No-one is a stranger to the magical spice of kalonji or nigella seeds, yet its many health benefits can still amaze us. So, read on to know why you should add kalonji to your diet.


What are nigella seeds?


Nigella seeds, also known as black cumin, black sesame seed, or black onion seed is a seed of the nigella sativa plant, found in parts of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. It is a common spice of the traditional Pakistani, Indian, Mediterranean, and North African recipes. Its crunch and aromatic flavor are particularly useful in pastries and breads.


In caloric terms, one teaspoon of black seed oil has only 45 calories, 5 grams of fat, no protein, carbohydrates of fiber content. It is a good source of calcium, zinc, copper, iron, niacin, phosphorus and thiamin. The main antioxidants in kalonji seeds are thymoquinone.


Kalonji seeds—aid in weight loss


Everyone wants to control their weight, and this is one way you can eat your way to weight loss! Kalonji seeds are full of phytochemicals, including phytosterols that have a wide range of therapeutic effects including weight loss. The exact mechanism how they do it is still unclear though.


Nigella seeds suppress hunger by satiating the taste buds; specific genes related to fat loss and appetite control are also expressed by kalonji seeds. In a review of 11 studies, close to 800 people showed a weight loss of 4.6 pounds over a period of 6 to 12 weeks when given nigella seed oil and powder, in comparison to placebo. Both the participating groups also made lifestyle and dietary modifications.


Additionally, the antioxidant enzymes in the seeds control obesity, and control uninhibited cell growth. Thus, their antioxidant effect is particularly useful in saving one from cancerous growths as well as weight gain.


For weight loss, kalonji seeds should be consumed raw—about 3 mg in a spoon, and swallowed with warm water. This should be followed by a spoonful of natural honey. Pregnant women, however, should not take nigella seeds.


Kalonji seeds—decrease the risk of heart disease


Kalonji seeds are beneficial in reducing heart attack risk as they lower the levels of C-reactive protein—an inflammatory indicator.  Research shows, this effect is also seen in people with obesity as per the body mass index (BMI).


Due to its beneficial effect on the blood vessels, it can mitigate high blood pressure and serum fat levels. Using kalonji seed oils and powders significantly lowered blood pressure in more than 11 researches. This effect is seen after about eight weeks of use, in both normotensive and hypertensive people.


Kalonji can increase the serum levels of good fat—known as HDL or high-density lipoproteins, while simultaneously lowering the levels of bad fat—known as LDL or low-density lipoprotein. This effect is pronounced in people with diabetes, hypertension, obesity as well as the healthy population. In comparison to kalonji powder, the oil is more effective for increasing the HDLs.


Kalonji seeds—improve serum glucose levels


Unmanaged or high serum glucose levels are the consequence of type 2 diabetes in which the body’s insulin-producing cells are exhausted or the cells fail to respond to it. This high blood sugar, in turn can have negative impact on the heart, kidneys, and eyes in particular; in fact, every organ of the body is impacted due to uncontrolled high blood glucose. Kalonji seeds can lower the fasting blood glucose in patients with type II diabetes and also improve the everyday serum glucose by slowing the absorption of glucose in the blood from the intestines.


Data suggests that the consumption of kalonji seed oil and powder showed great impact on the HBA1c, the marker of average blood sugar level and the fasting blood glucose. For managing the blood sugar levels, 1 to 3 grams of powder and 3 to 5 ml of oil should be consumed every day.


Kalonji seeds—combat inflammatory disorders


The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of kalonji seeds are well proven. The active ingredients allow the smooth muscles to relax, and the inflammatory mediators to lower; this helps lower the odds of all inflammatory diseases.


Animal studies show that inflammation of the brain—neuroinflammation, is also diminished with the nigella seeds. Neuroinflammation contributes to degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Thus, kalonji seeds have potential for decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s but more human studies are needed for confirmation.


What are the risks of kalonji seeds powder and oil?


In small doses, kalonji seed oil and powder intake is safe. However, if taken in large quantities there are mild side effects. Certain people with digestive issues complain of nausea and bloating after consuming black seed. Moreover, it may also interfere with medication and their metabolism. Therefore, supplements like kalonji should be started only after consultation with a healthcare professional.


How to add nigella seeds to the food?


Nigella seeds are quite tasty and can be used for flavoring dishes like curries and lentil, as well as added to salads and stir fries for crunch. Kalonji seeds when added to naan bread before baking add a lot of flavor and aroma. It can also be added to humus to give it a smoky flavor.


Opt for a varied and nutritious menu for yourself and your family to ensure proper health; book an appointment with top nutritionists in Lahore, Nutritionists in Karachi and Rawalpindi through, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.


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