Cumin is a plant native to the Mediterranean, and areas such as India, Morocco and Egypt produce large amounts of cumin seeds. After harvesting seeds from the cumin plant, manufacturers ground the seed into a powder to make ground cumin. Cumin flavors foods during cooking and when combined with other spices, forms common seasonings including chili powder and curry. Companies use the fragrant powder to add scent to perfume, cosmetics and lotions. Many people use ground cumin for medicinal purposes.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Diabetes is a chronic condition that causes high blood sugar levels when the body doesn't make adequate amounts of insulin or doesn't use insulin correctly. Symptoms of high blood sugar levels include frequent urination, thirst and fatigue. Treatment for diabetes includes a healthy diet with limited sugar and carbohydrate intake, exercise and medications. Oral medications may help decrease blood sugar levels. Using cumin may help decrease blood sugar levels for people. A study published in "Food and Chemical Toxicology" in 2010 compared the blood sugar levels for mice taking a popular diabetes medication to mice taking cumin. The results showed the medication and the cumin significantly reduced blood sugar levels in the mice.
Helps Prevent Cancer
Ground cumin may help prevent cancerous tumors. A study published in "Cancer Letters" in 2007 involving mice showed cumin to help protect against the induction of colon cancer. Preclinical studies showed cumin to help prevent the growth of stomach tumors and liver tumors in mice, according to the same study. The spice may help reduce the likelihood of cancer by reducing free radicals and increasing the liver’s ability to detoxify the blood.
Historically, people used cumin to treat epilepsy, toothaches and diarrhea, increase urination and reduce inflammation in the body. Cumin may help stimulate the pancreas to secrete enzymes to assist with proper digestion, according to Drugs.com. Using fresh seasonings, including ground cumin, can help spice up food. People on a restricted diet can add flavor using this spice without increasing sodium or fat intake.
The U.S. Food and Drug administration does not regulate the use of cumin and does not have a recommended dose of the spice. Because ground cumin may reduce blood sugar levels, people with hypoglycemia and diabetes may need to use caution when eating ground cumin. Cumin oil is more concentrated than ground cumin and may offer better medicinal benefits because the grinding process may cause a loss of half the oil from the seed. Although cumin may have health benefits, clinical studies are lacking for people. Always consult a healthcare professional before using any alternative therapy to diagnose or treat a medical condition.
- Drugs.com: Cumin
- MayoClinic.com: Slide Show: Your Guide to Spices
- PubMed Health: Diabetes
- Food and Chemical Toxicology: Antihypergylcemic Activity and Inhibition of Advanced Glycation End Product Formation by Cuminum Cyminum in Streptozotocin Induced Diabetic Rats
- The Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness: Spices in Cancer Prevention: An Overview
- Cancer Letters: Curcumin for Chemoprevention of Colon Cancer
- Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images