Cumin May Be Helpful for Diabetics

Two health benefits that may be of particular interest to a majority of people are its anti-diabetic and anti-asthmatic effects. In one 2010 study, black cumin seeds were found to improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. Here, the seeds were used in conjunction with regular anti-diabetic medications. Nintety-four patients were randomly divided into three groups receiving different doses of the cumin seeds; either one, two, or three grams per day, for three months.

The group receiving two grams of cumin seeds per day saw the greatest improvement, reducing their blood glucose by an average of 62 mg/dl at eight weeks. The lower- and higher-dose groups also experienced reductions in blood glucose, but none as great as those receiving the two gram/day dose. The authors concluded that:

"The results of this study indicate that a dose of 2 gm/ day of Nigella sativa might be a beneficial adjuvant to oral hypoglycemic agents in type 2 diabetic patients."

A study published earlier this year concluded that black cumin's anti-diabetic effects appear to be rooted in its ability to improve insulin sensitivity.

Another common spice of particular interest to diabetics is cinnamon, which also has "insulin-like" effects. For example, just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day has been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes. In another earlier study, cinnamon was found to increase glucose metabolism 20-fold! Many believe it's a very viable contender in the fight against diabetes.

Cumin has Potent Anti-Asthma Effects

A number of studies have also indicated that cumin may be helpful for asthmatics. Here are three of the most recent studies confirming cumin's anti-asthmatic effects:

Black cumin seeds and its oils have historically been used to treat respiratory diseases, including asthma. In one study, thymoquinone (TQ), one of the primary active ingredients in cumin seeds, was found to be instrumental, by reducing two inflammatory mediators of asthma and other inflammatory processes.Another study from last year confirmed the anti-asthmatic effect of black cumin seeds, showing it acts as a bronchodilator. Here, the researchers used a boiled extract of the cumin seeds.According to research published in 2009, black cumin seeds also act as a relaxant, and display both anticholinergic (reducing spasms in smooth muscle) and antihistaminic (blocking allergic reactions) effects. In this study, the thymoquinone (TQ) in black cumin seeds was found to be superior to the asthma drug fluticasone (a synthetic glucocorticoid)!General Health Benefits of Herbs and Spices—A Little Can Go a Long Way!

It may be helpful to know that herbs and spices are actually some of the most potent antioxidants in your food supply; in many instances surpassing other more well-known sources of antioxidants. For example, spices such as cloves and cinnamon have phenol levels that are 30 percent and 18 percent of dry weight, respectively. Compare that to blueberries, which are widely touted for their antioxidant capabilities; they contain roughly five percent phenol by dry weight...

Another example is oregano, which has 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges, and four times more than blueberries! One tablespoon of fresh oregano contains the same antioxidant activity as one medium-sized apple. I personally love oregano and grow it in my garden every year, as it is a perennial plant and faithfully comes back. It is easy to harvest in late summer and fall, and dehydrate and store for future use.

While each spice has a unique set of health benefits to offer, one study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, found a direct correlation between the antioxidant phenol content and the spice's ability to inhibit glycation and the formation of AGE compounds, making them potent preventers of heart disease and premature aging.According to this study, the top 10 most potent herbs and spices are:

Cloves (ground)Cinnamon (ground)Jamaican allspice (ground)Apple pie spice (mixture)Oregano (ground)Pumpkin pie spice (mixture)MarjoramSageThymeGourmet Italian spice

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