Health Benefits of Cumin Seeds
Cumin adds aroma to your food and fitness to your health.
Spices As Antioxidants
Most fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which protect body's cells from oxidative free radical damage that cause of age-related diseases. The free radicals are generated when the nutrients in the food gets metabolized by mitochondria in the cells to produce energy for the body's needs. The by-products of these chemical reactions are 'reactive oxygen species' — oxygen ions and peroxides — which are short of electrons in their outermost orbits. These are called free radicals and cause damage to the body by stealing electrons from various tissues. Antioxidants in food donate electrons to the free radicals, thereby converting free radicals to harmless waste products that are eliminated from the body before any damage is done to the body.
The spices we use in cooking such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger and turmeric, and herbs such as basil, cilantro and parsley contain phytonutrients that are better source of antioxidants than even the fruits and vegetables.
One notable spice is cumin, which is very widely used in Asian and Mediterranean and Mexican cooking. Spices also contain a particularly wide variety of antioxidants as well, making them the top antioxidant foods. Since antioxidants work synergistically, getting the widest variety of antioxidants is beneficial.
How To Use Cumin
You can obtain cumin as a seed or as a powder in all Asian shops. Cumin combines well with a wide range of other spices, including turmeric, ground fennel, ground coriander, ground dry ginger and cinnamon.
You can dry-roast cumin and grind it to a powder. Both sautéing and roasting make the aroma and flavor of cumin come alive. You can sautée cumin seeds in oil and add it to soups. In India, people drink butter milk or "lassi" which is made by blending yogurt and water with ground, dry-roasted cumin and salt. This drink is very cooling in summer and is great for digestion round the year.
Sprinkle ground, dry-roasted cumin on fresh yogurt or on salad dressings. You may combine cumin with minced ginger, lemon juice, salt and black pepper to make a dressing for a warm salad of cooked white beans or lightly steamed shredded carrots. Sautée cumin seeds in oil along with other vegetables for making a tasty soup. Typical Indian lentil and legume soups ('dals') are made this way.
Health Benefits of Cumin
- The health benefits of Cumin, whose scientific name is Cuminum cyminum, have been known for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, cumin was not only used as a culinary spice, it was also an ingredient used to mummify pharaohs. Cumins belong to the same family as caraway, parsley and dill belong to the same plant family (Umbelliferae).
- Cumin prevents digestive disorders by stimulating the secretion of bile acids and pancreatic enzymes that aid the digestive process. It acts like a laxative and helps in detoxification of the body. Pancreatic enzymes are compounds necessary for good nutrient assimilation.
- Cumin also helps in treating respiratory disorders. It makes an effective decongestive for people suffering from respiratory problem, including asthma and bronchitis.
- Cumin seeds are an excellent source of iron, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of calcium and magnesium. Iron is particularly important for menstruating/pregnant/lactating women, growing children and adolescents. Cumin is a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese and vitamin A.
- Cumin also helps to enhance immunity. With its abundance of vitamin C, vitamin A and essential oils, cumin increases your ability to fight infections. Cumin also contains dietary fiber and has stimulating, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.
- Cumin seeds may also have anti-carcinogenic properties. In one study, cumin was shown to protect laboratory animals from developing stomach or liver tumors.
- Cumin seeds have been proved to have hypoglycemic properties and can reduce glucose levels.
- Cumin seeds, being rich in calcium, are useful for preventing osteoporosis in menopausal women. They also increase milk production in lactating mothers.
The cumin referred here is different from black cumin whose botanical name is Nigella sativa. Black cumin has many medicinal uses, which will be discussed in another article.
Home Remedies Using Cumin
- Suffering from indigestion, heartburn, ulcers, diarrhoea and flatulence? Drink 2-3 times water that has been boiled with one teaspoon of cumin seeds. For added benefit, you can add fennel seeds and coriander seeds to the water along with cumin. Strain out the spices and pour water into a thermos and sip throughout the day. This is also useful for pregant women who experience morning sickness.
- For a good sleep at night, simply mix one teaspoon of cumin powder and the pulp of a ripe banana and eat before going to bed.
- Treat a cough with tea made from cumin seeds and coarsely powdered black pepper. Cumin is a natural antiseptic and will help soothe a scratchy throat.
- Cumin can be used to treat common cold and sore throat. Boil cumin seeds and some dry ginger to soothe throat irritation.
- Roast cumin without oil till it warm. Grind this to a fine powder along with rock salt. Massage gums with this powder. This helps to prevent bleeding from gums and strengthens them.
- Mix a spoon of ground roasted cumin seeds ,½ spoon of fresh ginger juice and a pinch of salt in a glass of butter milk. Frequent consumption of this butter milk helps to relieve piles and soothes inflamed intestine.
Optionally, you can steep cumin seeds overnight in water. This lightly flavored water is great as a digestive that can be used every day. Of course, make them fresh every time.