A Culinary Must-Have: The Health Benefits of Cumin

Mehak Shah

June 27, 2022

The term ‘Cumin’ is from the Latin Cuminum, from the Greek term ‘Kyminon.’ cumin is famous with a variety of names in several languages, including kū míng (Chinese), jeera (Hindi), Cumino (Italian), Comino (Spanish), Cumin (French), Kamoun (Arabic), and kreuzkümmel (German). It is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, also related to parsley.

Cumin is an annual herbaceous plant that grows to approximately 1-2 feet tall and has slender branching stems and lace-like blooms. Cumin is ready to harvest after three to four months when the blossoms have matured into seeds and have grown dry and brittle. Typically, people gather cumin seeds by hand.

It was first grown in Iran and the Mediterranean region. Cumin was first mentioned 5,000 years ago as a mummification component for Egyptian pharaohs’ bodies. Cumin was kept at the meal table in its container by the ancient Greeks. Since times immemorial, people have considered cumin to have originated in Western Asia and farmed since biblical times.

Today, India and Iran are the world’s largest producers of cumin. In addition, Argentina, Morocco, Ukraine, Egypt, Lebanon, Malta, Mexico, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Central America, and Central Asia are known for cumins farming. 

Each spice has a distinct texture, aroma, and distinct enhancing properties that bring out the best in the ingredients and make a cuisine appetising. India, known as the Spice Kingdom, has a long history of commerce and trade with the ancient civilisations of Rome and China for Cumin. Because of its aroma, texture, flavour, and medicinal value, cumin is now one of the most sought-after seeds in the world.

Nutritional Facts of Cumin

As per USDA, 100g of cumin will consist of the following nutritional properties:

  • Energy: 500 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 50g
  • Calcium: 1000mg
  • Iron: 54mg
  • Protein: 0g
  • Total lipid fat: 0g

Potential Advantages of Cumin

  • It improves our memory.
  • It facilitates weight loss when consumed empty stomach with warm water.
  • It includes some essential antioxidants for the human body.
  • It consists of some anticancer characteristics.
  • It may help reduce your cholesterol.
  • It can help with IBS symptoms, a very prevalent issue nowadays.
  • It aids with blood sugar control among diabetic patients.
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties, beneficial for you.
  • Cumin helps eliminate parasites and germs.

Health Benefits of Cumin

Weight Loss

Cumin may be advantageous to those attempting to reduce weight. A 2015 study involving overweight persons compared the weight loss effects of cumin to those of a weight loss medicine and a placebo. According to the study, the cumin and weight loss medication groups lost significant weight after eight weeks. The participant’s insulin levels, too, were reduced in the cumin group. 

Studies show that female participants who want to lose weight should take 3 grams of cumin powder daily and have a nutritious diet. At the end of the three months, all demonstrated improvements in triglycerides, BMI, and weight.

Best Ways to Use Cumin for Weight Loss

Cumin Powder

Boil water in a cup, add cumin powder to it and drink it after your meals.

Cumin Seeds

Soak the cumin seeds in water for five to six hours, then add the seeds to boiling water and reheat for some time. You can use lemon to make the taste better. It would help if you consumed this drink on an empty stomach.

Cumin Powder and Yoghurt

Add cumin powder to yoghurt and have it after your meals.

Regulates Sugar Levels

Regularly consuming cumin seeds can help you lower your blood sugar levels. Cumin increases insulin production in the body, which keeps blood glucose levels under control. Studies suggest that Crude ethanol extract from cumin seeds may be used as an alternative treatment for diabetes.


The aforementioned study of overweight and obese women discovered that taking 3 g of cumin powder daily resulted in lower total cholesterol levels, low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol, and triglycerides. Those who drank the cumin powder also exhibited greater HDL levels or “good” cholesterol.

Diabetes Management

Cumin may aid in the management of diabetic symptoms and consequences. For example, one study discovered that eating cumin can help decrease urea in the blood. Urea is an organic molecule that may interfere with how your body responds to insulin. In animal experiments, experts have demonstrated that cumin powder/seeds help reduce the sugar level. However, further research is still needed.

Improves Digestive Enzymatic Activity

Some studies have demonstrated how cumin aids various digestive disorders and digestive enzymatic activities. For example, cumin extracts significantly reduced irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms such as stomach ache, bloating, and frequent and uncontrolled urination. In addition, people have been using cumin for a long time as a traditional medication for diarrhoea.

Cumin Caters to Body’s Nutritional Needs

The cumin includes flavonoids, which act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants can help neutralise free radicals, also known as cytokinins which cause cell damage. It may also lead to cancer if not taken care of initially.

Cumin is also an excellent source of:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A

A spoonful of cumin seeds will supply some essential vitamins as well. For example, it contains vitamin A (2% of your RDA), vitamin C (1%), riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6 (1% each). You’ll also get 1.5 grams of choline. In addition, calcium (56 mg), iron (4 mg), magnesium (22 mg), phosphorus (30 mg), potassium (107 mg), sodium (10 mg), and trace levels of zinc, copper, and manganese are all found in cumin.

Preparation of the Seeds


The seeds are gathered approximately four months after sowing when the plant begins to wither, and the seeds change colour from dark green to brown-yellow. The entire plant is dug up and removed from the ground. The seed is tiny, boat-shaped, and has nine ridges running its length.


One needs to dry the plants in partial sunlight since mechanised drying is used to improve the quality of the product and reduce post-harvest losses.

Threshing and Winnowing Seed Spices

Threshing dried plants, extract cumin seeds with sticks. Next, they dry the seeds to a moisture level of 10% by laying them on mats or trays in the sun or using a drier if the conditions are too damp. A traditional winnowing basket comes in handy to remove dirt, dust, leaves, and twigs from the dried seeds.


To grind, they employ a variety of mechanisms for specialised purposes. Grinding is also a way to increase the value of a product. It is not, however, advisable to grind spices. Spices are more susceptible to deterioration after grinding. In addition, the flavour and fragrance components are unstable and will quickly vanish from ground items. Cumin seeds can be purchased as whole seeds or in powdered form.


It includes a dust collector to provide dust-free operation and no loss of ground powder.

Packaging and Storage of Cumin

Dried cumin seed powder is stored in airtight containers away from direct sunlight. The powdered seeds need to be regularly inspected for deterioration or moisture symptoms. They should be re-dried to a moisture level of 10% if they have absorbed moisture.

Possible Side Effects of Cumin


Cumin seeds are well-known for their gas-relieving effects. They may, however, cause heartburn, a relatively frequent digestive ailment. However, this is because cumin seeds aid in the expulsion of more gas into the gastrointestinal tract, causing heartburn.

Liver Damage

Cumin seed oil is highly volatile and can potentially cause liver or renal damage. Swallowing excessive amounts of this seed can cause this as well. Therefore, it is advisable to limit ingestion to moderate quantities.

Cumin is Aphrodisiac

Cumin is known to have aphrodisiac qualities; thus, one should use it with caution. Cumin seed side effects include mental clouding, tiredness, and nausea, which can occur in the body by excessive ingestion.

Sugar Levels

Cumin may adversely impact if you have a surgery scheduled because you need to maintain your blood sugar levels. To control your blood sugar levels during and after surgery, your doctor may advise you to stop eating such seeds two weeks before surgery.

Cumin’s other side effects

Pregnant and breastfeeding women and people with respiratory illnesses or ulcers should use it cautiously. It also conflicts with other drugs, including antibiotics, antiseizure, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory treatments. Thus, a doctor must prescribe it to pregnant or breastfeeding women if they want to consume cumin.

Fun Facts About Cumin:

  • Cumin seed is a product of the dried seed of the Cuminum Cymimuni plant.
  • Cumin is a major component of curry powder and chilli powder.
  • People thought cumin kept chickens and lovers from fleeing in the Middle Ages!
  • Some claims say that carrying cumin to a wedding would bring happiness.
  • Taxes were paid with cumin in some countries ages ago.
  • Cumin is the world’s second most popular spice, after black pepper.


Cumin is a key component of curry powder and mixed spice powder mixtures. Also, it is an additive in pickle and chutney mixtures. Cumin seeds have an aromatic scent due to alcohol called cuminol. Cumin seed-based fragrant oil is also popular in flavouring curries, liquor, and cordials, and the food industry has popularly employed it. It has therapeutic characteristics. Many Ayurvedic and veterinary remedies utilise it as a carminative, stomachic, astringent, and antidiarrheal. Cumin seeds can aid biliousness, morning sickness, indigestion, atonic dyspepsia, diarrhoea, malabsorption syndrome, and flatulent colic.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. 1 Is Cumin and Jeera the same?

A. Yes, cumin and jeera are the same spice. Jeera is the Hindi name for cumin.

Q. 2 Why is Cumin not good for you?

A. While cumin has certain medicinal properties, it has specific side effects. These effects include heartburn, liver damage, low sugar levels, and narcotic effects if taken in higher quantities. 

Q. 3 Is cumin the same as turmeric?

A. No, Cumin is not the same as turmeric. Turmeric is a root that comes from the flowering plant, a part of the ginger family known as Curcuma longa, and this spice contains curcumin, which is often confused with cumin.

Q. 4 Who should not take cumin?

A. Diabetic patients and patients with a weak liver or kidney must not take cumin as it contains a highly volatile oil that can cause the failure of these organs. In addition, breastfeeding/pregnant women and people with respiratory illness must avoid taking cumin.

Q. 5 Does cumin help with weight loss?

A. Yes, cumin can help with weight loss; it cannot completely erase the fat from your body but can assist in weight loss.

Q. 6 What flavour does cumin add to food?

A. Cumin gives instant depth to any meal by being rich and hearty, earthy and toasty, with a citrus touch. In recipes where you want to evenly distribute the flavour, use ground cumin rather than whole cumin seed.

Q. 7 What seasoning is close to cumin?

A. Any seasoning that is a part of the parsley family is close to cumin, as cumin is a part of the parsley family. The taste might be similar, for example, ground coriander, caraway seeds, etc.

Q. 8 How do you cook with cumin?

A. You may use this in stir-fry meals, curries, soups, salads, chaats, and other dishes. It is ideal to use this near the end of a stir fry or a soup. To use in curries, combine it with coriander powder or garam masala.

Q. 9 Can I drink cumin water every day?

A. Yes. It is suitable, and you are encouraged to drink cumin water daily, especially in the morning, to cleanse and hydrate your body effectively.

Q. 10 What is jeera water for weight loss?

A. Jeera is also known as cumin. As you already know by now, cumin helps in weight loss. You can add it to hot water early in the morning and have it as it is the most effective. Studies compare cumin’s weight loss effects to those of a weight-loss drug. According to research, the cumin and weight loss medication groups dropped considerable weight after eight weeks. It also helped lower insulin levels.

About the Author

Mehak holds masters in foods and nutrition from Amity university, Noida. She has a keen interest in public health and nutrition and has been in charge of various projects with milestone NGO. She has worked with people over the globe to bring out the changes in their lives and has always been working towards lifestyle modifications via good dietary practices. According to her a healthy lifestyle is not about the destination but all about the journey.

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