Cumin seeds also popularly called as jeera in India is one of the important spices in India and it occupies a very special place in Indian kitchens. It not only adds flavour to food, it also improves digestion and has wonderful medicinal uses and health benefits. Nowadays jeera water is popularly consumed for weight loss but it has other medicinal uses like aiding digestion, preventing bone loss, reducing cholesterol and it is also wonderful for hair and skin care too.
What Is Cumin Seed?
Cumin plant is an annual herb with a slender branched stem and white or pink flowers. The plant produces very aromatic seed like fruits commonly called as jeera or cumin. The seeds are oval shaped with ridges and are approximately 5 to 6 millimetre long. The yellowish brown colour seeds have a strong odor and you will never find an Indian kitchen without this amazing spice.
Cumin is native to Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Mediterranean Region. Now it is mainly grown in India, China, Turkey, Libya and Palestine. The essential oil got by steam distilling the seeds is called cumin essential oil and it also has wonderful medicinal uses.
Cumin Seed Cultivation and Harvesting:
The plant does not grow well in humid and heavy rainfall conditions. The plant is grown from seeds and needs well drained soil. The seeds are usually sown from October to November and harvested from February to March. The cumin plant grows up to 30 to 50 cm tall and is harvested by hand. The seeds are then separated, cleaned and then sold in the markets.
Cumin Seeds Botanical and Common Names:
The botanical name of the plant that produces cumin seeds is called Cuminum Cyminum. Jeera is the Hindi name and it is called Seeragam | Jeeragam in Tamil, Jeerakam in Malayalam, Jeelakara in Telugu, Jeerige in Kannada, Jeera in Bengali, Marathi and Oriya and Jira in Punjabi.
Cumin Seeds Nutritional Value:
100 grams of cumin seeds have 44 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of fat and 17 grams of protein. It is rich in vitamins like vitamin A, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin E and vitamin K. It is rich in minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorus potassium, sodium, manganese and calcium.
Cumin Seeds Chemical Composition:
Cumin seeds contains aldehyde fats, amino acids, flavonoids and glycosides and volatile oil. The essential oil contains cuminaldehyde as its chief component. Some of the important active compounds present in cumin are cuminaldehyde, linalool, b-pinene, 1,8-cineole, safranal and limonene.
Traditionally cumin seed water got by boiling cumin seeds in water is used to reduce body heat and it is also used for treating digestive problems. Cumin seed water is also consumed for reducing excesive weight. We also make cumin seed oil by infusing cumin seeds in sesame oil and use that oil for hot oil massage, this helps reduce body heat and prevents heat boils during peak summers. Traditionally cumin seeds was used for reducing inflammation, preventing gas and muscle spasms, indigestion diarrhoea and flatulence.
Cumin Seeds Benefits & Medicinal Uses:
1. Antimicrobial Properties
Both cumin seeds and cumin essential oil have antimicrobial properties and they are effective against different gram positive and gram negative bacterial strains along with different candida albicans isolates like staphylococcus epidermidis, S. Aureus, Bacillus Cereus, Clostridium Tetani, Escherichia Coli, Salmonella Typhi, Vibrio Cholerae, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, Asperigillus Niger, Saccharomyces Cerevisae, etc. Though they had constant inhibitory effect against most of the tested organisms, they were not effective against Pseudomonas spp.
2. Anti Diabetic Properties
In a randomised controlled study, subjects were divided into three groups, first group was given 100 mg of cumin capsule, the second group was given 50 mg and third group was placebo. After 8 weeks, people who consumed 50 and 100 mg of cumin seed extract saw noticeable decrease in insulin levels and in addition, it also helped reduce many of the complications associated with diabetes.
Regularly consuming cumin seeds helps improve many markers of diabetes like improvement in body weight, lowered blood urea level, reduced advanced glycation end products and reduced excretions of urea and creatinine. Cuminaldehyde and cuminol present in cumin seeds are responsible for its anti-diabetic properties.
3. Anticancer Properties
Cumin has powerful anticancer properties and studies show that it inhibits colon cancer and has a protective effect. Studies in rats have shown that cumin extract prevents fore stomach cancer, cervical cancer and liver cancer. This is due to the anti mutagenic, antiproliferative and antioxidant properties present in cumin seeds.
4. Antioxidant Properties
Consuming antioxidant rich ingredients is very important for us to fight of the free radicals the cause premature aging of our skin, hair and health. Cumin seeds has powerful antioxidant properties due to the presence of monoterpene alcohols, flavonoids and other polyphenolic compounds. Fully ripe cumin seeds are rich in polyphenols and tannins than unripe ones so they have higher amount of antioxidant properties than the unripe seeds.
5. Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic Properties
Both water and ethanolic extract of cumin seeds have powerful pain and inflammation reducing properties. If you are suffering from inflammation or pain, try consuming a cup of cumin seed water it will greatly help.
6. Aids Digestion
Traditionally cumin has been used for treating all sorts of digestive problems for years. We make cumin seed extract by boiling cumin seeds in water along with other spices for treating indigestion. Cumin extract is also excellent for treating irritable bowel syndrome, if you are suffering from it try consuming cumin seed water regularly. Cumin seeds also have anti diarrhoeal properties
7. Rich In Iron
Cumin seeds are very rich in iron, 100 grams of cumin seeds have around 66 mg of iron. Iron is an important component of haemoglobin which helps transport oxygen from the lungs to our body cells and it is also vital for energy production and metabolism. People who are suffering from anaemia will greatly benefit including cumin in their diet regularly. Iron also helps keep our immune system healthy.
8. Reduces Cholesterol Levels
Cumin seeds have powerful cholesterol lowering properties. This is due to to the high amounts of antioxidants present in cumin. Flavonoids and cuminaldehyde present in cumin are antioxidant substances that helps reduce high cholesterol levels.
9. Prevents Bone Loss
Phytoestrogens which are plant derived oestrogenic compounds prevents premenopausal bone loss. Cumin seed which is a phytoestrogen helps prevent bone loss in postmenopausal women. This is an another reason that we should include cumin seeds in our diet regularly.
10. Cumin Seeds Benefits For Weight loss
Cumin seed water has been used for reducing excessive weight for centuries. In a randomised clinical trial, 88 women were assigned into two groups. One group was given cumin powder for about three months twice daily along with curd and the second group was given only curd. After 3 months marked improvement in weight loss was seen in patients who took cumin powder with curd.
Cumin Seeds Dosage
Cumin seed is generally used as a spice in small quantities here in India. But to experience therapeutic properties we need higher dosages and from what I have researched, up to 1 gram has been proven to be safe. One of wildturmeric blog subscribers mentioned feeling giddy after consuming a tablespoon of cumin seeds so always practice caution.
How To Make Cumin Powder:
We can make cumin powder in two ways, one is by dry roasting cumin seed till it changes color and fragrant before powdering finely. The second method is by sun drying cumin seeds till crisp before powdering. The flavor will change depending on how cumin is powdered, the first method will give a strong flavor and is used to season chaat items and salads.
How To Buy & Store Cumin Seeds:
Usually cumin seeds can be adulterated with stone dust and grass seeds. The best way to find out if it is pure is by rubbing the cumin seeds between your fingers. There should not be any color change, if the hands turn black, then it is adulterated. To store, always sun dry before storing, it will increase the shelf life of cumin seeds a lot.
Cumin Seed Side Effects:
Cumin seed has low toxicity and as a spice, it generally agrees with everyone. But if consuming in therapeutic dosages, it will interact with diabetic medication as it has blood sugar lowering properties.
Cumin Seeds Benefits For Hair, Skin & Health:
1. Cumin Seed Water:
Take around 3 grams of cumin seeds and boil it along with water and consume. You can find the detailed recipe for it here. You can consume cumin water for treating indigestion and for reducing body heat.
2. Cumin & Carom Seed Water:
Boil 1/4 tsp of cumin seeds and 1/4 tsp of carom seed in a cup of water till the water is infused with the spices and consume. It will help treat flatulence and stomach pain very fast.
3. Cumin Powder:
Dry roast cumin seeds till fragrant and powder. Mix this with thick low fat curd and add salt, pepper, finely cut cucumber pieces, onion, 1/4 tomato and coriander leaves. This salad is very filling and can be included in a weight loss diet plan.
4. Cumin Seeds Benefits For Hair:
Traditionally, we always include cumin while preparing oil for oil bath. Hair oil made with cumin seeds help strengthen the hair, cool down excess heat and give a nice shine to the hair.
5. Cumin For Skin:
We can add cumin water to hair packs, it will help treat heat boils and rashes. To make a face pack, add cumin water to besan, turmeric powder and honey, make a paste and apply. Wait for it to dry and then wash it off.