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  • Writer's pictureDr. Farrukh Chishtie

Zeera: A versatile spice


Mahvish Chishtie

Most Indian traditional foods carry a distinctive taste of that versatile spice called jeera, or cumin seeds. Either it is ground along with other spices and added to the dishes or seasoned with it.

When you go to North Indian homes, you are served Jal Jeera, and the Southern-most state, Kerala, has its own version of Jeera Water (Jeerakavellam). Indian palate is quite accustomed to the wonderful taste of cumin seeds but let us explore what jeera has to offer in terms of health benefits.

Improves Digestion and Increases Metabolism: People in parts of South Asia commonly believe that cumin seeds help with digestion. Research suggests that cumin stimulates the production of enzymes that break down fat, sugar, and starch. It also increases metabolism slightly.

Boosts Immune System: Cumin seeds are a very good source of iron. Just one teaspoon of cumin seeds provides around 7 percent (around 1.3 mg) of the daily value for iron. Iron is a mineral that makes up an important part of hemoglobin, the substance in blood that carries oxygen throughout the body. Additionally, the human body uses iron to enhance the immune system functioning, thus helping the body to fight against contagious diseases. Common Cold, Asthma, Bronchitis: Cumin has been found to be very effective in the treatment of common cold, asthma, and bronchitis. Cumin helps in diluting the phlegm in the chest, thereby helping the body in easy expulsion of it. It is a disinfectant that kills the virus of common cold. The large iron content in cumin strengthens the immune system.

Cures Digestive Disorders: The oil present in cumin stimulates the salivary glands. The thymol present in cumin improves the sluggish digestive process. Taking cumin with a little lukewarm water greatly helps in banishing stomach aches. Additionally, Soaking cumin seeds in water overnight and consuming the water is beneficial while having acidity. It also helps in relieving bloated feeling.

Anti-carcinogenic: Cumin has been proven to help the body fight cancer cells. An animal study found that cumin protects the laboratory animals from developing stomach or liver tumors. This cancer-fighting capability and cancer-protective effect may be due to cumin's potent free radical scavenging abilities.

Pregnancy and Childbirth: Boil water with one tablespoon of cumin seeds. Take this solution daily. This gives good relief from morning sickness. Cumin seeds, taken along with milk and honey, is helpful in the healthy development of fetus, helps with easy childbirth, as well as increases the quantity of breast milk.

Hypoglycemic Properties: A review of various scientific studies published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition in 2005 goes on to confirm that cumin, as well as a number of other spices, does have beneficial effect in treating diabetes.

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