Nine good reasons to make black cumin a regular part of your diet
Black cumin seeds are the smallish seeds from the Nigella sativa plant. You might have heard of this popular health food before as one of its many names, including black seed, kalonji, small fennel and nigella.
Historically, black cumin was endemic to the Mediterranean region and the Middle East. But the N. sativa plant can now be found growing throughout Europe and the entire Indian subcontinent as well, where it is used as a medicinal plant.
Health benefits of black cumin
Recently, black cumin’s popularity has been on the rise thanks to it being introduced to western cuisine. This means that it’s become much easier to come across black cumin.
So does black cumin deserve a spot in your spice rack? Read on and let these nine facts decide for you!
- Black cumin is rich in antioxidants – Black cumin seeds are packed with potent antioxidants, which help protect cells from oxidative damage. Research shows that black cumin seeds’ powerful antioxidant properties also help protect against a host of diseases.
- Black cumin can reduce cholesterol – Clinical trials demonstrate that black cumin can reduce cholesterol levels, especially that of “bad” cholesterol. Having high levels of bad cholesterol just high cholesterol in general can be bad for the heart since it can clog our arteries.
- Black cumin has anti-cancer potential – Black cumin has also been studied for its potential as a cancer-fighting food. This anti-cancer potential is attributed to antioxidants in the seeds that keep harmful free radicals from causing DNA damage, a major culprit in cancer progression.
- Black cumin can kill harmful bacteria – Disease-causing microbes can cause dangerous infections. Fortunately, black cumin seeds are potent against all kinds of harmful microbes, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
- Black cumin helps relieve inflammation – Black cumin’s antioxidant properties are also said to be potent for stamping out inflammation that could trigger chronic illnesses.
- Black cumin protects the liver – Promising animal studies suggest that black cumin can protect our liver from inflammation, which could cause serious damage if left unchecked.
- Black cumin regulates blood sugar – Diabetics could benefit more from eating black cumin seeds. Some studies suggest that black cumin seeds can help reduce high blood sugar levels and keep them within the normal range for good.
- Black cumin can prevent stomach ulcers – One of the oldest traditional uses of black cumin seeds is to promote gut health. But experts now know that black cumin seeds can also help in treating and preventing stomach ulcers, as well as in minimizing the risk of other digestive problems.
- Black cumin is easy to incorporate into a nutritious diet – Black cumin seeds might intimidate the not-so-adventurous cooks, but don’t fret. Just treat them like sesame seeds! Black cumin’s strong flavor also has notes of onion, oregano and black pepper – an ideal match for savory dishes!
How to cook with black cumin
With such a versatile spice as black cumin, there’s no right or prescribed method of cooking with it. To get started, take a look at these incredible foods and dishes that feature black cumin.
- Panch phoron – Panch phoron is a spice blend that typically consists of black cumin seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds and black mustard seeds. You can sprinkle this over vegetables.
- Dukkah – Dukkah is a spice blend popular in Egypt. It features toasted hazelnuts, cumin, black cumin seeds, coriander and sesame seeds. It can be used as-is or ground into a pulp to make a dipping sauce.
- Mediterranean hummus – Black cumin’s smoky flavor helps to elevate a classic Mediterranean hummus. You can also toast the seeds in a pan beforehand to amplify its flavor even more.
- Ye’abesha gomen – This authentic Ethiopian collard green salad becomes more fragrant when flavored with black cumin seeds, cardamom and fenugreek.
- Roasted butternut squash – Coat cubes of butternut squash in a spice blend of sugar, cinnamon, salt, cumin seeds, black cumin seeds, coriander and cardamom. Roast until tender and serve with cilantro.
- Carrot salad with feta – This Middle Eastern-inspired dish is made by tossing carrot slices in lemon juice and olive oil, then topping them with toasted black cumin seeds.
- Red lentil dhal – Red lentil dahl, or Masoor dal, is a popular Indian dish. Besides lentils, this dish also features black cumin seeds, onions, garlic, turmeric, coriander, cardamom and cinnamon.
Black cumin seeds boast an impressive range of vitamins, minerals and potent plant compounds. To reap their nutritional benefits, incorporate them into your cooking by trying one of the dishes listed above.
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