Caraway seeds: properties and health benefits

Given its spicy flavor and anise-like aroma, caraway seeds are often used as a condiment. However, this is not the only use that is given to the parts of the plant.

Caraway o Carum carvi It is a rustic plant native to Europe, Western Asia and North Africa that stands out for having bright green leaves, white and pink flowers and fruits with ellipsoid shape of between 3 and 6 millimeters.

However, in traditional medicine it is used as a carminative, that is, a substance or medicine that prevents the formation of gases and favors their expulsion from the digestive tract. We show you in detail other of the properties and benefits of this natural remedy.

Properties of caraway

Caraway seeds are characterized by being low in calories, but rich in nutrients such as iron, magnesium and phosphorus. In general, a tablespoon of seeds (6 grams) contains the following:

  • Calories: 21.6.
  • Carbohydrates: 3.2 grams.
  • Protein: 1.3 grams.
  • Fat: 0.9 grams.
  • Fiber: 2.5 grams.
  • Iron: 1.1 milligrams (6% of the Daily Value or DV).
  • Calcium: 44.8 milligrams (4% of the DV).
  • Magnesium: 16.8 milligrams (4% of the DV).
  • Phosphorus: 36.9 milligrams (4% of the DV).
  • Manganese: 0.1 milligrams (4% of the DV).
  • Potassium: 87.8 milligrams (3% of the DV).
  • Copper: 0.1 milligrams (3% of the DV).

These seeds are also a source of vitamin B3, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, choline, zinc, and selenium. Furthermore, there is scientific evidence that caraway contains a large number of antioxidants, among which limonene and carvone stand out.

Read also: What is vitamin A?

Benefits attributed to it

In Ayurvedic Medicine or Traditional Indian Medicine caraway seeds are used to detoxify the body, facilitate digestion and improve circulation. Let's see what benefits these seeds provide according to science.

The carminative use of these seeds is the best known, but there are other possible benefits that science investigates.

1. Reduce inflammation

Although inflammation is a natural response of the immune system, if it occurs chronically it can lead to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This is characterized by digestive ulcers and symptoms such as gas and diarrhea.

According to research published in Natural Products and Bioprospecting, caraway has active ingredients that give it antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

In fact, a study in rodents with IBD showed that the extract and essential oil of this plant can reduce inflammation of the colon as would specialized drugs. However, human research is still needed.

2. Improve digestion

When it comes to digestive problems, caraway is one of the most widely used herbal remedies. According to a study published in Neurogastroenterology and Motility, this plant relaxes the muscular tissue of the intestinal canal, which prevents symptoms of indigestion.

Experts say that this is due to the action of the antimicrobials present in caraway. A test tube study found that the oil of this plant is able to prevent the growth of harmful intestinal bacteria and preserve those that are beneficial.

Another test-tube study found that caraway extract can fight bacteria Helicobacter pylori, recognized for causing gastric ulcers and intestinal inflammation. However, more research in humans is needed.

3. Facilitate weight loss

According to a 90-day study, taking 1 ounce of a caraway oil solution daily can significantly reduce weight, body mass index (BMI), and fat percentage. Research in women also exposed a decrease in total calorie and carbohydrate intake.

According to the researchers, this is due to a series of positive changes in the behavior of intestinal bacteria It could affect hormonal regulation, metabolism, and appetite. However, it is necessary to clarify that the study has not finished yet.

4. Help fight cancer

As we have seen, caraway seeds are rich in antioxidants, substances that protect cells from free radicals and, therefore, reduce the risk of developing complex chronic diseases.

Now, it is believed that its high content of these compounds can help fight cancer. A study in rodents showed that following a supplementation with caraway extract is capable of improving the levels of antioxidants and preventing lesions caused by colon cancer.

Likewise, another study in animals showed that the intake of caraway seeds can prevent the growth of tumor cells in the colonic areaBut more research in humans is still needed. On the other hand, there are no certain conclusions to suggest this medicinal plant as a first-line approach in oncology.

5. Prevent seizures

Caraway seeds may prevent seizures. According to research published in Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences, the consumption of extracts and essential oils made with these seeds decreased different types of epileptic seizures in rodents. However, studies are limited, so more research is required to certify these effects in humans.

6. Stabilize blood sugar levels

Adding caraway seeds to your diet can help control blood glucose levels. According to research in diabetic rodents, consuming an extract is capable of lowering blood sugar levels.

In general, these effects are believed to be due to fiber, as there is scientific evidence that the substance can slow down its intestinal absorption.

Uses of caraway seeds

Despite being less known than other spices, caraway stands out for its culinary uses. Its seeds are usually used to a greater extent in confectionery, adding to muffins, cookies and muffins. Given their bitter taste, which can be spicy, they are also an ingredient in fruit-based sweets, such as cakes, jams, jellies and custards.

As for salty foods, you can find them in breads (such as rye), soups, stews and sauces. In the same way, they are used as a seasoning in the preparation of roasted, pickled and fermented vegetables. Now if we talk about drinks, caraway is used in the production of liqueurs, since it has an aroma similar to that of anise.

Caraway is used culinary, but you can also prepare infusions for medicinal purposes.

Contraindications of caraway seeds

Caraway is a plant that can be found in different presentations: fruit, seeds, capsules, essential oils and extracts. Although an exact dose has not been established, there is scientific evidence that 2% diluted oil formulas are safe for skin.

Similarly, there is research to suggest that 1/2 or 1 teaspoon of caraway divided into 3 daily doses may be safe and provide the benefits mentioned.

On the other hand, healthy people can ingest or use caraway topically without side effects. However, there is not enough research to support its safety, so it should be avoided in children, pregnant and lactating women.

As well its use should be restricted in the case of a person with liver dysfunction, since previous research shows that this plant can prevent the emptying of the gallbladder. In any case, the recommendation is to consult with your doctor before consuming them.

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What to remember about caraway seeds?

The caraway is a plant native to Europe, Asia and Africa that stands out for its leaves, fruits and seeds. The latter are considered a nutrient-dense food, that is, they high in iron, magnesium, and zinc, but low in calories.

Similarly, it is credited with benefits such as decreasing inflammation, improving digestion, stimulating weight loss, preventing seizures, and controlling blood sugar levels.

Most of its uses are linked to cooking and, although it is considered safe, there is not enough research regarding its adverse effects. For this reason, children, pregnant and lactating women, and patients with liver failure should avoid them.