Cumin and Black Cumin might be both… well, cumin, but these two have their distinctive differences. Both types derive from the Apiaceae genus, both are safe for human consumption and is a popular spice in Latin-America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and India for quite a lot of traditional regional dishes. So what sets them apart?
Cumin originates in the Mediterranean and used as both a spice and a medicine by ancient Romans. Cumin also has preservative qualities, making it common in meats like sausage to make it last longer before it expires.
Cumin can also be used for medicinal purposes, one of the earliest instances in India where it is used to enhance digestive health or boiled in water to be used as a medicine for edema, heart disease, stomach uneasiness, vomiting and fever. Cumin can also be used to soothe intestinal spasms and help remove stomach gas.
The natural substance that is found in cumin seeds is called cuminaldehyde, which gives them it’s taste that is nutty, peppery and slightly bitterness. I contains really potent antioxidants which has been found through studies to prevent foodborne illnesses and improve symptoms with IBS patients.
There are actually two different types of black cumin which are two different plants – the Bunium Bulbocastanum and Nigella sativa, both of which are prized for their medicinal qualities.
Bunium Bulbocastanum is native in parts of North Africa, southeastern Europe and South Asia. This type of black cumin, more commonly known as black zira/soil chestnut, grows up to approximately two feet, and bears white flowers. It’s leaves can be used as a herb, the roots as a food and the seeds for it’s medicinal purposes. It can be used to fight certain bacterial infections that are not healed as well with antibiotics as well as possibly reducing complication effects that comes with diabetes due to oxidation and glycation.
Nigella Sativa on the other hand is more extensively researched and it’s benefits are scientifically backed. More commonly known by it’s alternate name “black seed”, it is found in the same regions as Bunium Bulbocastanum. It grows much taller up to three feet and looks different as well, having smaller pale flowers and pods filled with seeds, which are black as coal and are matte or dull. It has been proven by various studies to reduce the size of cancerous tumors, assists Alzheimer’s patients in improving memory and cognition and reduces nasal allergy symptoms. It is also believed to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s and other similar neurodegenerative diseases.