Cumin are seeds of small plants which are grown in hot climates and flourish in sandy soil. These plants belong to the parsley family. The plants start to flower in June / July and the seeds are ready to be harvested after around 4 months of these plants being grown. These seeds vary from 3-6 mm in length and are striped with ridges. These seeds are hairy and brown. They are usually boat shaped and have tiny stalks attached to them. These seeds have a strong, warm and heavy spicy-sweet aroma. The aroma itself causes salivation. The flavor of these seeds are slightly bitter, powerful and with a sharp pungency.
These plants grow best in the Middle East, China, Egypt, North Africa, Americas, Morocco, India and in the countries around the Mediterrean sea.
Cumin has been used from ancient times in Greek and Egyptian cooking. The use of cumin in Indian cooking too is widespread. Cumin also found it’s way in European cooking. It initially was used as a substitute to pepper which was an extremely expensive spice. In Biblical times, cumin was used as a payment method for payment of tithes. Cumin seeds have been found even in the pyramids. The medicinal properties of cumin were known since ancient times.
Here are ten different benefits of cumin:
1.Healthy skin : Cumin contains Vitamin E in high doses. Vitamin E is beneficial for glowing and healthy skin. Cumin also contains properties of anti-fungal and disinfectants therefore infections of the skin are cured by the application of cumin paste. This applies to all kinds of skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis, boils, rashes and acne. Added to face packs, cumin powder treats all kinds of skin disorders.
2.Antioxidant : As mentioned earlier, cumin contains Vitamin E. This is beneficial to prevent ageing symptoms like wrinkles, spots on the skin, loose and sagging skins.
3.Body heat and itch : When bathed with water containing cumin seeds which have been boiled in it and then cooled, it is used to remove excess body heat and the anti bacterial properties help to cure itchniess and rashes.
4.Anaemia : Cumin seeds contain high quantities of iron. 100 grams of cumin contains more than 66 mg of iron. This exceeds the adult daily dietary requirement of iron by atleast five times. Haemoglobin which is used to transfer oxygenated blood to the body cells, consist mainly of iron. Therefore, cumin helps cure anaemia.
5.Pregnancy and Lactation : During pregnancy women suffer from anaemia. Due to high levels of iron in cumin, anaemia is stemmed. Therefore cumin is very helpful during pregnancy. Cumin also contains Thymol. Thymol is used for increasing the secretion of glands. Therefore, when lactating women eat cumin, the milk secretion increases. The effect is increased when cumin is mixed with honey. Cumin also contains high quantities of calcium which is most beneficial for lactating women, as calcium is one of the major constituents of milk.
6.Respiratory Ailments : As mentioned earlier, the essential oils in cumin contains disinfectants. These are useful to battle against the respiratory ailments like the common cold which is a viral infection. During respiratory ailments like asthma and bronchitis, excess mucus is formed. Cumin helps to dry this excess mucus. As cumin also contains Vitamin C, it helps increase the immunity of the body and fight infections.
7.Insominia : Cumin contains essential oils and vitamins. When the intake of vitamins especially Vitamin B complex is sufficient, it helps in inducing sound sleep. Therefore, the combination of vitamins and essential oils present in cumin, help in curing insomnia.
8.Piles : Piles are caused due to constipation. This coupled with infections and wounds in the lower alimentary tract gives rise to piles. Cumin contains dietary fibre. In addition to the fiber, cumin has antifungal, anti microbial and disinfectant properties. Cumin also contains cuminaldehyde and pyrazines. These act as laxatives. They also aid in digestion and strengthen the excretory system.
9.Anti-carcinogen : When tested in the laboratory, cumin showed properties of anti-carcinogen. It increases the detoxification of the liver and enzymes of the glands. It detoxifies the entire colon. In addition to this, the essential oils present in cumin have anti-carcinogenic properties. Hence cumin has cancer preventing properties.
10.Digestion : Cumin aids digestion. Even the aroma of cumin activates the salivary glands. Saliva is the first step of digestion. Thymol which is in cumin has the same effect on the bile and the glands which secrete acids and enzymes. These acids and enzymes aid in the digestion of food in the stomach as well as in the intestine. Cumin also helps in gas disorders and when ingested with warm water, it helps soothe stomach aches.
However, like all substances, cumin too must not be ingested in excess as it is known to cause excessive belching. Excessive amounts of ingestion could also lead to heavy menstruation of women. Cumin tends to lower the blood sugar levels when eaten in large quantities, therefore excess amounts must be ingested with care especially by diabetics who need to have their blood sugar regulated at all times.
However, it must be remembered, these side effects are only caused by the excessive intake of cumin. However, in moderate amounts, the benefits of cumin are manifold. Cumin is truly a wonder spice and is power packed with goodness.