The Health Benefits of Caraway
Facts About Caraway
"Caraway, also known as meridian fennel, or Persian cumin, is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae . . . native to western Asia, Europe and Northern Africa" (Wikipedia). Looking very much like the carrot plant, caraway grows thready, feather-like leaves that are finely divided on stems that are between seven and eleven inches long.
The main flower stem grows between fifteen to twenty-four inches tall and produces pink or white flowers in clusters or umbels. The seeds of the plant are actually the fruit of the flowers. They are crescent-shaped and approximately 2 millimeters long and have pale ridges.
"In the traditional European cuisine, caraway seed is one of the dominant spice featuring in several savory dishes" (Nutrition and You). Grown well in sunny locations, the seeds of this plant are used in many dishes to give food a unique taste because of its pungent flavor. It is a popular addition to many bread recipes, especially rye bread. Besides for bread, you can use caraway in casserole dishes, curries and in other food. In addition to food, you can also find soaps, lotions and perfumes that contain the oil from the seeds.
While your taste buds may like the taste of caraway and your nose love the aroma, your body will love it as well. There are many health benefits to caraway. Not only are the seeds edible, you can also eat the leaves and root as well.
The Health Benefits of Caraway
Caraway contains carminative properties which help prevent the buildup of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. This reduces the likelihood of embarrassing flatulence. Caraway is a pleasing herb for the stomach. It is safe to give to babies and children. Water flavored with this herb is effective in relieving the symptoms of colic. Adding a teaspoon of sugar to this water may give it a more pleasing taste.
Caraway contains flavonoids, lutein, carotene, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. These are all very powerful antioxidants, and you need these to help remove harmful free radicals from your body. Free radicals are unhealthy and damage cells and attack the healthy ones, which leads to cancer, aging, degenerative and neurological diseases and infections. When you include food that contains antioxidants in your diet, you are reducing the chances of acquiring these conditions.
Caraway increases energy by improving the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the entire circulation system. This also gives people, especially athletes, more energy and stamina, but may also help individuals who have a hectic schedule and are feeling fatigued. This spice gives you the edge to get through the day.
Individuals who suffer from poor circulation may have cold hands and feet. This is known as Raynaud's Disease. Since using caraway improves blood circulation, it will make the symptoms of Raynaud's Disease go away. It also helps people who suffer from swollen ankles and feet due to poor circulation. This spice helps by diluting the blood vessels, therefore increasing circulation. You will have warm hands and feet in no time at all.
You can also use caraway externally to warm up your hands and feet since it is considered to be a rubefacient which “produces redness of the skin e.g. by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation"(Wikipedia).
Caraway seeds are a major source of dietary fiber. Four ounces of seeds provides you with 100% of your recommended daily allowance in fiber. "Both soluble as well as insoluble dietary fiber increase bulk of the food and help prevent constipation by speeding up its movement through the gut" (Nutrition and You). Therefore, including caraway in your daily diet allows your body to move food in a quicker amount of time. Foods that are high in fiber help remove toxins from your body by binding to the toxins. Fiber also plays a role in lowering bad cholesterol by binding bile salts which are produced from cholesterol and reduces the risk of them being re-absorbed into the body.
It Is Loaded With Vitamins
Caraway is rich in vitamin A. We need this for optimal health, good vision, strong bones, strong teeth and youthful looking skin.
Caraway contains vitamin E. Applying the essential oils of this herb to your skin are an excellent way to keep is smooth and moist. These oils can help clear up skin conditions such as:
- Canker Sores
Caraway boosts the immune system because it contains vitamin C. If you have a cold or the flu, this herb can help fight the symptoms. You can even prevent yourself from getting sick in the first place by including caraway in your daily diet.
Caraway is a good source of thiamin, or vitamin B1, which helps “helps the body's cells change carbohydrates into energy” (MedlinePlus). This helps speed up metabolism and the rate in which we lose weight. Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, also helps boost your immune system and increases the energy in your body. It also is known for “maintaining healthy hair, skin, mucous membranes, and nails; slowing aging; boosting athletic performance; promoting healthy reproductive function” (WebMD). Vitamin B3, or niacin, also plays a role in turning our food into energy. In addition to this, it helps raise the level of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL).
Caraway contains vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, which is necessary for reducing the risk of getting heart disease, lowering the amount of bad cholesterol in our bodies, unclogging arteries and “reducing blood levels of homocysteine, a chemical that might be linked to heart disease” (WebMD). Higher levels of homocysteine is one of the main causes of damage to the blood vessels and blood clots.
It Is Loaded With Minerals
Caraway is also loaded with a wide variety of minerals. They include:
- Iron: Needed for blood cell formation
- Copper: Needed for the production of red blood cells
- Calcium: Needed for bone strength and healthy cholesterol levels
- Potassium: Needed for controlling heart rate and blood pressure
- Magnesium: Needed for lowering blood pressure
- Manganese: Needed for lowering blood pressure
- Selenium: Needed for overall heart health
- Zinc: Needed for cell growth and development as well as sperm generation, nucleic acid synthesis and digestion.
Where to Purchase Caraway
You can purchase caraway year-round at your local grocery food store. It is found in the spice aisle. While you can buy it in at a ground spice, it is better to purchase whole caraway seeds. Usually, the powdered spices lose some of their health benefits during the process and become adulterated. Whether you purchase the seeds or a spice, you can keep it for a long time as long as you store them in a cool dark place. Make sure to keep it in a sealed jar so they do not lose their flavor.
While caraway is safe for children to take, always talk to your child's pediatrician before using it to treat them of any illnesses and conditions. Never use the essential oils on children under two years of age since these oils can irritate the skin.
Before using caraway to treat any illnesses and conditions, talk to your doctor. Caraway may interact with other medications and supplements that you may be already taking.
- Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6): Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning
Learn more about Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) uses, effectiveness, possible side effects, interactions, dosage, user ratings and products that contain Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
- Caraway seed nutrition facts, medicinal properties and health benefits
Traditionally Caraway seed used as carminative and anti-flatulent. Caraway has a warm, sweet and slightly peppery aroma that comes from unique essential oils in them. The seeds endowed with many beneficial minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
- Medical Encyclopedia: MedlinePlus
- Rubefacient - Wikipedia
- Caraway - Wikipedia
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2019 Lois Ryan