Cumin, as used traditionally, is the seed of Cuminum cyminum. The seeds look very similar to fennel seeds but are darker and smaller than fennel seeds. Cumin is also very similar to caraway seeds but cumin is larger and lighter that caraway seeds. Cumin is known as Jeera in Hindi. Cumin
is widely used in Indian, Thai and Mexican recipes.
Cumin seeds have a very strong, bitter taste which is attributed to the abundance of essential oils. One of the main components is cuminaldehyde (4-isopropylbenzaldehyde).
Cumin has a strong anti-bacterial activity and has been shown to be effective against-
Cumin seeds when administered with known carcinogens (agents capable of causing cancer) to either mouse or rats offered significant protection against cancer.
- Helicobacter pylori (Bacteria known to cause ulcers),
- Bacteria known to cause plant and mushroom disease, and
- Bacteria known to cause human infections.
Extracts of cumin seeds showed an increase in gastric secretions. When rats were administered ethanol and thermally oxidised oil, they showed significant hepatotoxicity, in that; there was an increase in the levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides. This hepatotoxicity was reduced significantly in rats given cumin.
Studies focusing on diabetes have shown significant anti diabetic effect of cumin seeds.
Cumin seeds have been shown to have some anti-oxidative power. There have been studies done to show that cumin seeds can prevent oxidation of sunflower oil and hence reduce rancidity of oil.
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