Cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum) are the old faithful in the world of home remedies for indigestion. They increase the secretion of carbohydrate- and protein-digesting enzymes. Fats are not far behind, either, since the seeds also increase the secretion of fat-digesting bile acids. With a rich iron reserve, coriander can raise the hemoglobin levels in the body and thereby, the energy levels. Iron is also essential in energy-producing chemical reactions in the body.
A member of the parsley family, the herb Cuminum cyminum yields oblong, longitudinally ridged, yellow-brown cumin seeds. Though most popular for their distinctive aroma, these seeds happen to be an excellent source of dietary fiber, iron, and monounsaturated fat.
And that may not even be the best part.
The volatile oil in the seeds is a wondrous pool of health-promoting chemicals – aldehydes (cuminaldehyde being the most researched), pinene, alpha-terpineol, and flavonoids (including apigenin).
Curious to know what they do for you?
Why It’s So Great
1. Aids in Digestion
A conversation about cumin seeds has to begin with digestion. For eons, the seeds have been traditionally used to relieve flatulence and bloating. While the mechanics of this are yet to be worked out by the scientific community, there is some insight into how they help with the actual digestion process.
- Encourages digestive enzymes in the pancreas
Cumin seeds enhance the activities of enzymes involved in carbohydrate and protein digestion, not so much in fat digestion. These include pancreatic amylase, trypsin, and chymotrypsin.
So if you’re looking for a digestive after a say a meat-heavy meal or a butter-laden dessert, reach out for your stash of roasted cumin seeds.
- Stimulates the liver to secrete bile rich in bile acids
Cumin seeds nudge the liver to produce more bile and bile acids. Bile acids are critical for fat digestion and absorption. Let us explain.
Ever heard of the saying “oil and water don’t mix”? Oil is fat. Imagine the hurdle your intestines face in trying to absorb fat from your food into your bloodstream, which is mostly water. Bile acids make this process easier by first breaking down fat into simpler, smaller molecules and then forming a protective bubble around them (micelles) so that they can navigate in the blood with ease.
With bile and your digestive enzymes doing their best, your body is better able to absorb nutrients from food. It’s no point eating healthy if you’re not digesting well.
2. Steadies Energy Levels
No, they’re not laden with sugar or caffeine. Cumin seeds are very clever about how they do this.
Like we mentioned at the start, these seeds are rich in iron. A teaspoonful has about 17.5% of the amount of iron you should be having in a day.
How does this help?
- Iron is a crucial component of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues. More iron means more hemoglobin production and more oxygen delivered to your tissues. This helps you feel more energetic.
Iron is also needed by enzymes directly involved in the body’s energy production.
Another way to look at it is from a digestion perspective. A lot of people feel sluggish and lethargic just because food has settled like lead in their stomach. With a little help from cumin, your digestion will be fired up and you’ll probably feel more up and about.
3. Positively Affects the Mind
There has been very little research on this, done early on; the focus seems to have shifted. However, one animal study did portray cumin’s beneficial influence on memory and stress, supporting its traditional use for the same.
- One explanation seems to be fundamental to most health-promoting herbs, that is of being a powerful antioxidant. What this means is that cumin seeds are capable of nullifying treacherous molecules called free radicals produced as a result of stress. The seeds were even seen to be a more effective antioxidant than vitamin C.
To experience any of the benefits we’ve just talked about, cumin seeds need to be a part of your diet. Note that they are different from black cumin, the seeds of an unrelated herb called Nigella sativa.
Definitely try using cumin seeds in your cooking. They have a spicy, somewhat bitter taste that lend themselves well to a range of cuisines. The bitterness can be gotten rid of by roasting them first. You could also directly add cumin powder.
Carry a small bottle of the roasted seeds in your bag and use them as an on-the-go mouth freshener/digestive. Very useful.
Another option is to drink cumin tea. Boil the seeds in water and steep for 8–10 minutes.