Nigella damascena seeds 2020

12 Interesting Facts About Nigella Seed

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Nigella seeds, sometimes called black cumin or black seeds, are tiny black seeds with a unique flavor and culinary and medicinal uses. Here are 12 fascinating facts about this versatile ingredient.

1. Nigella seeds are not seeds

Although they are commonly referred to as seeds, nigella seeds are tiny dried fruit capsules that contain small black seeds inside. The dried capsule is used whole as a spice.

2. They have been used since ancient times

Archaeological evidence shows nigella seeds were found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb and are mentioned in ancient Islamic and Arabic texts. They have a very long history of use as both a culinary spice and an herbal medicine.

3. Nigella seeds have many names

This ingredient goes by many names, including black cumin, black caraway, Roman coriander, onion seed, fennel flower, and kalonji. This causes much confusion with other spices.

4. They are used in many cuisines

Nigella seeds are used in Indian, Middle Eastern, and North African cuisines. They add flavor to curries, lentils, pilafs, breads, and more. Their aromatic, slightly bitter taste works well in many savory dishes.

5. Nigella seeds may have health benefits

Studies have shown nigella seeds have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties. They may also help lower blood pressure and blood sugar. Much more research is still needed, however.

6. The main active compound is thymoquinone

Nigella seeds owe many of their health benefits to thymoquinone, their main active compound. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects.

7. You can cook with nigella seeds

To bring out their flavor, dry roast nigella seeds briefly before adding them to dishes. Then add them directly to lentils, curries, bread doughs, vegetable dishes, and more. They add crunch and a sharp, onion-like taste.

8. Nigella seed oil is also used

Nigella seed oil, made by pressing the seeds, is taken as a supplement due to its high concentration of thymoquinone. It can also be used for massage oil and skin care.

9. The seeds come from a flowering plant

Nigella seeds come from the pods of the Nigella sativa plant, which has delicate, pale blue or white flowers. It is an annual plant belonging to the Ranunculaceae family.

10. The plant may have originated in Turkey

Some evidence suggests the cultivation of nigella seeds began in ancient Turkey. From there, their use likely spread to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. The seeds grow well throughout this region.

11. Nigella seeds can be toxic in high doses

Consuming too many nigella seeds may cause headaches, vomiting, and blurred vision. Their long-term safety has not been well studied. It’s best to use small amounts as a spice.

12. Many traditional claims remain unproven

While traditional medicine systems tout nigella seeds as a “cure-all,” modern research has not substantiated most of these claims. Still, they show promise for certain health conditions. More studies are needed.

Nigella seeds are a fascinating traditional ingredient with a rich history. Their sharp, nutty flavor allows them to easily enhance many savory dishes. While their medicinal effects require more research, adding small amounts to your cooking can provide a tasty health boost.


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