Cumin nutrition, diets and full health analysis
Complete nutrition and health benefits analysis for Cumin
Cumin is the dried seed of the herb named Cuminum cyminum, that is commonly used as a spice in different cuisines. Cumin is also known by its alternative name jeera or zeera. Cumin cyminum is a flowering plant belonging to the Apiaceae family, also known as the parsley family, that includes celery, carrots, anise, dill and other edible plants.
Both ground and whole seed cumin is used in the kitchen. Ground cumin is produced by grinding dry roasted seeds of the plant. Cumin seeds retain their taste for a longer period of time, as opposed to ground cumin.
People have been using cumin in traditional medicine for centuries. In this article, we will talk about the nutrition and health benefits of cumin, based on scientific evidence, as well as discussing what diets it fits in, where in the world it is most used in and other interesting aspects.
Adding cumin to a dish can slightly alter its nutritional value.
Macronutrients and Calories
The predominant macronutrients in cumin are carbohydrates, making up 44 percent. These carbohydrates consist mostly of dietary fiber with only a small amount of sugars.
The next macronutrients by content are fats. 22% of cumin consists of fats. However most of that fat is made up by the monounsaturated fatty acids, followed by polyunsaturated fatty acids, leaving unsaturated fatty acids in last place.
And lastly, proteins make up for 18% of cumin’s composition.
Calories in Cumin
A 100g of cumin contains 375 calories. However, cumin, being a spice, is never consumed in such large amounts. The average amount of cumin used in one serving size of a dish contains around merely 2 calories. Therefore cumin does not substantially change the caloric content of a dish.
Adding cumin to dishes can be a good source of supplementary vitamins.
Cumin is very rich in vitamin B1 and vitamin A. It also contains high amounts of vitamin B2, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Cumin has moderate levels of vitamin B3, vitamin E, vitamin K and folate (vitamin B9).
This spice completely lacks vitamin D, vitamin B12 and folic acid.
Cumin is very high in iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. It also contains moderate amounts of zinc, manganese, selenium and choline.
Cumin is fairly high in sodium.
Due to the low concentration of sugars in cumin, it has a very low glycemic index of 5.
Cuminum cyminum has been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of dyspepsia, diarrhoea and jaundice (1). Here we will look more deeply into the effects and mechanisms of cumin on human health. These biomedical activities of cumin are most likely due to some bioactive ingredients within cumin, such as terpenes, phenols and flavonoids (2).
Estrogens in the body have a beneficial effect on the lipid metabolism, therefore protecting the heart from conditions, such as coronary heart disease. During the menopause estrogen levels significantly decrease, leaving the person vulnerable to heart disease. Fruits of Cuminum cyminum are rich in phytoestrogens. A study has shown hypolipidemic activities of the methanolic extract of Cuminum cyminum, making it a potential element for the treatment of certain menopausal disorders (3).
These hypolipidemic and cardioprotective effects have been shown in experiments with rabbits as well (4).
Cumin has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat high blood pressure.
Oral administration of cumin seeds in rats has decreased systolic blood pressure and improved plasma nitric oxide, a factor responsible for relaxing muscles in blood vessels and further lowering blood pressure. This study has also demonstrated cumin to have ameliorating effects on inflammation and oxidative stress (5).
Another research has found Cuminum cyminum essential oil to significantly decrease diastolic blood pressure (6).
A research has found cumin to have the ability to reduce levels of low density lipoproteins and increase activity of antioxidant enzymes, such as paraoxonase and arylesterase, that protect lipids from oxidation (7).
However, another study did not show cumin to have cholesterol lowering properties in rats, when consumed 5 times the normal human intake level (8).
Many studies have shown cumin to lower blood glucose levels.
Cuminum cyminum supplementation in alloxan induced diabetic rats has resulted in significant reduction in blood glucose and an increase in total hemoglobin and glycosylated hemoglobin. It also prevented a decrease in body weight and reduced total and plasma cholesterol levels. Overall, cumin supplementation was found to be more effective than glibenclamide in the treatment of diabetes mellitus type 2 (1).
An eight week dietary regimen containing cumin powder beneficially reduced hyperglycemic and glucosuria in rats, as well as improving body weight and countering other metabolic alterations (9).
However, contradictingly, one research has found that adding aqueous extract of cumin at dietary doses, in two separate forms to a high glycemic index rice in healthy volunteers demonstrated no additional benefits on postprandial glycemia or insulinemia. This does not rule out other long term beneficial effects (10).
Studies suggest that chemopreventive effects of cumin can be attributed to its ability to modulate carcinogen metabolism. Experiments on mice have shown a significant inhibition of stomach tumor growth, as well as uterine cervix tumor growth by cumin (11).
Another research has demonstrated that chilli supplementation promotes colon cancer in rats, whereas cumin or black pepper supplementation suppresses colon carcinogenesis in the presence of a procarcinogen (12).
Cumin residue, generated from Ayurvedic industries, has a stronger anticancer activity by arresting cell cycle and inducing apoptosis in colon cancer cells, as opposed to raw cumin (13).
Cumin has also been studied to possess other effects on health, such as antimicrobial, analgesic, antistress, memory enhancing, antithrombotic, antiulcer, digestive stimulant, weight reducing, antiosteoporotic, contraceptive, immunological, bronchodilatory, protective and more (14).
As many spices and flavourings are derived from plants, they can cause allergic reactions. Though rare, cumin allergies do occur, at times causing food induced anaphylaxis (15).
Spices can cause both allergic and non-allergic reactions and it is important to differentiate the two. Non-allergic reactions usually do not need immediate medical care. These can express as rashes on the skin where the spice has touched, localized itching in the mouth or a cough due to inhalation (16).
A common allergen found in cumin is the protein called profilin. People who are hypersensitive to profilin can also experience allergic reactions triggered by coriander and dill. Cumin allergy may also have a cross reaction with mugwort and pollen allergy (17).
Symptoms of a cumin allergy, like all food allergies, may range from mild to severe. Using cumin for the first time may not cause any symptoms. The second time and onwards, symptoms, such as rashes, oral allergy syndrome (itching, swelling and tingling of the mouth area), coughing, diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting may appear. In rare cases cumin allergy may lead to anaphylactic shock.
Cumin in Diets
While cumin does contain carbohydrates, as only a small amount is added to the dish, it does not make a significant difference. Cumin is considered to be a keto friendly seasoning (18). However, it is important to remember about hidden carbs that cumin can provide, on a keto diet.
Cumin can be considered to be high in sodium. However, it has been researched to have hypotensive effects and has been used in traditional medicine to treat high blood pressure (4). Exchanging cumin for salt can be a way to reduce sodium intake.
All fresh herbs in small amounts, including cumin, are acceptable in Phase one of Atkins and onwards (19).
As cumin has likely originated in an Eastern Mediterranea region, it perfectly fits this diet (20).
Being a natural spice, cumin fits the Paleo diet (21).
Vegan/ Vegetarian/ Pescetarian
Cumin is a plant product and naturally fits in all three diets.
Most natural, sugar free spices are acceptable during the Dukan diet (22), therefore you can use cumin on this diet.
Naturally, you can use cumin as a spice during the eating periods, but not during fasting.
Low Fat & Low Calorie
Cumin adds only 2 calories in the average serving size of a seasoned dish. Cumin can be used as a spice in low fat and low calorie diets.
Cumin adds less than half a gram of carbohydrates to a dish. If the seasoned dish is consumed in moderation, cumin’s carb content can be ignored.
Studies have shown cumin to have certain anti inflammatory qualities (4).
Seasonings that are not spicy or strong can be used during the BRAT diet. Therefore, cumin can be used on this diet in moderate amounts.
The scientific name of black cumin is Nigella sativa, belonging to the Ranunculaceae family. It has many names, often being called fennel flower, black caraway, black seed, nutmeg flower, Roman coriander and kala jeera. Both cumin and black cumin are used as seasonings and have many beneficial health effects, however they are completely unrelated (2).
Sometimes a plant called Bunium Bulbocastanum can also be referred to as black cumin. This plant is unrelated to both common cumin and Nigella sativa as well.
Cumin is an alkaline spice, with a pH of 7,3 (14). It has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to regulate hyperacidity.
The acidity of cumin based on potential renal acid load (PRAL) has been calculated to be -32, alkaline.
The amount of cumin used in a serving size of a dish has been calculated to be a quarter of a teaspoon, equalling to 0,5 grams.
Cumin can be used in dishes in both forms: ground and whole seed. One tablespoon of ground cumin is equal to a quarter tablespoon of whole seeds. Cumin’s taste is described as an earthy flavour, with both sweetness and bitterness (23).
Cumin is a common ingredient in Indian cuisine and is a prominent component of famous curry powder and garam masala spice mixtures. Cumin is also used to make jeera rice.
Cumin can also be found in Mexican cuisine, where it is used to flavour cheeses or in baking (24).
Moreover, cumin seeds can be used to make tea.
Keeping, Storing and Conservation
The seeds can be kept in the freezer over a long period to maintain their flavour if you do not use them regularly; otherwise, the seeds can be stored in the pantry for up to 3 to 4 years. Ground cumin should be stored in a cool, dark place in a tightly sealed container and will last up to 6 months (23).
It is advised to store cumin as whole seeds and grind them whenever is needed if possible , as whole seeds keep the flavour for a longer period of time.
Consumption and Production
Cumin is native to Egypt and has been cultivated in the Middle East, India, China and Mediterranean countries for millennials. The plant possibly originated in the Mediterranean area, perhaps Egypt and Syria. Nowadays it is cultivated extensively in Turkey, India, China, Iraq, Libya, and Palestine. In the past, the largest cumin exporter to the United States was Iran. However, currently Turkey, India and China have provided alternatives. Now, the major production of cumin is established in India (states of Rajasthan and Gujarat) (14).
India, being the main producer and consumer of cumin, produces 70% of the world supply and consumes 90% of that (which means that India consumes 63% of the world's cumin). Other producers are Syria (7%), Iran (6%), and Turkey (6%). The remaining 11% comes from other countries. In total, around 300,000 tons of cumin per year is produced worldwide (25).
Important nutritional characteristics for Cumin
Cumin Glycemic index (GI)
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NEW NUTRITION FACTS LABEL
Serving Size ______________
Cumin nutrition infographic
Mineral coverage chart
Mineral chart - relative view
Vitamin coverage chart
Vitamin chart - relative view
Fat type information
Fiber content ratio for Cumin
All nutrients for Cumin per 100g
|Nutrient||DV%||In TOP % of foods||Value||Comparison|
|Protein||42%||29%||17.81g||6.3 times more than Broccoli|
|Fats||34%||13%||22.27g||1.5 times less than Cheese|
|Carbs||15%||23%||44.24g||1.6 times more than Rice|
|Calories||19%||19%||375kcal||8 times more than Orange|
|Sugar||0%||58%||2.25g||4 times less than Coca-Cola|
|Fiber||42%||10%||10.5g||4.4 times more than Orange|
|Calcium||93%||5%||931mg||7.4 times more than Milk|
|Iron||830%||2%||66.36mg||25.5 times more than Beef|
|Magnesium||87%||9%||366mg||2.6 times more than Almond|
|Phosphorus||71%||9%||499mg||2.7 times more than Chicken meat|
|Potassium||53%||6%||1788mg||12.2 times more than Cucumber|
|Sodium||7%||44%||168mg||2.9 times less than White Bread|
|Zinc||44%||20%||4.8mg||1.3 times less than Beef|
|Copper||96%||17%||0.87mg||6.1 times more than Shiitake|
|Vitamin E||22%||38%||3.33mg||2.3 times more than Kiwifruit|
|Vitamin C||9%||26%||7.7mg||6.9 times less than Lemon|
|Vitamin B1||52%||14%||0.63mg||2.4 times more than Pea|
|Vitamin B2||25%||23%||0.33mg||2.5 times more than Avocado|
|Vitamin B3||29%||36%||4.58mg||2.1 times less than Turkey meat|
|Vitamin B6||33%||29%||0.44mg||3.7 times more than Oat|
|Folate||3%||62%||10µg||6.1 times less than Brussels sprout|
|Vitamin K||5%||55%||5.4µg||18.8 times less than Broccoli|
|Saturated Fat||8%||53%||1.54g||3.8 times less than Beef|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0%||12%||14.04g||1.4 times more than Avocado|
|Polyunsaturated fat||0%||23%||3.28g||14.4 times less than Walnut|
The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article and glycemic index text the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.