Cumin is a spice that comes from the Cuminum cyminum plant. It is native to Asia, Africa and Europe but is used in cooking throughout the world. In fact, it's the second most popular spice after black pepper. It's also a staple remedy in Ayurvedic medicine.
2. Cumin has a rich history:
The history of cumin goes back over 5000 years. The ancient Egyptians were documented to have used it in both their cooking and in the mummification process. The Greeks and Romans used cumin for its medicinal properties. According to the bible, cumin had such medicinal value that it could be used as money. In the middle ages, cumin was thought to promote love and fidelity, so guests carried it at weddings.
3. Cumin may help you lose weight:
A recent study called 'Effect of cumin powder on body composition and lipid profile in overweight and obese women' found that the spice helped overweight women lose weight. Eighty-eight overweight women were split into two groups. One group had three grams of cumin powder with yogurt at two meals a day for three months. The other group ate yogurt without the spice added. Scientists found "weight, BMI, waist circumference, fat mass and its percentage significantly reduced" by the cumin. It also decreased levels of cholesterol. The cumin group lost an amazing 14.64 per cent of their body fat (1). Another study showed that participants who took 75mg of cumin supplements every day lost 3 pounds (1.4kg) more than those that took a placebo (2).
4. Cumin is great for digestion:
The most traditional use of cumin is for digestion and flushing toxins out of the body. Modern research has shown that cumin can increase the activity of digestive proteins, which can increase the speed of digestion (3). Cumin may also help people suffering from IBS. In one study, 57 patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome reported improved symptoms after taking concentrated cumin for two weeks (4).
5. Cumin is a rich source of iron:
Cumin seeds are naturally rich in iron (5). One teaspoon of ground cumin contains 1.4mg of iron - or 17.5% of the RDI for adults. Iron deficiency affects a lot of people - up to 20% of the world's population, so cumin is a great way to increase your daily intake of this important nutrient (6).
6. Eat more cumin!
Cumin has a very distinctive flavour with an earthy, nutty, spicy taste and is traditionally used in Indian, Mexican and Middle Eastern cooking. It is a key ingredient in curry powders and spice blends. Like most spices, cumin is extremely versatile and can be used to perk up a number of dishes - try it with rice, beans, potato wedges, salads, meat, stews and many more.