
Cumin seeds may prevent Food-Borne diseases. After cumin is digested, it produces a component named, Megalomicin. This component may kill bacteria thus helpful as an antibiotic agent.
Cumin may also have been used as an anti-inflammatory agent. It contains certain components that decrease inflammation. (5)
Cumin Side effects
Cumin, when taken orally, in right amounts, should be safe. It is considered a non-toxic agent. Still, some precautions that must be considered while using cumin seeds include, in diabetic patients it can cause low blood sugar level if taken in large quantities. It can also worsen bleeding disorders. Certain studies may have reported that Cumin can cause a decrease in testosterone levels in males thereby inducing infertility.
Caraway Vs Cumin
Sometimes cumin is confused with Caraway, as both are same in appearance but both are different from each other. Both look similar but there could be a huge difference in flavor.
Mild & subtle w/ citrus notes
Light brown & rough
curries, sauces, spice blends
Whole or in-ground form
Popular in bread & cheeses
Licorice, woody and warm
Dark brown & smooth
Bread, curry, sauces, pickle
Anise, Fennel seeds
Mostly whole form
Root vegetable dishes
Cumin Nutrition Data(Per serving):
- 375g Calories per serving
- 22g Total Fat (28%)
- 1.5g Saturated fat (8%)
- 168mg Sodium (7%)
- 44g Total Carbohydrates (16%)
- 11g Dietary fiber (39%)
- 2.3g Sugar
- 18g Protein (36%)
- 0.00mcg Vitamin D (0%)
- 931.00mg Calcium (72%)
- 66.36mg Iron (369%)
- 1788mg Potassium (38%)
Amount per Serving
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contribute to Daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice. (6)
Good Cumin options to Buy
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2. Takruri HRH, Dameh MAF. Study of the nutritional value of black cumin seeds (Nigella sativaL). J Sci Food Agric. 1998;76(3):404–10.