Nigella seeds or kalonji seeds are most commonly called black cumin seeds. They are considered an important ingredient in Indian cuisine and they are mainly used for flavouring vegetable curry, dal and other savoury dishes. It is an interesting spice that gives a beautiful aroma to the dishes.
Apart from the aroma and flavour, black cumin seeds come with a whole lot of health benefits. These seeds are loaded with vitamins, proteins, crude fibre, iron, sodium, potassium, calcium, fatty acids like linoleic acid and oleic acid, amino acids and volatile oils.
Black cumin seeds are widely used in ayurveda. They possess therapeutic properties such as immunopotentiation, bronchodilatation, and being antitumour, antihistaminic, antidiabetic, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, and gastroprotective, which are attributed to the quinone constituents in the seeds.
100 g of black cumin seeds contain 345 calories.
Let's take a look at the health benefits of black cumin seeds below.
1. Strengthens Immunity
Black cumin seeds contain volatile oils and essential vitamins and minerals which when consumed daily boost your immune system. These seeds are also known to relieve chest and nasal congestion and bring relief from sinusitis when the seeds are added in boiling water and the steam is inhaled. Or you can drink a mixture of black cumin seed oil, honey and warm water as well.
2. Prevents Stomach Ulcers
Ulcers form in the stomach when the acids in the stomach eat away the layer of protective mucous that forms the lining of the stomach. These painful sores can be prevented by consuming Nigella seeds. Research studies show that black cumin seeds preserve the lining of the stomach and prevent stomach ulcers formation. The study  showed the effectiveness of black cumin seeds in healing stomach ulcers.
3. Prevents Cancer
Black cumin seeds are high in antioxidants that fight against the harmful free radicals that contribute to the development of diseases like cancer. The seeds have potential anticancer effects due to an active compound called thymoquinone. A study  has found that thymoquinone causes cell death in blood cancer cells, breast cancer cells, pancreatic, lung, cervical, skin, colon and prostate cancer cells.
4. Promotes Liver Health
The liver is an important organ of the body and its main functions are to remove toxins, process nutrients, proteins and chemicals that are crucial for the overall well-being. Kalonji seeds or black cumin seeds reduce the toxicity of the chemicals and protect the liver from damage and injury according to a study  .
5. Promotes Heart Health
Heart is another vital organ of the body which is why it is very important to keep your heart healthy. The active compound thymoquinone in black cumin seeds possesses heart-protective qualities which aid to curb damages linked to heart attacks and strokes, thereby boosting cardiovascular health. It lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol, according to a research study .
6. Prevents Diabetes
Diabetes is a fast-growing disease which disables the body to regulate insulin levels, that further leads to tissue damage and organ failure. Kalonji seeds are considered an effective medicine for curing diabetes naturally. They are known to contain fixed oils, alkaloids and essential oils like thymoquinone and thymohydroquinone. The seed extracts help to inhibit the absorption of glucose in the intestines and improve glucose tolerance  .
7. Boosts Memory And Cognitive Function
The loss of ability of memory and learning is a characteristic of dementia, which affects millions of people due to either neurodegenerative diseases or brain injury. The black cumin seeds play a potential role in facilitating memory and learning, according to a study  . The active compound thymoquinone in Nigella seeds can treat damaged brain neural tissue as well.
8. Reduces High Blood Pressure
Black cumin seeds have been used as a traditional remedy for many diseases. The intake of black cumin seeds has shown positive effects in those whose blood pressure is mildly elevated, according to a study .
9. Improves Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Black cumin seeds benefit people who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and aids in treating it, according to a study published in the journal Immunological Investigations. The Nigella seeds have anti-inflammatory properties which have been shown to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study  .
10. Prevents Asthma And Allergies
Black cumin seeds have antiasthmatic effects on asthma and allergies. The intake of black cumin seeds by mouth along with asthma medicines can improve coughing, wheezing, and lung function in some people with asthma  .
11. Prevents Obesity
The study  showed how black cumin seeds reduce the development of obesity in women. The result of the study concluded that it reduces weight, waist circumference and triglyceride levels.
12. Promotes Oral Health
It is very important to maintain your oral health. If oral health is not taken care of, it may lead to plaque build-up, cavities, bleeding gums, gingivitis, gums swelling and periodontitis. Kalonji seeds have been proven to be effective in treating dental diseases  .
13. Good For Hair
The oil of black cumin seeds possesses anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial and analgesic properties that work in preserving scalp health. It prevents scalp problems like dandruff and helps to moisturise the scalp. The presence of thymoquinone in black seed oil stimulates hair regrowth, curbs hairfall, and prevents hair greying. Thus, kalonji seed oil can be used for all hair problems.
Nigella seeds are known for their diverse culinary uses and therapeutic properties which make them a valuable treatment for a variety of ailments. Use the seeds in flavouring foods but, ensure that you check with your doctor before ingesting supplements and black cumin seed oil.
-  Kanter, M. (2005). Gastroprotective activity of Nigella sativa L oil and its constituent, thymoquinone against acute alcohol-induced gastric mucosal injury in rats. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 11(42), 6662.
-  El-Mahdy, M. A., Zhu, Q., Wang, Q.-E., Wani, G., & Wani, A. A. (2005). Thymoquinone induces apoptosis through activation of caspase-8 and mitochondrial events in p53-null myeloblastic leukemia HL-60 cells. International Journal of Cancer, 117(3), 409–417.
-  Yildiz, F., Coban, S., Terzi, A., Ates, M., Aksoy, N., Cakir, H., … Bitiren, M. (2008). Nigella sativa relieves the deleterious effects of ischemia reperfusion injury on liver. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 14(33), 5204-5209
-  Sahebkar, A., Beccuti, G., Simental-Mendía, L. E., Nobili, V., & Bo, S. (2016). Nigella sativa (black seed) effects on plasma lipid concentrations in humans: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Pharmacological Research, 106, 37–50.
-  Daryabeygi-Khotbehsara, R., Golzarand, M., Ghaffari, M. P., & Djafarian, K. (2017). Nigella sativa improves glucose homeostasis and serum lipids in type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 35, 6–13.
-  Sahak, M. K. A., Kabir, N., Abbas, G., Draman, S., Hashim, N. H., & Hasan Adli, D. S. (2016). The Role ofNigella sativaand Its Active Constituents in Learning and Memory. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016, 1–6.
-  Fallah Huseini, H., Amini, M., Mohtashami, R., Ghamarchehre, M. E., Sadeqhi, Z., Kianbakht, S., & Fallah Huseini, A. (2013). Blood Pressure Lowering Effect of Nigella sativa L. Seed Oil in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial. Phytotherapy Research, 27(12), 1849–1853.
-  Hadi, V., Kheirouri, S., Alizadeh, M., Khabbazi, A., & Hosseini, H. (2016). Effects of Nigella sativa oil extract on inflammatory cytokine response and oxidative stress status in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, 6(1), 34–43.
-  Koshak, A., Koshak, E., & Heinrich, M. (2017). Medicinal benefits of Nigella sativa in bronchial asthma: A literature review. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, 25(8), 1130–1136.
-  Mahdavi, R., Namazi, N., Alizadeh, M., & Farajnia, S. (2015). Effects of Nigella sativa oil with a low-calorie diet on cardiometabolic risk factors in obese women: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Food & Function, 6(6), 2041–2048.
-  AlAttas, S., Zahran, F., & Turkistany, S. (2016). Nigella sativa and its active constituent thymoquinone in oral health. Saudi Medical Journal, 37(3), 235–244.
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