Cumin seeds are obtained from cumin, a leafy plant found growing in the Mediterranean region, the Middle East, India, and China. The seeds are used for spicing food in many parts of the world. Both empirical and anecdotal research indicates that cumin has many health benefits hence the plant has become subject of medical research.
Antioxidants play an important role in the body by eradicating reactive free radicals responsible for causing cell damage. Cumin seeds contain two antioxidants, that is, apigen and luteolin that help to mop up reactive free radicals that cause degradation of skin cells and subsequent aging. This action helps the skin maintain a radiant, youthful look (Mnif & Aifa, 2015).
Accumulation of free radicals may also cause oxidation of fatty acids in the arteries resulting in clogging and subsequent heart disease (Singh et al., 2014).
In addition, the free radicals trigger oxidation that may cause inflammation in diabetes. Oxidation of DNA may also cause cancer in body cells (Singh et al., 2014).
Thus, regular intake of cumin may be helpful in preventing occurrence of the above mentioned scenarios.
Scientists have demonstrated that cumin seeds have ability to prevent multiplication of cancerous cells. In a study conducted by Rathore et al. (2013), cumin seeds were shown to exert anticarcinogenic activity against gastric squamous cell carcinomas.
Cumin has been shown to reduce the intensity of symptoms associated with diabetes. Research conducted using animal models and humans indicate that dietary cumin can significantly lower elevated levels of urea in the plasma (Taghizadeh et al., 2015).
Other studies have shown that cumin can be incorporated in herbal preparations used for treating diabetes (Karnick, 1991).
Routine use of cumin for food seasoning is said to help control blood sugar level in diabetic individuals (Bi et al, 2017).
According to scientists, cumin contains 15-45% crude fiber. Fiber is an important component of cell wall structure.
Researchers have shown that oil extracted from cumin is an effective agent against some strains of bacteria that are resistant to antiseptics. Cumin has also shown ability to prevent proliferation of bacteria that attack the immune system (Liu et al., 2017).
Cumin seeds have shown ability to reduce inflammation and pain in laboratory studies done using animal models. However, researchers are yet to identify the main component in cumin that is responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity (Wei et al., 2015).
Anecdotal studies have reported that a dietary supplement comprising cumin powder mixed with yoghurt can help lower the level of cholesterol in the blood.
A clinical study conducted by Taghizadeh et al. (2016) indicated that the level of blood cholesterol was significantly lowered in participants who consumed cumin during the study period.
Intake of cumin extract for one and a half months has been shown to reduce the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in participants (where LDL stands for low density lipoproteins) (Samani & Farrokhi, 2014).
Another study showed that daily intake of 3g of cumin for three months led to increased levels of “good” HDL cholesterol in subjects (where HDL stands for high density lipoproteins) (Zare et al., 2014).
Studies indicate that regular consumption of cumin may help one to lose weight. This property is attributed to the activity of thymoquinone present in cumin. This compound exhibits both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
In a study targeting overweight women, participants who consumed cumin powder and ate a healthy diet showed significant reduction in their weight and related statistics (Zare et al., 2014).
In another study targeting overweight men and women, subjects who consumed cumin supplements three times a day for eight weeks registered significant reduction in body weight. The same outcome was observed in subjects who consumed orlistat120, a popular weight management diet pill (Taghizadeh et al., 2015).
Researchers therefore agree that regular intake of cumin, supplemented with a proper diet and exercise can lead to gradual reduction in body weight.
Irritable bowel symptoms (IBS) is associated with bloating, cramps, digestive spasms, and nausea. Researchers have demonstrated that cumin extract can effectively relieve these symptoms (Agah et al., 2013).
Researchers have empirically shown that cumin is an effective remedy for the problem of indigestion. Specifically, cumin has been shown to rev up the process of digestion (Johri, 2011).
Cumin has also been shown to increase the activity of digestive enzymes, which essentially speeds up the process of digestion (Milan et al, 2008).
Cumin has also been shown to increase secretion of bile by liver cells. This in turn enhances digestion of fats in the gut through a process called emulsification (Johri, 2011).
Anecdotal research findings have shown that regular intake of cumin can boost your cognitive function by stimulating the central nervous system. This may lead to enhanced concentration and greater control over your limbs. This property of cumin is important especially for individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Cumin is rich in iron, a nutrient that plays an important role in haemoglobin formation. Haemoglobin is important in transporting oxygen to body tissues and organs.
Iron is also required for proper growth and development of the brain in children. In young women, cumin can play an important role in replacing iron lost through menstruation.
Iron deficiency leads to a condition known as anaemia. Therefore, taking a diet rich in cumin can help supply iron necessary for the above mentioned functions.
It has been scientifically proven that one teaspoon of ground cumin contains 1.4mg of iron.
Can be used for food preservation due to its antimicrobial activity against food pathogenic bacteria and fungi. This helps to reduce the risk of food-borne infections (Billing & Sherman, 1998).
A study conducted by Shetty et al. (1994) showed that cumin extract shows antifungal activity against Aspergillus and Penicillium species, both of which are pathogenic microbes. The extract also showed antifungal activity against pathogenic yeast species including Saccharomyces and Candida.
In addition, the extract showed antibacterial activity against food pathogenic bacteria called Escherichia coli.
Intake of cumin can also prevent food poisoning given its anti-aflatoxin property against toxin-producing fungi such as Aspergillus species.
Research conducted using animal models established that compounds present in cumin extract can reduce addictive behavior and withdrawal symptoms in mice (Khatibi et al., 2008). However, human-based studies are needed in this area before drawing concrete conclusions.
There are several ways one can use cumin for weight loss. These include consuming it in form of a drink, taking cumin supplements, or including it in the diet.
a) Taking cumin in form of a drink
You can make cumin drink (also called jeera water) by steeping two teaspoons of cumin seeds in 1.13 liters of boiling water and then straining out the seeds. The resultant drink is infused with healthy oils and extracts of cumin.
Jeera water is good in jump-starting your metabolism and helping to balance your blood sugar level. It may also help boost your body’s hydration. For best results, jeera water should be drank on an empty stomach, two times each day.
b) Taking cumin supplements
Oral cumin supplements containing black cumin seed oil or ground cumin seeds can be bought from a reliable source.
These supplements are then to be consumed with food once per day or as directed by the manufacturer through the package instructions.
Cumin supplements are said to play an important role in stabilizing your blood sugar.
c) Including cumin in the diet
Cumin can also be included in the diet in the form of chili powder, cumin seeds, or ground cumin. All these are said to boost body metabolism.
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