Caraway seeds were once mixed into concoctions by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to keep wandering lovers in check and give young lasses rosy cheeks. From the tales of yore to present day research, caraway seeds have traveled far, from love potions to kitchen spice and to medicinal plant. In India and other parts of Asia, caraway seeds are a staple ingredient in dishes, used in chutneys and curries, added to drinks and tonics or as a garnish. The seeds have an aromatic scent and sharp flavor, making them ideal for cooking or baking.
The caraway plant grows in north and central Europe, Western Asia and the Himalayan region of India. Of the plant itself, the commonly used parts are the seeds. The seeds are tiny, brown, narrow and elongated pistils. Caraway seeds are hard with pointed ends. From the seeds, the essential oil contains the terpenes ketone, carvone, limonene and carvacrol is extracted. Terpenes are organic compounds from plants that have medicinal functions and biological actions.
Nutrients in Caraway Seeds
Caraway seeds are a powerhouse of macro and micronutrients. They are a rich source of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fiber; 100 grams of caraway seeds has 333 Kcalories and no cholesterol. Caraway seeds contain the B vitamins folate, niacin, pyridoxine, thiamine and riboflavin, as well as vitamins A, C, E and K. They supply abundant amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, manganese and zinc and the antioxidants beta-carotene, beta cryptoxanthin and lutein zeaxanthin.
The benefits from caraway seeds and the oil derived from them are numerous and they are used to treat a wide variety of diseases and relieve symptoms. The most notable role of caraway seeds is its use in the treatment of indigestion and flatulence. These conditions are usually caused by smoking, excessive drinking and use of certain prescription drugs. Eating foods that are high in acidic content also contribute to indigestion and hyperacidity.
Caraway Seeds for Abdominal Conditions
Caraway seeds and their potent oil contain carvone and limonene, which have long been used in Ayurvedic medicine for gastrointestinal problems and other disease conditions. Its potent components of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants work singly or combine with each other to enhance the body’s immunity, prevent diseases or alleviate the symptoms of certain conditions. Caraway seeds have been shown to:
Relieve flatulence and its resulting colic by drinking a cup of tea made from the caraway seeds. The tea is brewed by boiling a teaspoon of the seeds in a liter of water, letting simmer over slow fire for 15 minutes, then straining it. Taken three times a day after meals, the tea cures flatulence.
Prevent constipation; one hundred grams of caraway seeds provide 38 grams of fiber, increasing the bulk of stool and easing its passage through the intestines.
Remove hookworm from the intestines, since caraway seeds are an anti-parasitic.
Ease dental pain in teeth and gums.
Work as an expectorant, encouraging the expulsion of sputum from cough.
The minerals in caraway seeds and their essential oil helps to normalize important body functions:
Copper and iron are needed in the production and formation of red blood cells.
Potassium regulates heart rate and blood pressure.
Calcium helps with heart muscle contraction and the development of strong bones and teeth.
Zinc is necessary for wound healing, cell metabolism, DNA and RNA building and boosting the immune system.
The antioxidants in caraway seeds -- beta carotene, cryptoxanthin and lutein -- scavenge free radicals and protect against cellular damage. They lower the risk for cancers and slow down the aging process, including age-related diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
There are no reported adverse side effects of using caraway seed supplements in normal dosage. However, consuming excessive amounts of caraway seed oil for an extended period of time may cause kidney or liver damage.
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