One slightly-bitter, fragrant, and healing spice has been a mainstay in our kitchen for the longest time. Cumin, in all its forms, is one spice I can’t resist including in any dish. It adds the perfect amount of depth to Mexican flavors, a rich and healing element to Indian dishes, and a bite to my favorite Middle Eastern cuisines. The real reason I love cumin? It’s so much more than the taste. This ancient spice has been used since the beginning of time for it’s healing properties. In fact, Ancient Roman and Greek societies used to use it as a cheaper alternative to black pepper! But our love for the spice goes deeper than that...
1. Powerful Digestive Aid
Cumin is one of the most vital ingredients in Ayurvedic Kitchari, noted as being an extremely powerful digestive aid. There’s a number of reasons our gastrointestinal tract responds to the seed; most importantly, cumin contains oils that stimulate secretion of pancreatic enzymes that are crucial for both digestion and nutrient absorption. There’s a reason cultures like those in India and the Middle East have such great digestion, and it’s thanks to this humble seed.
2. Contains Anti-Cancer Properties
This term gets thrown around a lot in natural nutrition, but there’s an incredible amount of research going into how effective the healing properties of cumin really are. The seed is packed full of nutrients with free-radical scavenging tendencies, prompting a closer look from the scientific community into the healing properties that have been used in Ayurvedic practice for centuries.
3. Rich Source of Iron
While it’s not advised to get all of your Recommended Daily Intake from a spice jar, getting creative with the cumin in your meals can help boost those vital iron levels. 100gm of the spice contains 66.4mg of the essential mineral, and while we don’t recommend eating cumin seeds by the spoonful, a pinch here and there can all add up at the end of the day.
4. Beat The Bloat & Increase Urine Flow To Detoxify
We’ve established (and if we’ve ever eaten too much, it’s pretty easy to tell) that cumin has wonderful digestive properties, but there’s another way that the spice can help us fight that bloated feeling. Cumin is a natural diuretic, promoting healthy kidney function and ridding of toxins within the body. Increased urine flow within the body helps to tackle any blockages and let go of any water retention. In essence, the seed serves to promote detoxification within these pathways.
5. Gives Power To Reproductive Health
There are two ways that cumin helps to keep our reproductive systems thriving. The spice is a natural aphrodisiac, increasing sexual desire by way of chemical reactions in the brain - so put down the oysters and pick up a spice jar instead. Cumin has also been noted for playing a role in a healthy menstrual cycle. It helps to contract the uterus, which can release any trapped blood. If you are having issues with an irregular cycle, try soaking two tablespoons of the seed in a glass of water overnight, and drinking first thing the next morning. This can be repeated until your cycle becomes regular.
6. Adds Punchy, Salivating Flavor
My favorite part about the spice is it just smells so nourishing and homely when it’s heated on the stove. The sound of the seeds popping and the smell of the spice emulsifying get me salivating; there’s a good reason for this. Science tells us that even the mere mention of a food can trigger a reaction in the brain to stimulate saliva production, which produces vital enzymes to help break down our food from the outset.
4 Recipes That Use Cumin
Cumin, alongside all the wonderful health benefits, has so much versatility in the kitchen. Some of my most-loved Food Matters recipes:
- Spiced Sweet Potato, Puy Lentil, and Rocket Salad with Honey Roasted Walnuts
- Crazy Sexy Bean Chili
- Takka Dahl with Spinach and Tomato
- Cumin Scrambled Eggs for breakfast!
Use these recipes to get inspired in the kitchen and serve up your most healing dish yet.