The Benefits of Black Cumin Seeds
The black cumin or Nigella seed is a small but powerful ingredient. This is a 12 inch (30 cm) tall plant which produces flavourful seeds popular in cooking. In fact, it is especially common to Indian cooking since it helps to cleanse the body. Apart from this, it works as a healer, disinfectant, and medicine for digestive health. Further, it helps lactating mothers produce sufficient milk and can regulate their uterine flow as well.
Here are some specific benefits it brings to your body.
Antioxidants are essential to fighting free radical activity, and thus preventing oxidative damage. In this manner, it can ward away infections and disease. For example, it can provide specific protection against chronic illness such as obesity and diabetes. This is because it contains compounds such as 4-terpeneol which are antioxidant-rich. Many test tube studies prove this too. However, more research among human beings can help to confirm these findings.
In addition, the antioxidant properties present can fight off cancer as well. For instance, test tube studies show that it can cause cell death of blood and breast cancer cells. Other studies suggest that it can also fight forms of pancreatic, lung, and prostate cancers. Again, human studies are unfortunately sparse in this area.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is a leading cause of obesity and heart diseases. In fact, too much cholesterol can clog up your arteries and increase blood pressure among healthy individuals as well. Fortunately, various studies show that black seeds can help with this. To demonstrate this, one review of 17 studies shows that it can lower levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
It is important to note that black seed oil has better effects than the powdered form. This differs from seed powder alone which only raises ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels. For instance, a review amongst 57 diabetic patients shows that consuming black seed supplements for one year can lower total LDL cholesterol levels, and in fact raise levels of HDL cholesterol. Similarly, another study among 84 diabetic patients shows that consuming just 2 grams of this seed everyday for three weeks can reduce both total and LDL cholesterol levels.
Pathogenic bacteria can cause a range of infections – from ear irritations to pneumonia. Nigella seeds, however, contain antibacterial properties which can fight off harmful strains. Many test tube studies and human studies confirm this too. For instance, one study finds that applying this seed oil to infants can work just as great as regular antibiotics. Similarly, another study of the antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria finds that black seeds can kill this in a dose-dependent way. In this manner, it can heal the wounds of diabetic patients. In addition, various test tube studies show that it can kill similar bacterial forms as well. However, more studies among humans can confirm this.
Inflammation is a regular immune response which protects your body from illness. However, chronic inflammation can cause a host of other illnesses – such as cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes. Thankfully, black seeds can help you prevent this. This is because many studies prove that it provides anti-inflammatory effects which can lower the chance of diseases. For instance, one study among 42 rheumatoid arthritis patients finds that a dosage of 1,000 mg of black seeds on a daily basis for two weeks can lower inflammation and oxidative stress. Similarly, a second study shows that black seeds lowers inflammation levels in the spinal cord and brain of rats.
Finally, a third study notes that these seeds can lower inflammation rates in pancreatic cells. This is namely due to an active compound known as Thymoquinone in the seeds.
Stomach Ulcer Prevention
Stomach ulcers form due to erosion of the protective mucus lining in the stomach, due to acids. In such a case, black seeds can help with preserving the stomach lining and preventing stomach acid erosion. Various animal studies prove this too. For instance, one animal study treating 20 rats with stomach ulcers finds that it has a success rate of 83%. Further, it works nearly as effectively as regular stomach ulcer medication. Similarly, a third animal study finds that it protects the stomach lining against the corrosive effects of alcohol. However, a drawback of each of these studies is that they may not directly apply to human beings in various cases.
Consuming Black Seeds
There are various means through which you can add this to your diet. For instance, many communities lightly toast and ground it (or alternatively, add it as a whole) to curries or breads. It adds in a bitter taste with a hint of oreganos and onions, and is especially common to Middle Eastern or South Asian cuisines. Alternatively, you can add it to oatmeal, yogurt or smoothies. Above all, the simplest and most common form is to eat the seeds raw or mix it with honey and water.
Nigella seeds are an all-natural Ayurvedic medicine which houses a variety of benefits. For instance, it contains antioxidant properties, lowers cholesterol levels, and can fight bacteria, inflammation, and stomach ulcers. Further, they are a versatile ingredient which you can either add to your curries or breads, or mix it up in other raw dishes. If you’re short on time, be sure to mix it in water and drink it as a solution.
Check out some sunflower seeds available at Mekosha here.