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:

  1. Black cumin stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas.
  2. The spice increases the sensitivity of insulin in liver cells and skeletal muscles.
  3. 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 enhance 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.

Photo: Natural Health 365
Photo: Pexels

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