By Dr Hemapriya, mylittlemoppet_official
Most of us remember being served cumin (jeera) water after our meals when we were kids, although we never asked why! Today we know that drinking cumin water was one of the healthiest things we did during our childhood, even if we were the pickiest of eaters!
Cumin, also known as jeera in India, is a plant that grows mainly in India, China, the Middle East and in the Mediterranean region. What we consume are the dried seeds of the fruits of the plant called Cuminum cyminum, which belongs to the parsley family.
There are three main types of cumin,
- the brown, small cumin seeds which are most commonly available,
- black cumin, also known as Nigella seeds or kalonji
- bitter cumin also known as Shah jeera or Kashmiri jeera.
Cumin seeds are available whole or as powder. Cumin is considered a spice and is widely used in Indian cuisine, as well as Mexican and African cuisine. In India, cumin water or jeera water is popular throughout the country and is often had with meals. Cumin water is made by boiling cumin seeds in water and then straining the water.
Cumin water has many health benefits, thanks to the nutritional quotient of cumin seeds. Cumin seeds are rich in calcium, iron and magnesium, while being very low in calories; 1 teaspoon contains only 7 calories. Due to this, cumin seeds and cumin water are used as treatment for many common ailments and to boost overall health. Here is a look at the health benefits of jeera and jeera water.
Health Benefits of Jeera and Jeera Water
1. Improves Digestion
The most common use for cumin water is as a digestive aid. This is the reason it is offered along with meals. Cumin seeds can speed digestion by enhancing the function of digestive enzymes. Cumin water also helps treat an array of digestive problems like indigestion, flatulence, nausea, bloating and even IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. Cumin seeds also improve liver function by increase the release of bile.
2. Prevents Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Iron deficiency anemia is extremely widespread in India, and our country carries the highest burden of this illness with over 50% of women and children being affected. Cumin water is a simple and economical cure for this, since cumin seeds are naturally packed with iron – just one teaspoon contains 17.5% of the daily requirement for adults. This means that even a small quantity of cumin can help refill iron stores in the body.
3. Provides Antioxidant Benefits
Cumin seeds are a rich source of helpful plant compounds, including flavonoids, phenols, terpenes, alkaloids and antioxidants like apigenin and luteolin). Antioxidants help fight free radical damage, that causes inflammation, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. What’s more, antioxidants help improve skin health and boost hair growth.
4. Fights Inflammation
Another benefit of drinking cumin seeds daily is the anti-inflammatory benefits it provides. Cumin seeds contain plant compounds that reduce levels of inflammation that may be the cause of pain, hair loss, skin problems or joint issues. Several studies have proven that the seeds themselves have high anti-inflammatory properties compared to the oil extracted from it.
5. Promotes Weight Loss
It is common knowledge that obesity is a leading cause of various lifestyle diseases. The WHO claims that obesity across the world has almost grown by three times in the past 40 odd years. Cumin water is an excellent anti-obesity tonic and studies have shown that overweight people who consumed cumin lost more weight than those who didn’t.
6. Controls Blood Sugar
India is the nation with the second largest diabetic population, with one in six Indians being diagnosed. The number is only rising thanks to an increased processed food intake and lack of movement. Cumin water can counter the effects of diabetes by reducing the production of advanced glycation end products or AGEs. AGEs are found in people with high blood sugar levels and are responsible for kidney, eye and nerve damage.
7. Improve Blood Cholesterol
Cholesterol is something we tend to ignore unless problems crop up. The Indian Heart Association says that South Asians are highly likely to have low levels of HDL, the good cholesterol which increases our risk for heart disease. Cumin seeds and cumin water, when consumed regularly, can decrease the levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol and increases the levels of HDL. This is because cumin has hypolipidemic, or cholesterol-lowering, properties.
8. Prevents Food-Borne Illnesses
In addition to improving digestion, cumin can also improve our immunity, especially against food-borne illnesses, thanks to its antimicrobial properties. Studies have shown the efficacy of cumin against various kinds of bacteria and fungi. On digestion, cumin seeds release megalomicin, which is what fights the bacteria, even killing antibiotic-resistant versions. Cumin water is also an effective treatment for diarrhea.
How to Prepare Jeera Water
Add a teaspoon of cumin seeds to 2 cups of water in a pan. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat, allowing the seeds to simmer for about 5 minutes. As you notice the color of the water changing, turn off the heat, strain and let cool before consuming.
Cumin seeds and cumin water are safe and not considered to cause any toxicity, even if consumed in large quantities. Cumin water is safe for babies over 6 months. It is recommended to start with 2-3 teaspoons, gradually increasing the quantity to 2-3 tablespoons 2-3 times a week as the baby gets adjusted. Cumin water is also safe for lactating mothers and can help improve milk supply.
- Cumin seeds aren’t recommended for pregnant women or women who are trying to conceive as cumin seeds may cause a miscarriage in some cases.
- Cumin seeds may also reduce fertility in men, if taken in excess.
- Having too much cumin can cause heartburn and hypoglycaemia, so if you notice any of these symptoms, you should cut back on your cumin consumption.