Cumin is also known by its plant name Cuminum cyminum and it belongs to the plant family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae, which is also known as the parsley, celery, or carrot family. Cumin seeds are also called jeera. The history of the herb dates back 5,000 years, and it was highly regarded by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.
Cumin has a distinctive yellow-green-brown color with a sharp, pungent, and slightly sweet flavor. Cumin seeds have been used heavily in herbal medicine, and they are loaded with beneficial nutrients.
Health benefits of cumin seeds
Cumin seeds contain many phytochemicals that are known to have antioxidant, carminative and anti-flatulent properties. The seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber.
Its seeds contain certain health benefiting essential oils such as cuminaldehyde (4-isopropylbenzaldehyde), pyrazines, 2-methoxy-3-sec-butylpyrazine, 2-ethoxy-3-isopropylpyrazine, and 2-methoxy-3-methylpyrazine.
The active principles in the cumin may improve gut motility and help in digestion by augmenting gastrointestinal juice (enzyme) secretions.
The spice is an excellent source of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Copper required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is essential for red blood cell formation. Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. The human body uses manganese as a cofactor for the important antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
It also contains very good amounts of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin, and other vital anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
The seeds are also a rich source of many flavonoid phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, zeaxanthin, and lutein.