A Spice that Lowers Blood Glucose Levels: Black Cumin
Evidence is mounting that consuming black cumin helps to manage type 2 diabetes.
The spice lowered blood glucose levels and blocked AGE glycation for most diabetics in research studies.
Black cumin (Nigella sativa) also contains phytonutrients, protein, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, and minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, phosphorous and zinc.
Black Cumin: Past and Present
The thin, dark, crescent-shaped black cumin seeds belong to the buttercup family. Whether toasted or ground to a powder, the seeds are used to season cuisine around the world. The black cumin plant also has a centuries-long resume of medicinal uses:
- Physicians attending Egyptian pharaohs treated upset stomachs, colds, headaches, toothaches and infections with black cumin.
- Black cumin oil was reportedly on Queen Nefertiti’s vanity table, likely because it strengthens nails and hair, giving them a healthy sheen.
- Modern studies show black cumin has many health benefits such as boosting the immune system, treating respiratory ailments, calming the nervous system and lowering blood pressure.
Black Cumin and Diabetes
In animal research, black cumin was shown to lower blood glucose levels in a few ways:
- Black cumin stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas.
- The spice increases the sensitivity of insulin in liver cells and skeletal muscles.
- It raises glucose absorption by muscular tissue.
In one recent study, diabetes patients lowered their fasting glucose levels after consuming 2 grams of black cumin seeds every day for four to six weeks. (One teaspoon of a spice is equal to 3-4 grams.)
The spice’s ability to lower glucose is attributed to a phytonutrient called thymoquinone. Although black cumin cannot replace diabetes medication, it may be a beneficial adjunct to prescription treatments.
Cooking with Black Cumin
People describe the flavor of black cumin as nutty, thyme-like, or similar to a thyme-oregano combination. Adding a teaspoon to gravies, chili and soups enhances the flavor (keep in mind that cumin is a strong spice and adding too much may overpower other flavors). Toasted cumin seeds can be sprinkled over vegetable dishes and tossed into a salad. Try scattering some seeds on fish before broiling or baking, or add a spoonful to lentils as they cook.
Recipe: Cumin, Lime and Garlic Grilled Chicken
- 2-3 lbs chicken pieces, on the bone
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp garlic salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 21 oz can Bush’s Texas Ranchero Grillin’ Beans
- Put the chicken pieces and other ingredients in a large zip-top bag. Shake to mix and coat the chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes (up to 24 hours).
- Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill to medium heat. Grease the grill.
- Place chicken on the grill, grilling both sides until the meat is cooked through (breasts take about 12 minutes per side, drumsticks 6 minutes per side).
- Serve with your favorite variety of Bush’s Grillin’ Beans.