Health Benefits of Cumin Seeds or Jeera
Origin, Distribution And General Information
Latin name: Cuminum cyminum
Cumin seeds are called Jeera in India.
I will be using these words interchangeably, but in essence, both are the same.
Cumin plant is native to Egypt, the East Mediterranean and India and has been cultivated in the Middle East and China since thousands of years. Cumin grows in climates having a long and hot temperature of around 30 deg C (86 deg F).
The dried seeds of cumin plant, that is, cumin or jeera is used mainly as a spice in whole or ground form. Jeera is used in cuisines of many cultures, like Mexican, Spanish, North African, Middle Eastern and Asian.
Cumin seeds are roasted, most of the time, before using in Indian cuisine.
Cumin seeds resemble caraway seeds since they belong to the same family, but their flavours are different, cumin being more pungent of the two.
The Bible has reference to cumin having been used in the seasoning of soups and bread.
The Egyptians used jeera both as a spice and as one of the ingredients used to mummify the Pharaohs.
Ayurvedic medicine uses cumin or jeera to treat various health disorders.
Jeera or cumin seeds are actually the dried fruits of the cumin plant and each fruit contains a single seed.
Varieties Of Cumin Seeds
The commonly available cumin or jeera is actually 'white cumin' whose colour varies from tan to dark brown.
The other variety is the black cumin, also called 'shah jeera' or 'Kala jeera' in India.
The black variety has a more delicate flavour and is quite expensive.
Black jeera is added to some North Indian meat recipes.
In the West, black cumin is called nigella and is obtained from 2 different plants:
- Bunium persicum
- Nigella sativa
In India, the seed obtained from the plant Carum carvi is called black cumin, while in the West black cumin is the from the seed of the plant Nigella sativa.
I may point out here that the black cumin obtained from Nigella sativa is called Kalonji in India. Read about the health benefits of Kalonji in my linked hub. It is also a spice albeit a bit differently.
Uses Of Cumin Seeds
Jeera is used to season and spice many dishes using it ground in many cases and fry roasted in others.
It is used to flavour soups, stews, grills, meats and vegetables. Jeera rice is a very common food preparation in India. Dals and legumes are tempered with fry toasted jeera seeds
Worldwide, cumin is used in foods, beverages, liquors, medicines, toiletries and perfumeries.
Moroccan, Asian, Middle Eastern cuisines use jeera extensively.
Cumin is used in Dutch cheese like Leyden cheese and German, Munster cheese.
Traditional French bread use cumin. In German, Kummel liquor, cumin and caraway are used for imparting flavour.
Portuguese sausages are flavoured with cumin.
In India, roasted and ground cumin seeds are added to buttermilk to improve digestion and enhance flavour. Ground cumin is also used as a daily spice in cooking various Indian dishes. One such dish, potato & cumin curry, prepared with potatoes and whole cumin seeds, is shown in the video below.
Jeera Aloo Sabzi (Potato Cumin Curry)
How To Make Cumin Seed Powder
Dry roast the jeera seeds in a hot non-stick pan till they release their aroma. Leave them to cool and then grind finely.
Cumin Or Cumin Powder? Which is Better
- Powdered or ground cumin loses flavour quickly and has half the shelf life of cumin seeds.
- Ground cumin loses flavour and colour- the finer the grind, the faster the loss, in presence of heat and sunlight than cumin seeds.
- Ground cumin has more flavouring power than cumin seeds since grinding exposes more of the volatile oils.
- 1 tsp of ground cumin has about the same nutritional value as 1 tbsp of cumin seed.
- Ground cumin stays fresh for about 6 months while the whole seed keeps good for about a year.
Cumin oil is obtained from cumin seeds. It is a hot,pungent, spicy and penetrative smelling oil. The oil is extracted by steam distillation of the mature seeds.
Cumin oil mainly contains cuminic aldehyde, cymene, dipentene, limonene, phellandrene and pinene.
It also contains numerous phytochemicals, carotenes, zeaxanthin and lutein.
Cumin oil has antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, bactericidal, antitoxic, nervine stimulating and tonic properties.
Uses Of Cumin Oil
Since cumin oil is warming it relieves muscular aches, pains and osteoarthritis. It corrects digestive problems like colic, indigestion, dyspepsia, gas and bloating.
Since it is a nervine tonic and stimulant, it benefits in headaches, migraine, and nervous exhaustion.
Nutrition In Cumin
Cumin or jeera is an excellent source of iron, a very good source of manganese and a good source of calcium, phosphorus, copper and magnesium.
1 tsp of cumin seed (2.1 gms) provides 8 calories, 0.2 gm fibre and less than 1% carbohydrates.
1 tbsp cumin seed provides 23 calories.
Nutrients and Their Levels In Cumin Seed
Cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum),
Nutritional value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Percentage of RDA
Health Benefits Of Cumin
- Cumin improves the appetite, benefits the digestive system in various digestive disorders like flatulence, indigestion, dyspepsia, diarrhoea etc.
- Cumin increases mother's milk and reduces pregnancy-associated nausea.
- Jeera is a stimulant helping in secretion of pancreatic enzymes needed to absorb nutrients from food.
- It strengthens the liver's detoxification power.
- Shows antiseptic properties thereby toning down the symptoms of cold, sore throat and relieves boils.
- It increases body heat, improves metabolism and is a tonic.
- Jeera has prevented tumour growth in stomach and liver in laboratory studies on animals and may provide anti-cancer benefits in humans.
- Jeera has a free-radical destroying ability. A poultice made of cumin relieves breast swelling.
- Cumin is carminative and anti spasmodic.
- Cumin or jeera corrects and balances the tri doshas in the body & makes it healthy.
Uses Of Cumin In Specific Health Conditions
In Bad Breath
Eat cumin after roasting for getting rid of bad breath.
In Bleeding Piles
Take 1 tsp of cumin, aniseed and coriander seeds. Add 200 ml of water and boil the seeds till about 100 ml water remains. Add 1 tsp desi ghee. Drink morning and evening. It stops bleeding. It is very beneficial in bleeding piles in pregnant women.
Take cumin seeds and mishri (candy sugar), in equal quantities. Grind both together. Take 1 tsp of this with water 3 times a day.
Also, make a paste of ground cumin with water and apply. This helps to remove the swelling and pain.
In Painful Piles
Take 1 tsp jeera and 1/4 th tsp black peppercorns. Grind them. Add 30 ml honey to this and mix. 1 tsp of this mixture to be licked 3 times a day for relief.
Chronic Low-Level Fever, Intermittent Fever, Weakness during Fever, Diseases Of Women And To Increase Breast Milk
Grind cumin seeds. Add an equal quantity of jaggery and make pea-sized pills. Chew 2 pills 3 times a day and drink water after this.
It increases breast milk, reduces swelling of the uterus and vagina, controls leucorrhoea, the above mentioned febrile conditions and strengthens the uterus post-delivery.
Grind 1 tsp cumin seeds. Add 3 tsp jaggery and make 3 pills out of this. Just before the time fever normally comes, take 1 pill at a time at hourly intervals. Repeat this process for some days.
For Old Fevers
Take 1 gm ground cumin. Add the same quantity of jaggery. This is one dose. Take 3 times a day for some days.
- Take equal quantities cumin, dry ginger, long pepper and black peppercorns. Grind all of them together. Take 1 tsp of this after meals with water. It digests food faster.
- Boil 2 tsp cumin seeds in 250 ml water. Cool & strain. Take this 3 times a day in equally divided doses.
In Diarrhoea And Loose Motions
Roast cumin seeds and grind. Take 1/4 tsp if this with 1/2 tsp honey 4 times a day.
After meals take buttermilk to which roasted and ground cumin seeds and black salt have been added.
For Face Marks
Boil cumin seeds. Wash face with this water to clear the marks.
In Swollen & Painful Gums
Take roasted cumin and rock salt. Grind & sieve. Massage the gums with this and throw out the saliva that is formed.
In Itching & Body Heat
To bathwater add cumin seeds and boil. Cool and take bath with this water.
In Itching, Boils And Other Skin Diseases
Grind jeera seeds and mix hot water to make a paste. Apply this paste on the affected area.
In Renal Stone, Stoppage Of Urine And Swelling
Grind equal quantities of cumin seeds and sugar. Take 1 tsp of this with water 3 times a day.
In Gas, Stomachache, Excessive Burping, Indigestion, Colitis And Conjunctivitis
Roast cumin seeds and grind. Take 1 tsp of this with 1 tsp honey after meals daily.
Cumin is beneficial in stomach diseases.
For Those Who Have Regular Stomach Pain
Take cumin seeds with sugar after meals.
For Knots In Breasts Or Boils In Nursing Mothers
Make a paste of ground cumin seeds with water and apply on the affected breast.
For Nausea & Vomiting In Pregnancy
Juice 4 lemons. Strain the juice. Add 50 gms ground rock salt and mix well. Then add 125 gms whole cumin seeds to this and keep them soaked the entire lemon juice dries up and the cumin seeds too, dry up. Fill the dry cumin seeds in a bottle.
Chew 1/2 tsp of these cumin seeds, 3 times a day.
This stops nausea & vomiting in pregnancy.
To Increase Mother's Milk
Roast 125 gms cumin seeds in desi ghee. Add 125 gms ground candy sugar. to this. Consume 1 tsp of this mixture everyday in the morning and at night with milk.
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The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or embarking on a new health regime.
Using Cumin Seeds In Indian Cooking
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly