Cumin is a spice native to the Mediterranean region and southern Asia. It’s found in many different cuisines and has a distinctive aroma. When included in recipes, it gives food a subtle, warm, and earthy flavor. It’s found in the dried seeds of an herb called Cuminum cyminum, a flowering plant in the Parsley family. Cumin is also used as a digestive aid in many cultures. The antioxidant properties and other chemical compounds in this herb have many other health benefits.
Cumin is a notable digestion aid. It has carminative properties, meaning that it helps relieve digestive gas and bloating. When added to recipes, it can reduce painful indigestion. Its essential oils and the significant amount of magnesium and sodium help you digest your food, preventing uncomfortable reflux. The aroma of cumin’s essential oil, cuminaldehyde, activates the salivary glands in your mouth, increasing appetite and improving digestion. It also prompts the production of bile and other digestive enzymes throughout your gut, essential for proper digestion and extracting nutrients from your food.
Cumin is an excellent source of iron, which is essential to the production of red blood cells. A generous amount of these oxygen-carrying cells improves circulation in the body as well as helps boost your immune system, by bringing essential oxygen to all parts of your system. Cumin is also an excellent source of Vitamins A and C, both of which are required for a healthily functioning immune system. Vitamin C helps strengthen and stabilize your white blood cells, responsible for warding off bacterial and viral infections.
Treats asthma and bronchitis
Combining caffeine and essential oils with disinfectant properties help create an anti-congestive compound to treat symptoms of asthma and bronchitis. Furthermore, cumin has anti-inflammatory properties, helping to relax the trachea and smaller air passages in your lungs. This eases the tight feeling of asthma and improves bronchial distress. Cumin also acts as an expectorant – loosening mucus and phlegm in the airways and encouraging your body to dispel it. Reducing excess mucus and phlegm helps remove allergens and dust particles from your lungs, improving your breathing.
Help with insomnia
Although there is caffeine, a stimulant, present in cumin, there are also relaxing properties in its essential oils. These have a hypnotic and tranquilizing effect, which may lower stress levels and situational anxiety that lead to insomnia. Easing digestion by consuming cumin may also help with insomnia. As your gut functions more efficiently, your body may be better able to relax and fall asleep. Cumin is also known to ease the mind and the same cognitive disorders, resulting in a better night’s sleep.
Treats certain skin conditions
Cumin contains anti-fungal and disinfectant properties. This help prevents fungal and microbial infections of the skin, including tinea versicolor and eczema. Cumin is also a good source of Vitamin E, which helps your skin renew and remain healthy. Adding cumin to your diet may reduce the visibility of fine lines, age spots, and dull, lifeless skin. Another benefit of the Vitamin E found in cumin is its regenerative and healing properties. It can be used to treat acne, scars, and wrinkles, giving you a healthier and more youthful appearance.
Cumin has hypolipidemic properties, meaning that it can help control and reduce high levels of fat. Regular consumption of cumin may help reduce LDL (the “bad’ cholesterol) in your bloodstream. This improves your overall heart health and may reduce the risk of arterial blockage and heart attacks. The anti-inflammatory properties found in cumin also help your artery walls remain supple and strong. As your heart pumps blood, stiff and blocked arteries cause it to work harder, leading to strain. Reduced levels of cholesterol and easier passage of blood through your arteries leads to better cardiovascular health.
Manage metabolic syndrome
If you are treating metabolic syndrome or pre-diabetes with proper diet and exercise, adding cumin to your diet may help. Cumin seeds reduce the risk of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Low blood sugar leads to unhealthy cravings for simple carbohydrates and processed sugar, which can lead to the development of Type 2 Diabetes. Hypoglycemia may result in many symptoms including sweating, shakiness, weakness, clumsiness, trouble talking, confusion, loss of consciousness and seizures. Recent research indicates that cumin seeds may be useful to increase glucose tolerance, thus aiding your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar.
Reduce cancer risk
Cumin has antioxidant, chemopreventive, and anti-carcinogenic properties, useful in the prevention and treatment of some cancers. The antioxidant qualities help reduce the amount of free radical molecules in your body – rogue molecules that damage healthy cells and inhibit the growth and regeneration of new cells. This can lead to cancerous growths over time. The chemopreventative and anti-carcinogenic properties of cumin help your liver and kidneys remove toxins from your body. Vitamins A and C found in cumin have anti-carcinogenic properties. Vitamin A, especially, helps boost the immune system and alleviate metabolic stress.
Increase bone health and strength
Cumin is an excellent source of calcium, containing 56 milligrams of calcium per tablespoon (about 6 to 12 percent of your recommended daily allowance). Calcium is used for nerve transmission, blood clotting, hormone secretion, muscle contraction and reducing blood pressure. The proper amount of calcium also helps improve bone health and density, especially important for older women in the prevention and retardation of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is caused by small holes in the bones, weakening them and leading to painful growths and brittleness.
Incorporating Cumin into your diet
You may purchase cumin seeds at many grocers, health food stores, and online. Grinding the seeds into powder yourself may help retain many of the important health properties, versus purchasing pre-ground powder. You may add cumin powder to many soups, stews, and sauces, as well as tasty curries. For a crunchy texture and earthy flavor, taste your cumin seeds in the oven for a few minutes. These toasty seeds are delicious when added to granola or a smoothie, or as a topping for healthy Greek yogurt.