Scientifically Proven Benefits of Cumin: For Weight Loss, Diabetes and More

The Miraculous Health Benefits and Uses of Cumin

Cumin is an aromatic spice with many health benefits that is used in Indian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern cooking. Cumin seeds are usually ground into a powder and added to dishes or taken as a supplement. Cumin supplements are full of antioxidants and can help to lose weight, control diabetes, improve your digestion, and boost your immune system.

Cumin spice is really good for you because it contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are good for your health. In fact, cumin is good to take if you have an iron deficiency, as a tablespoon of cumin seeds contains 22% of your daily iron needs.

You can also get the health benefits of cumin by making warm cumin water. A warming cup of cumin tea can help to soothe a sore throat, promote good digestive health, and help to fight inflammation.

In this article, you can find out about many scientific studies that have proven the many benefits of cumin.

What is Cumin?

Cumin is a plant that belongs to the parsley family. Cumin seeds are dried before being ground into cumin powder or extracting the oil to make cumin essential oil.

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) comes from countries in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, India, and China. Cumin seed is used to add seasoning and flavor to many savory dishes.

Cumin is called jeera in India and comino spice in Spanish.

The journal Chemicals & Biodiversity reports that cumin powder is also used for its medicinal properties. (1)

Cumin seeds look like small brown grains of rice that are approximately 5 mm in length.

It is important not to confuse cumin seeds with black cumin seeds (Nigella sativa seeds). Black cumin seeds also have important health benefits. However, in this article, I will look at the therapeutic properties of white cumin seeds.

Nutritional Value of Cumin

You can use cumin in cooking to add a delicious flavor and aroma to your food. Grinding up toasted cumin seeds and adding them to your favorite dishes also enhances the nutritional value of your food.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 1 tablespoon (6 grams) of whole cumin seeds contains 22 calories. (2)

6 grams of cumin seeds (approx. 1 tablespoon) also contains 0.6 g of fiber which is 3% of your daily recommended intake (RDI).

One of the biggest nutritional benefits of cumin is that it is a rich source of iron. For example, 1 oz. (28 g) of whole cumin seeds milled into a powder contains 18.6 mg of iron which meets your daily iron needs. (3)

One tablespoon of cumin seeds also contains 0.2 mg of manganese (10% RDI), 55 mg of calcium (6% RDI), and 22 mg of magnesium (5% RDI). Ground cumin also contains trace amounts of phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and copper.

Cumin spice also has vitamins A, C, E, and B-group vitamins.

You can also benefit from cumin seeds by drinking warm cumin tea. For example, infusing a teaspoon of cumin seeds in hot water can create cumin seed tea that contains digestive enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. (4)

Because there are so many beneficial minerals in cumin powder, you can even add some cumin to your favorite face mask for healthy-looking skin.

What is Cumin Good For? Proven Health Benefits of Cumin

Let’s look in more detail at why cumin powder (or jeera powder) can help to improve your health.

Cumin Seeds May Help You Lose Weight Faster

Cumin not only makes your metabolism work more quickly, but it also cuts down on your cravings.

A study published in the journal Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice was the first to reveal the potential cumin seeds have for dieting. Using this spice can help you lose weight quicker and influence the body’s fat profile in a positive way by reducing the levels of harmful lipids in the blood. (5)

Research on Cumin and Body Fat

Iranian scientists from the Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences included 88 women who were considered overweight or obese into their study. They randomly divided them into two groups.

  • One group ate 3 grams of cumin powder daily, mixed into 5 grams of yogurt.
  • The control group consumed yogurt too, but without any additions.
  • Both groups received dietary advice and reduced their daily caloric intake by 500 calories.

Cumin for Weight Loss: Research Results

Different body measurements and parameters were taken before the study and after 3 months of dieting.

Women who were eating cumin, lost 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms) more compared to those in the non-cumin group.

More impressively, the cumin group members decreased body fat percentage by 14.64% which is almost triple the 4.91% fat loss posted by the control group. Apparently due to the addition of the fat-burning spice.

The women in the treatment group also experienced reduced levels of fasting cholesterol, triglycerides (a type of fat associated with atherosclerosis, heart disease and diabetes) and LDL (bad) cholesterol, while their levels of HDL (good) cholesterol increased.

Furthermore, the women who took cumin had larger reductions in body mass index and waist circumference.

The authors of the study concluded that cumin powder can significantly boost the success of a weight reduction diet.

Another scientific research has also shown that cumin seed capsules have an anti-obesity effect. One clinical trial on 78 overweight adults found that taking 100 mg cumin essential oil capsule resulted in increased weight loss over an 8-week period. (6)

The clinical trial showed that cumin supplements were as effective as the anti-obesity drug Orlistat 120 mg.

Find out how daily walking can help boost your weight-loss efforts and get rid of belly fat.

How does Cumin Help you Lose Weight?

Cumin is rich in antioxidants and phytosterols. Phytosterols are natural substances of plant origin that are similar to cholesterol in their structure and function. They inhibit the absorption of harmful cholesterol in the digestive tract, which could be the explanation for their weight-reducing effect.

Previous clinical trials have shown that consumption of foods enriched with at least 0.8 grams of plant sterols or stanols lowers the levels of LDL cholesterol.

How to Consume Cumin for Weight Loss?

3 grams of cumin powder, the dose that was used in the study, comes to a little less than a teaspoon. If you find the mixture of yogurt and cumin slightly unappetizing, you can try other ways to incorporate the powerful spice into your diet:

1. Add ground cumin to roasted or sautéed veggies.

2. Use it when you make hummus or guacamole.

3. Make a cup of warming beverage by boiling cumin seeds in water and letting them steep for 10 minutes.

4. Sprinkle it over nuts or other healthy snacks.

5. Use it to spice your lentil soup.

6. Add it to plain brown rice to give it an exotic kick (you can also mix in dried apricots and almonds).

Cumin Supplements Can Help Manage Diabetes Symptoms

If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, eat cumin as it has hypoglycemic properties that help to reduce high blood glucose levels.

A study by researchers at Mysore University in India explored the potential anti-diabetic properties of cumin. In this study, published in 1998 in the journal “Nutrition Research,” the research team fed diabetes-induced rats a diet of 1.25% ground cumin for eight weeks with positive results. (7)

The rats experienced a reduction in hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar — a condition common in diabetics — and glucosuria, in which the urine contains too much glucose.

A review of scientific studies published in 2005 in the “International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition” confirmed that a number of spices, including cumin, may aid hyperglycemia. (8)

Another study found that the antioxidant properties of cumin help to alleviate diabetic complications. Cumin supplements helped to reduce blood glucose, inflammation, and infection rates in diabetic rats. (9)

Taking cumin along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. If you are taking diabetes medication, make sure to consult with your doctor first

Learn about other foods you can eat if you suffer from diabetes and want to control your blood glucose levels more efficiently.

Cumin Powder Promotes Healthy Digestion

Cumin is excellent for your digestive health because it helps to stimulate digestive enzymes.

Research from India discovered that spices such as cumin help to increase bile acids that assist in breaking down fats. Spices like cumin also help to increase digestive secretions and enzymes. (10)

Other studies have shown that combining cumin with other spices enhances digestion. Spicy cumin increased levels of the pancreatic enzyme lipase which is needed to break down fat in the blood. (11)

Consuming more cumin in your meals could also help to reduce excessive gas after eating. For example, one medical journal recommends the following cumin tea recipe: (12)

  1. Grind 10 grams of cumin seeds, 5 grams anise seeds, and 10 grams of fennel seeds.
  2. Put the cumin powder mixture in a cup and pour boiling water over, cover and leave for 20 minutes.
  3. Drink the warm cumin tea 30 minutes after your meal to get rid of flatulence.

Cumin can also benefit your digestive health if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). One trial involving 50 patients found that taking 20 drops of cumin oil daily helped to improve all symptoms of IBS. All patients reported less bloating, abdominal pain, and painful defecation. (13)

Taking cumin oil also helped to relieve IBS-related constipation. (13)

Cumin Can Help Prevent Iron Deficiency

The spice cumin can be good for raising levels of iron in your body.

The United States Department of Health reports that a tablespoon of cumin seeds ground into a powder contains nearly 4 mg of iron. (2)

According to the National Institutes of Health, a tablespoon of cumin seeds could give men as much as half of their daily iron needs which is 8 mg. Adult women need 18 mg of iron daily. (14)

The journal Nutrients reports that some types of cumin seed can have iron content as high as 1690 mg/kg. However, the average iron content of cumin seeds from 20 varieties was 310 mg/mg, which is actually more than spinach. (15)

Learn about the importance of taking vitamin C along with plant-based iron sources if you need to boost your iron levels naturally and how to choose the best iron supplement.

Cumin Seeds Have Antioxidants and Can Protect Your Immune System

One of the great reasons to consume ground cumin is that the spice can help you fight infections better.

Scientists say that antioxidant compounds from plant sources are important in helping to strengthen your immunity to protect against bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Antioxidants also help to control chronic inflammation. (16)

The journal Antioxidants reported that cumin contains high levels of flavanones (a type of plant-based antioxidant). (17)

Other studies have shown that one of the benefits of cumin essential oil is to reduce the effects of oxidative stress in the body. (18)

Find out what else you can do to boost your immune system.

Cumin Supplements May Help Lower Cholesterol

Taking cumin powder regularly can help to tackle the problem of high levels of cholesterol.

One randomized clinical trial involving 88 overweight women found that taking 3 g of cumin powder in yogurt twice daily helped to lower cholesterol. Cumin yogurt also helped to lower LDL (or, “bad” cholesterol) and increase HDL (or, “good” cholesterol). (19)

Another clinical trial on 72 adults found that taking high-dose cumin capsules with lime helped to lower cholesterol and had beneficial effects on weight management. (20)

Other studies have shown that the antioxidants in cumin help to significantly lower LDL cholesterol. (21)

Learn about an additional 10 natural ways to lower cholesterol and protect your heart.

Cumin Extract Has Antimicrobial Properties

Another of the benefits of taking cumin that it contains antibacterial and antifungal properties. The powerful antimicrobials in cumin mean that cumin can be good for preventing some food-borne illnesses.

The International Journal of Molecular Sciences reported that cumin extracts can effectively kill off E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and other harmful strains of bacteria. Other studies have shown that cumin extract has a powerful antifungal effect against Candida fungal strains. (22)

Another study found that the high phenolic content of cumin oil had an antioxidant activity and can be used for nutritional purposes. (23)

Cumin Seeds Have Anti-Inflammatory Activity

Using more cumin powder in your cooking or taking cumin capsules can also help to reduce inflammation in your body.

Many doctors are aware of the fact that chronic inflammation can lead to chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer. (24)

Research from 2015 found that cumin contains compounds that help to block certain inflammatory responses. The researchers suggested that cumin oil could be used to promote good health by reducing inflammation. (25)

Other studies have shown that cumin is among the herbs and spices that can protect the cells from DNA damage. (26)

Find out about other foods you can add to your diet to help reduce inflammation.

Cumin Seeds May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Cumin supplements may be good for you if you suffer from hypertension.

A trial on hypertensive rats found that consuming cumin helps to treat and manage high blood pressure. Taking 200 mg/kg cumin lowered blood pressure in a 9-week period. The researchers said that cumin has an anti-hypertensive effect on systolic blood pressure. (27)

Did you know that apple cider vinegar can also lower high blood pressure?

Cumin Could Help to Soothe Coughing

The relaxant effect of cumin seed extracts can help to reduce the severity of coughing.

Research from 2017 found that cumin has antitussive properties. This means that cumin has the ability to suppress a cough. In a trial involving guinea pigs, concentrated cumin extracts showed a similar effect to Codeine in reducing the frequency and severity of coughing. (28)

Learn about other home remedies that help to treat a dry cough and may help you sleep better if you have asthma.

Cumin Tea May Help Boost Your Brain Function

Cumin seeds have a relaxant effect on your mind and can help to enhance your memory.

Research on rats under stress found that cumin seed extract helped to improve the rats’ response under stress. Scientists noticed that cumin has memory-enhancing activities. (29)

Find out what other herbs and foods you can take if you want to improve your memory and boost your cognitive power.

Cumin Can Reduce Stress

Because cumin is good for your mind and has a relaxant effect, taking cumin supplements could help deal with stress better.

Studies have shown that cumin has anti-stress properties and can help offset stress-related disorders. (29)

Taking concentrated cumin supplements can also help you sleep better as sleepless nights are often the result of stress.

Learn about more natural remedies that can help you reduce stress levels.

Cumin Has Anticancer Properties

Extracts from cumin seeds are showing great potential in finding cures for cancer and preventing the spread of tumors.

Lab trials involving rodents have found that chemicals in cumin extracts can inhibit stomach cancer and uterine cervical cancer. (30)

Other studies have found that cumin has a protective effect on colon cancer because it promotes good digestion by increasing bile acids. Cumin seed extracts also helped to kill off cancerous liver cells. (31)

The book Herbal Medicine reported on other studies highlighting the chemoprotective effect of cumin and say that cumin seeds help to prevent liver damage caused by alcohol and that it has a detoxification activity. (32)

Cumin seed oil also helped to increase levels of glutathione-S-transferase which is a potent antioxidant against cancer. (32)

Of course, more research on the benefits of cumin in cancer treatment needs to be carried out.

How to Prepare Cumin Tea (Warm Cumin Water)

It is very easy to get a healthy dose of cumin every day by making your own delicious and aromatic cumin tea.

Increasing your fluid intake with beverages containing antioxidants will not only help keep you hydrated, but will also detoxify your body.

Here is how to make your own warm cumin water for its health benefits:

  1. Put 1-2 teaspoons of cumin seeds in a pan.
  2. Heat the pan up and roast the cumin seeds on a low flame for 5-10 seconds to help activate the oils in the seeds.
  3. Pour 8 fl. oz. (250 ml) of cold water into the pan.
  4. Bring to the boil, cover, and turn the heat down to let the cumin tea infuse for 5 minutes.
  5. Strain into a cup, add a spoon of raw honey and enjoy your delicious cumin drink.

Alternatively you can mix half a teaspoon of ground cumin with one cup of boiled water. Cover the container and let it steep for about five minutes.

What Is the Recommended Daily Intake of Cumin?

There is no standard dose for using cumin powder to benefit your health. Some studies have shown that taking 300 mg/kg body weight of concentrated cumin supplement can have various health benefits. (33)

Side Effects of Cumin

Are there any adverse effects of using cumin for its medicinal properties? Doctors say that cumin supplements are possibly safe when taking them in appropriate amounts for medical reasons.

However, there are some reported side effects of taking cumin in high doses over a long time. For example, trials on rats have shown that the long-term use of high-dose cumin supplements could affect male fertility and lower testosterone levels. (33)

It may not be safe for women to take concentrated cumin supplements if they are pregnant. One of the traditional uses of cumin was to induce abortions. (33) However, doctors say that cumin is safe to take during pregnancy when in doses usually found in food. (34)

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