Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)

Cumin is a flowering plant in the Apiaceae family, native from the east Mediterranean to South Asia. Its seeds are used in the cuisines of many different cultures, in both whole and ground form.1 Cumin’s nutrient profile includes amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and is an excellent source of iron.8 Cumin contains thymoquinone, unique only to this plant, which is a phytochemical with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.11 “That means it has the potential to help any chronic disease where there’s an excess of inflammation,” Dr. Lipi Roy, an internal medicine doctor at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.10 In one study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, when compared with a placebo group, patients found cumin oil was effectively in reducing pain, swelling and morning stiffness after daily use for one month.8

Cumin safety profile is good. Adverse reactions were reported in two studies when people experienced skin irritation for using cumin oil topically. Cumin seed is safe during pregnancy, but the supplement form should be avoided due to its ability to produce uterine contractions.8

In culinary use, cumin has a mild nutty, toasty taste which can be added to vegetables, beans, sauces, and soups.8

Photograph showing cumin seeds

One tablespoon of cumin seed contains:1
22 calories
1.3 grams of fat
2.7 grams sugar
1.1 grams protein
0.6 grams of fiber
5% magnesium
5% calcium
22% iron