Cumin is one of the most popular culinary spices in the world. It has also been used in traditional medicine for numerous conditions.
What if cumin can be used to help with weight loss and maintenance? Recent research has shown that it certainly can be, even going as far as to show that it’s as effective as a billion dollar weight loss drug!
Cumin vs No Cumin
In 2014, a randomised trial looked at the effect of cumin on body composition and cholesterol levels and found promising results. A group of overweight or obese women were assigned to either an experimental group or a control group.
The experimental group was asked to have 1.5 grams of cumin powder with yogurt at two meals (total 3 grams per day) for 3 months. The control group was asked to have the same amount of yogurt per day but was not asked to have cumin powder with it.
Both groups received ongoing nutritional counselling for weight loss throughout the study.
While we can expect that both groups would lose weight due to ongoing professional counselling, the Cumin group had significantly more favourable health benefits at the end.
Compared to the Control group, the Cumin group reduced their:
Body Composition [Cumin vs Control]
- Weight on average by 6.20 kgs (13.67 lbs) vs 4.19 kgs (9.24 lbs)
- Body Mass Index (BMI) by 2.35 kg/m2 vs 1.31 kg/m2
- Waist circumference by 8.02 cm vs 5.94 cm
- Fat mass by 5.51 kg vs 3.75 kg
Cholesterol Levels [Cumin vs Control]
- Triglyceride levels by 23.06 vs 5.04 mg/dL
- Cholesterol levels by 26.48 vs 0.88 mg/dL
- Low density lipoprotein – LDL (bad cholesterol) by 9.62 vs gain of 0.44 mg/dL
- Fasting blood sugars by 5.95 vs 3.82 mg/dL
The cumin group also increased their High density lipoprotein – HDL (good cholesterol) by 1.84 mg/dL compared to a reduction in good cholesterol in the Control group of 0.82 mg/dL.
Essentially, in terms of body composition, the study found that supplementing with cumin significantly reduced weight, BMI, waist circumference and body fat. Cumin powder also reduced bad cholesterols levels while improving the good cholesterol (HDL) level of the participants.
The study also found that cumin did not cause any change to fat-free mass (for example: muscles). This means that the weight loss was likely only fat being stripped away!
For those interested, here are the results tabled:
Nature vs Pharmaceuticals
Orlistat is the most popular weight loss drug in the world with billions of dollars in sales since its release. One reason why it became less popular in recent times is because of common and not so pleasant side effects such as leakage of oily stools, diarrhoea, gas and abdominal pain.
So how does all-natural cumin fare against a drug worth billions of dollars?
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial compared three groups of overweight/obese individuals taking either cumin, Orlistat or placebo capsules for 8 weeks.
- The placebo group gained 200 grams of weight on average
- The Orlistat group lost 0.9 kilograms on average
- The Cumin group lost 1.1 kilograms on average
The changes in weight and BMI are tabled:
The Cumin Group was able to lose more weight than the Orlistat group in this study.
Keep in mind that billions of dollars have been spent on the drug Orlistat. We have read that it costs $138 USD per month to fund its usage. Cumin has the same or potentially better effect on bodyweight and cost only a few cents per day!
Additionally, cumin is very safe to consume with our meals. Orlistat, however, has numerous drug side effects including a common one that has made the drug a little less popular: oily/fatty or liquid faecal/stool spotting on people’s underwear. Other common side effects include diarrhoea, bowel urgency, flatulence and abdominal pain. We definitely know which one we prefer!
Including a small amount of grounded cumin into our meals is an easy way to get our daily doses. There are numerous ways to implement it and we only need about half a teaspoon twice a day to reap its benefits!
We love using cumin in our curries, soups, rice, falafels and vegan yoghurt dips! Do let us know how you like to have your cumin, we’d love to know!
Keep In Mind
As always, we should keep in mind that a whole food plant-based lifestyle with regular exercise and mindfulness is the first priority in achieving our health and wellness goals. Adding or excluding specific foods may help us achieve our goals sooner but they should not be the focus of our approach!
- Zare R, Heshmati F, Fallahzadeh H, Nadjarzadeh A. Effect of cumin powder on body composition and lipid profile in overweight and obese women. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2014;20(4):297‐301. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25456022/
- Taghizadeh M, Memarzadeh MR, Asemi Z, Esmaillzadeh A. Effect of the cumin cyminum L. Intake on Weight Loss, Metabolic Profiles and Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress in Overweight Subjects: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Ann Nutr Metab. 2015;66(2-3):117‐124. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25766448/