Cumin seeds, also known as jeera, are widely used to temper food and enhance its flavour in a variety of preparations. These dried seeds are of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. They have numerous health benefits and are commonly used in Asian households to fight off stomach woes, soothe the digestive tract, relieve nausea, bloating and constipation. In fact, they are routinely used for digestive efficiency and health but cumin seeds are also used as an adjuvant therapy along with oral medication in people with Type 2 diabetes.
Some studies have found that cumin seeds can help regulate fasting blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. This may be due to the presence of certain compounds in cumin seeds, such as cumin aldehyde, which have been shown to have anti-diabetic effects. The blood glucose lowering potential of cumin is also attributed to the presence of thymoquinone, an active chemical component that protects the B-cells of the pancreas from oxidative stress. It helps stimulate the insulin production in the body, which can help to keep the blood sugar levels in check.
Consuming cumin either as whole seeds or in the form of ground powder may help in managing blood sugars in diabetics. It not only lowers blood glucose levels but also helps maintain a healthy body weight. It may help lower levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein) and triglyceride levels. Cumin seeds have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be beneficial for reducing the risk of complications associated with diabetes, such as cardiovascular disease. These are also a good source of antioxidants, which can help protect against cell damage and may be particularly beneficial for people with diabetes, who are at increased risk of oxidative stress.
While there may be some potential benefits of cumin seeds for people with diabetes, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between cumin seeds and diabetes. However, a string of studies over decades has established a definite correlation. Way back in 1998, an eight week dietary regimen containing cumin powder in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats was found to be remarkably beneficial, as indicated by reduction in hyperglycemia. This was also accompanied by improvement in body weights of diabetic animals. Dietary cumin countered other metabolic alterations as revealed by lowered blood urea level and reduced excretions of urea and creatinine by diabetic animals.
Seeds of Nigella sativa (black cumin/kalonji) were found to have anti-diabetic properties in a study conducted in 2011. Thymoquinone (TQ), a volatile oil, is one of its active constituents but antidiabetic activity has also been shown by its aqueous extract and defatted extract. The study said, “N. sativa may be beneficial in diabetic individuals and those with glucose intolerance as it reduces appetite, glucose absorption in intestine, hepatic gluconeogenesis, blood glucose level, cholesterol, triglycerides, body weight and simulates glucose induced secretion of insulin from beta-cells in pancreas; improves glucose tolerance….yet it has not shown significant adverse effects and has very low toxicity. In streptozotocin (STZ) induced diabetic rats it causes gradual partial regeneration of pancreatic beta-cells, increases the lowered serum insulin concentrations and decreases the elevated serum glucose.”
According to a study to evaluate the effect of 50 and 100 mg doses of green cumin essential oil on glycaemic and inflammatory indices in patients with Type 2 diabetes, it was established how administering cuminum cyminum supplement (or cumin) in such patients could decrease the serum levels of insulin, fasting blood sugar and glycosylated haemoglobin. In addition, it was found to control the complications of Type 2 diabetes in these patients.
In another study, which was published in ‘Nutrition and Metabolism,’ cumin not only lowered blood glucose levels but helped people maintain a healthy body weight, which is one of the potential causes of diabetes in the first place.
In a 2018 study, crude ethanol extract of cumin seeds was found to be very helpful in the improvement of plasma lipid profile as one of the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and heart failure in diabetic patients.
That being said, there are several ways to incorporate cumin seeds into your diet. Here are a few ideas:
1. Sprinkle cumin seeds on roasted vegetables or grilled meats for added flavour and nutrition.
2. Use cumin seeds in home-made spice blends for soups, stews, and other dishes.
3. Brew cumin seed tea by boiling a teaspoon of cumin seeds in a cup of water for 5-10 minutes.
4. Mix ground cumin seeds into salad dressings, dips, or sauces.
5. Add cumin seeds to lentil or bean dishes to enhance the flavour and nutrition.
6. You can add roasted jeera seeds to your food or grind it into a powder and sprinkle it over salads, yogurt, buttermilk and cut fruits.
7. One can simply chew on 1 tsp of roasted jeera after meals every day.
A word of caution, consult your diabetologist and dietitian about the amount of supplement to be taken should you already be on medication to control blood sugar.
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First published on: 09-05-2023 at 10:00 IST