Cumin isn’t just flavorful AF. It also has some pretty rad health benefits, mainly due to its antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties. Here are the spicy deets.
Top benefits of cumin
Cumin seeds come from the fruit of the Cuminum cyminum L. plant. Here are some potential perks:
- boosts memory
- aids weight loss
- contains antioxidants
- anticancer properties
- could lower cholesterol
- can improves IBS symptoms
- helps control blood sugar
- anti-inflammatory effects
- fights parasites and bacteria
Some of cumin’s health benefits are proven while others are more anecdotal. Here’s the scoop.
Supports weight loss
Cumin might help you shed some pounds, if that’s your goal. A 2015 study found that cumin supplements had the same weight loss impact as a popular diet pill.
In another study, female participants who desired to lose weight were given 3 grams (g) of cumin powder (just over a teaspoon) every day in addition to a healthy diet. All showed improvements in triglycerides, BMI, and weight at the end of the 3 months.
Promotes healthy hair
Cumin might give new life to your luscious locks.
Lots of folks use it to reduce baldness and improve shine. TBH, there’s no research to support this, but it can’t hurt to try.
A DIY cumin hair treatment
Here’s how to boost your hair’s shine using cumin:
- Boil 2 tablespoons of whole cumin seeds in 1 cup of coconut or olive oil.
- Let it cool.
- Massage it into your scalp.
- Leave it on for 20 minutes.
- Repeat 2 to 3 times a week.
Cumin contains antioxidants that may pump up the volume on your immune system. A 2016 study on rats with diabetes found that cumin bumped up their glucose metabolism and immune system.
While rats are definitely not humans, cumin may well support immune health.
Possible cancer prevention powers
Some research on animals suggest cumin can keep cancer cells from multiplying. A 2003 study found that cumin protected rats from colon cancer.
Another (pretty early) study on rats discovered that cumin decrease their risk of cancer. This is no guarantee that researchers would see the same effect in humans, though. And more modern studies should take place to confirm this possible benefit of cumin.
Cumin can help you with your poop probs. A test tube study found that it may enhance your digestive enzyme activity which can improve digestion.
It also increases your bile output which helps you process certain nutrients and fats.
More research on humans is needed to prove the link between cumin and stress relief, but some studies on animals have had positive outcomes. A 2011 study found that cumin extract lowered signs of stress in rats.
Cumin stimulates the central nervous system which might boost your memory. Research on rats showed that cumin extract increased the animals’ memory and gave them a faster recall.
But again, more research on humans is needed to prove this.
Blood sugar control
Cumin is a hypoglycemic agent, meaning it might help control blood sugar.
One clinical study showed that a cumin supplement improved early indicators of diabetes in folks who are overweight better than a placebo.
Helps counter pathogens
Cumin is a natural antiseptic and larvicide (it can kill baby bugs). This might be why it’s been used as a food preservative for centuries.
More good news: Research shows that cumin essential can kill bad bacteria that could harm your immune system. However, the jury’s out on whether this also applies to ground cumin.
There are a few compounds in cumin that might have anti-inflammatory effects. But the seeds themselves helped to reduce pain and inflammation in lab rats.
Cumin can keep your cholesterol levels in check. One study found that LDL levels decreased by nearly 10 percent in patients who took cumin extract over the course of 6 weeks. However, this study didn’t use a control group, so it’s not the greatest of evidence.
In another study, peeps who took 75 milligrams (mg) of cumin twice on the daily for 8 weeks had decreased levels of blood triglycerides.
PSA: There hasn’t been much research on cumin as a seasoning in relation to cholesterol levels.
Improves IBS symptoms
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the pits. Thankfully, cumin might help with symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, bloating, or cramps.
One study of 57 folks with IBS found that their IBS side effects improved after taking a concentrated cumin supplement for 2 weeks.
However, this study used cumin essential oil and also didn’t use a control group. Higher quality studies will help future researchers better confirm the possible health effects of cumin.
Even in larger doses, cumin is generally considered safe. The typical herbal supplement dose is 300 to 600 mg a day. But there are some potential side effects to look out for.
- trigger a miscarriage
- cause an allergic reaction (but this is rare)
FYI: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor all supplements for purity or quality. Def look out for top-notch products.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one teaspoon of whole cumin seeds provides:
- 7.88 calories
- 0.47 g of fat
- 0.93 g of carbs
- 0.37 g of protein
It also has:
- 1.39 mg of iron
- 19.6 mg of calcium
- 7.69 mg of magnesium
Reminder: Cumin also has antioxidants which boost its health benefits.
You can add cumin to loads of recipes. It tastes great in:
- grain salads
But if you want to take your cumin lovin’ to the next level, here are five fab recipes where the spice is the star of the show.
- Skinny Taste’s cilantro lime shrimp. This simple shrimp dish packs a heap of flavor. Pro tip: Serve it over a bowl of mixed greens and sliced avocado.
- Food 52’s steam roasted carrots with cumin. It’s packed with vitamin C and works well as a side dish or on its own.
- The Girl Who Ate Everything’s skinny cumin steak with chimichurri sauce. All of the flavors are *chefs kiss* but cumin is def the standout.
- Food & Wine’s cumin baked chicken thighs. Tender and tasty, these chicken thighs go great with basmati rice and mixed salad.
- New York Times Cooking’s cumin-flavored salt. We won’t judge you if you sprinkle it on everything.
Cumin is a spice that packs a healthy punch. In addition to being total yums, it can bolster your immune system, may reduce inflammation, control your blood sugar, and boost your memory.
Just remember, it’s not a cure-all. And most of the studies on cumin use non-human animal subjects, doses that are way higher than you’d usually get in a sprinkle of cumin, and non-dietary formulations of cumin, like essential oils.
Talk to your doctor before introducing a new supplement to your diet.