Cumin, also known as zeera, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to India. Its seeds (each one contained within a fruit, which is dried) are used in the cuisines of many different cultures, in both whole and ground form. In addition, it is also used as a medicinal plant, serving as a digestant, as well as being used to treat anemia and the common cold.
In Sanskrit, cumin is known as "Jira" that helps digestion. In the Ayurvedic system, dried cumin seeds are used for medicinal purposes. These seeds are powdered and used in different forms like kashaya (decoction), arishta (fermented decoction), vati(tablet/pills), and processed with ghee (a semi-fluid clarified butter). It is used internally and sometimes for external applications, also. It enhances the appetite, taste perception, digestion, vision, strength, and lactation. It is used to in the treatment of fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal distension, edema and puerperal disorders.
Cuminaldehyde, cymene and terpenoids are the major volatile components of cumin. Results of a study conducted in India showed that cumin can be used as an antioxidant. The antioxidative potential is correlated with the phenol content of cumin. Cuminaldehyde has also antimicrobial and antifungal properties which could be shown e.g. with Escherichia coli and Penicillium chrysogenum. [Source: Wikipedia]
USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2 - Prepared by Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - May 2010