Cumin seeds have been part of cooking for thousands of years.
Well before today’s scientists began researching them.
I have thoughtfully qualified cumin seeds as discreet.
Cumin seeds contribute to the taste of a dish in such a subtle but effective way that you would hardly single out their flavour.
It is unlikely you would even remember how they taste.
If you are, however, from the Indian subcontinent or from the Middle-East, cumin seeds are part of your life.
Cumin seeds, however, might provide neuro-protection against diseases such as Alzheimer's.
In 2012, during an International Conference in Spain, I was lucky to be amongst the audience of a keynote speaker from the Max Plank’s Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Germany.
The researcher spoke on neuro-degeneration and accumulating proteins.
One point he mentioned, outside of his own work, was
“on average, people from the Indian subcontinent consume 6gms per day of cumin seeds which might give them neuro-protection guarding against diseases such as Alzheimer’s”.
I went up to him after the talk with a curious mind to ask further about his point on cumin seeds, to which he mentioned there is no clear evidence to confirm the relation at that stage.
It is still probably not confirmed scientifically even today but there has been some research on the health benefits of cumin seeds.
I have since conducted a little literature research on this topic and his anecdotal point was probably quite correct.
There seem to be quite a few research papers on the health benefits of cumin seeds.
Cumin seeds, Nigella sativa, have been part of cooking for thousands of years.
Perhaps our ancestors knew the multiple health benefits cumin has.
Black cumin seed oil extracts have been used medicinally for many centuries in Indian, Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cultures.
Their medicinal value has been cited in some historical texts not excluding the Holy Bible where the seeds are described as the ‘curative black cumin’ (Isaiah 28:25, 27 NKJV).
The seeds were also referred to as ‘Melanthion’ by Hippocrates and Dioscorides which means ‘black seed’ in Greek.
It was recently found that one of the compounds named Thymoquinone, is majorly responsible for the various health benefits that cumin seeds are deemed to possess. Some of the researched health benefits and properties of black cumin seeds are:
- Improved cognitive functions in cerebrovascular hypoperfusion
- Modulate mood, anxiety and cognitive function in humans
- Antioxidant properties
- Rheumatoid arthritis
The list continues to grow, however, the benefits are far from conclusive at this stage. From the point of view of research, it may be some time until the benefits offered to humans by cumin seeds are completely conclusive.
Such studies are, however, pointing to cumin seeds playing a role in neuro-protection and reduced brain degeneration in Alzheimer's.
I want to present a fact from my own family members’ history in a very non-scientific way but perhaps with some logic.
My grandfather’s five brothers and their spouses, who were all born in the early part of 20th century, lived until they reached their mid-eighties and they all aged without any cognitive impairments. My grandfather was an exception who died just before he reached 50 due to diabetes and hypertension.
The important point here to be stressed is they aged, healthy in mind.
It would be foolish to attribute their healthy ageing to cumin seeds alone as many factors such as diet, exercise and lifestyle might have contributed to their well-being rather synergistically.
I cannot disagree with anyone who may criticize me for citing my ancestors' experience as it is not scientific but it is an undeniable fact that I share.
I don’t intend to hail cumin seeds for everything good that happened but I can assure you that cumin seeds were part of their daily diet until they lived along with other factors.
I can confidently say that a pinch of cumin seeds (roasted or fried) in your daily diet can only have a beneficial effect on your health!