Curry Powder vs. Cumin — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Ground cumin is a single spice, while curry powder mixes multiple spices, including ginger, garlic, and turmeric. Given that the serving sizes for both are small, any differences observed are not important when placed in the context of the daily need for macronutrients, minerals, or vitamins. Nevertheless, per the same serving, cumin seeds provide 2 times more fat, while curry powder provides 5 times more fiber.
Curry powder provides 18 times more Vitamin K and 8 times more Vitamin E compared to cumin seeds. It also provides 8 times more selenium and 2 times more manganese. On the other hand, cumin seeds provide 67 times more Vitamin A, 4 times more Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B6, as well as 2-3 times more iron, calcium, and potassium.
Table of contents
- What’s the Actual Difference?
- Health Benefits
- Weight Loss
- Anti-inflammatory Effects
- Hypotensive Effects
- Cardiovascular Health
- Brain Health
- Downside and Risks
Earthy and aromatic spices add delicate flavors to any dish. Ground cumin and curry powder are two spices that you can find in any kitchen all over the world. However, these spices are often confused with each other. This article can explore the differences and similarities between cumin seeds and curry powder and their health impact.
Cumin is the dried seed of the Cuminum herb. Cumin is often used in the kitchen, both in whole seed form and ground form. It is also known as jeera. Cumin belongs to the Apiaceae family, which also includes celery, carrots, anise, dill, and other edible plants.
Curry powder is a spice mix in which the main ingredients are ginger, garlic, and turmeric. Some blends also contain garlic and cinnamon. Curry powder originates from India.
What’s the Actual Difference?
The most significant difference between ground cumin and curry powder is that ground cumin is a single spice, while curry powder mixes multiple spices, including ginger, garlic, and turmeric.
Whole cumin seeds also visually differ as they are much bigger in size than ground spices.
Cumin and curry powder also differ in their taste. Cumin is earthy, spicy, and slightly bitter. Curry powder can be hot due to chili or black pepper, and it can also taste sweet due to spices like cinnamon. Cumin has a brown color, while curry powder is often a shade of yellow.
Cumin is widely used in cooking. You can add it to dry rubs for roasted or grilled meats, to soups, and the breading for fried foods.
Curry powder is used in a variety of dishes to give it its characteristic flavor and vibrant flavor. Curry powder is used to flavor soups, sauces, meat, and vegetables.
The serving sizes for both spices are usually about 0.5g-2g, but depending on the dish, you might add more. One teaspoon of whole cumin seeds and one teaspoon of curry powder is around 2 grams.
However, to keep the comparison between the two spices simple, we will sometimes refer to 100-gram servings of each.
Macronutrients and Calories
As can be seen from the macronutrient comparison charts below, the most prevalent macronutrients in both curry powder and cumin seeds are carbohydrates. Curry powder consists of 56% carbs, while cumin seeds consist of 44% carbs.
Given that the serving sizes for both cumin seeds and curry powder are very small, the differences in macronutrients are not relevant in the context of the daily recommended amount of nutrients and calories.
The number of calories cumin seeds and curry powder provide are almost equal.
One teaspoon serving of curry powder (2 grams) provides around 7 calories, while one teaspoon of cumin seeds (2.1 grams) provides around 8 calories.
Cumin seeds contain 375 calories per 100-gram serving, and curry powder contains 325 calories.
Curry powder contains around 5 times more fiber than cumin seeds.
One teaspoon serving of curry powder (2 grams) contains 1.12 grams of total carbohydrates and 1.06 grams of fiber, while one teaspoon of cumin seeds (2.1 grams) contains 0.928 grams of total carbohydrates and 0.22 grams of fiber.
Cumin seeds contain 2 times more fat than curry powder.
One teaspoon serving of curry powder (2 grams) contains around 0.28 grams of fat, while one teaspoon of cumin seeds (2.1 grams) contains around 0.47 grams.
As can be seen from the fat type breakdown charts below, the most prevalent type of fat found in both is monounsaturated fat, which makes up 65% of the entire fat content in curry powder and 74% of the entire fat content in cumin.
Both spices have no trans fats and no cholesterol.
Fat Type Comparison
A single serving of neither curry powder nor cumin seeds provide significant amounts of vitamins to contribute to your daily needs; however, they still do contain various vitamins that we can discuss here.
Curry powder provides 18 times more Vitamin K, 8 times more Vitamin E, and slightly more folate than cumin seeds. On the other hand, cumin seeds provide 67 times more Vitamin A, 4 times more Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B6, as well as more Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B3.
They both completely lack Vitamin D and Vitamin B12, and while some small amounts of Vitamin B5 are present in curry powder, it is completely absent in cumin seeds.
Just like the vitamin content, the amounts of minerals per single serving for both cumin seeds and curry powder are not significant enough to contribute to the daily need; however, we can still compare the content.
Cumin seeds contain 2 times more calcium and potassium, 3 times more iron, as well as relatively more magnesium and phosphorus. On the other hand, curry powder is 8 times higher in selenium, around 2 times higher in manganese, and slightly higher in copper.
The glycemic index is a rating system used for foods containing carbohydrates.
The glycemic index of cumin seeds is negligibly lower than that of curry powder. The GI of cumin seeds is equal to 0, whereas curry powder has a GI equal to 5. Both are considered low glycemic index foods.
One way to understand the acidity of foods is through their potential renal acid load (PRAL) value, which shows how much acid or base the given food produces inside the organism.
Based on our calculations, the PRAL values of cumin seeds and curry powder are -32 and -17.4, respectively, which means cumin seeds have greater potential to alkalize the body.
Most natural, sugar-free spices are acceptable during diets. In particular, ground cumin is considered to be a keto-friendly, paleo-friendly seasoning. Curry powder usually contains turmeric, which gives a golden hue to your recipes.
Both curry powder and curry seeds are great additions to your recipes during low-calorie and low-fat diets.
All fresh herbs in small amounts, including ground cumin and curry powder, are acceptable in the first phase of Atkins and beyond (1).
Both cumin and curry powder contain bioactive compounds that are called curcumin. Curcumin is considered a potent antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory effects. Studies have shown that curcumin can block the action of free radicals and may stimulate the activity of other antioxidants (2).
In addition, chili pepper and coriander in curry powder also have potent anti-inflammatory effects. Capsaicin compounds in them can block the destructive effects of free radicals (3).
According to one study conducted on rats, oral administration of cumin seeds has decreased systolic blood pressure and improved plasma nitric oxide, a factor responsible for lowering blood pressure. This study has also shown that cumin can lower inflammation and oxidative stress (4).
Studies show that the chemopreventive effects of cumin can be attributed to its ability to modulate the metabolism of carcinogens. Studies in mice show significant suppression of the growth of stomach tumors and cervical tumors with cumin (5).
Since curry powder contains turmeric, it also has an anti-cancer effect. Animal studies have shown that curcumin can reduce the growth of cancer cells. It also can reduce angiogenesis (6).
Many studies have shown that cumin can lower blood glucose levels. According to a study conducted on rats, cumin supplementation in alloxan-induced diabetic rats has significantly reduced blood glucose and increased total hemoglobin and glycosylated hemoglobin. It also prevented a decrease in body weight and reduced total cholesterol levels (7).
According to another study, turmeric extract helps stabilize blood sugar levels and make diabetes more manageable (8). Curry powder can help with blood sugar management in type 2 diabetes because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Estrogens in the body improve lipid metabolism, therefore protecting the heart from coronary heart disease. During menopause, estrogen levels significantly decrease, leaving women vulnerable to heart disease. According to the study, cumin extract has hypolipidemic activities, making it a potential element for treating certain menopausal disorders (9).
The main component of curry powder, curcumin, has beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease. It improves the function of the endothelium that lines your blood vessels. Studies have shown that curcumin may improve endothelial function (10).
According to one study, curcumin, one of the main compounds of curry powder and cumin, can protect your brain. It can significantly improve markers of mental decline and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (11).
Downside and Risks
The allergy reaction of cumin is caused by a compound called profilin. People who are sensitive to profilin can also experience allergic reactions triggered by coriander. Cumin allergy can also have a cross-reaction with pollen allergy. Symptoms usually include itching, swelling, and tingling of the mouth area.
Curry powder can have some side effects if taken in high amounts. In rare cases, people can experience stomach upset, dizziness, or diarrhea.
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in Glycemic Index|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||1µg||64µg|
|Omega-6 - Gamma-linoleic acid||0.013g|
|Omega-3 - ALA||0.255g|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet|
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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.
- Curry powder - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170924/nutrients
- Cumin - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170923/nutrients
All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.