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Benefits of Cumin

benefits-of-cumin

What do you know about cumin? Cumin seeds are pungent, potent little things with the ability to significantly change the trajectory of a dish. They are featured prominently in Mexican, Mediterranean, Indian, Middle Eastern, and certain Chinese cuisines.

Back in the Middle Ages, cumin was one of the most popular – and most accessible – condiments for the spice-crazy Europeans, and stories tell of soldiers going off to war with loaves of cumin bread in their satchels for good luck. Cumin originated in the Mediterranean, and it was used extensively by the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, the Persians, and just about everyone in that region.

Cumin vs. Caraway

It’s not a good idea to substitute cumin for caraway, or vice versa. They are somewhat similar in appearance, but vastly different in taste. Cumin gives Mexican and Middle Eastern recipes their signature aroma, whereas caraway is most common in Eastern European dishes. Cumin seeds are larger than caraway seeds, and cumin is a more warming spice than caraway.

Cumin is often confused with caraway, which is actually called “cumin” in multiple European languages.

Health Benefits of Cumin

Cumin is in my top 10 favorite spices mostly for taste, but the benefits for health don’t hurt.

As is usually the case with spices that have been in use for thousands of years, cumin appears to provide a number of potential health benefits. It contains anti-glycation agents, antioxidants, and anti-osteoporotic, and much more. Note that many of the surnames in the following PubMed links are of Indian origin.

Cumin, along with ghee and a host of other spices, played a prominent role in the Ayurvedic medicinal traditions, and I love seeing a lot of these supposedly “old wives’ tales” get preliminary scientific justification:

It is thought that some of the health benefits are magnified when you pair cumin with coriander.

Black cumin isn’t the same as culinary cumin – its uses are more medicinal.

What Is Cumin Good For?

Curries are great and expected places to insert cumin, of course, but why not branch out and explore? Cumin used to act as a replacement for expensive black pepper for people who couldn’t afford it, so why not treat it like that yourself and add it to things you’d otherwise never think to? Cumin and scrambled eggs. Cumin and sweet potatoes. Cumin and homemade stock for a nice hot drink before bed. If you’d eat it with black pepper, try it with cumin – not for any health benefits, necessarily, but just for a nice change of pace. My latest favorite is beef (any cut will do) marinated in lime juice, wheat-free tamari, and cumin. I just did a batch of bone-in short ribs like that with homemade beef broth, and it was incredible. I highly recommend it.

Cumin Recipes

Here are a few recipes featuring cumin as the star of the show:

Cumin and Coriander Lamb Stir Fry

Salmon Zucchini and Lemon Skewers

Instant Pot Lamb and Sweet Potato Stew

Cuban Mojo Chicken

How Do You Pronounce Cumin?

Depending on who is speaking, you may hear cumin pronounced as KYOO-min or KOO-min. The official pronunciation is KYOO-min.

Now you know.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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