Trying to kick a weight loss plateau? Unhand the celery and head for the spice cabinet: New research shows that cumin powder can help jumpstart weight loss, decrease body fat, and improve unhealthy cholesterol levels naturally.
Researchers at Iran’s Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences randomly split 88 overweight or obese women into 2 groups. For 3 months, both groups received nutrition counseling and decreased their daily intake of calories by 500. But one group was also eating 3 grams (a little less than 1 teaspoon) of cumin powder daily, swirled into 5 ounces of yogurt (the same amount of yogurt, minus the cumin, was also prescribed to the control group).
At the end of the 3-month trial, members in the cumin group had lost 3 more pounds than those in the non-cumin group for a total of 13 pounds weight loss. More impressively, the cumin group members decreased body fat percentage by 14.64%—almost triple the 4.91% loss posted by the control group—apparently due to the addition of the fat-burning spice.
There were internal benefits, too. The cumin group’s levels of harmful blood fats, or triglycerides, dropped by 23 points, while the control group’s decreased only by 5. Cumin eaters also knocked an average of nearly 10 points off their “bad” LDL cholesterol reading. The control group shed just half a point in that category.
How did the cumin group get such dramatic changes just from eating a little of the spice? First, cumin is rich in phytosterols, plant chemicals known to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the body. Since this is the first research to show the spice has weight-loss benefits, the study authors also speculate that cumin, like other hot spices, temporarily increases metabolic rate. (Join Prevention’s 21-Day Challenge to lose weight and feel amazing by summer!)
Want to try it yourself? Since cumin mixed into plain yogurt isn’t the most enticing snack idea we’ve ever come across, here are some tastier applications:
Add a few teaspoons of ground cumin to your favorite roasted veggie recipe (it pairs especially well with sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, squash, and cauliflower, according to Ian Hemphill, author of The Spice & Herb Bible).
Blend ground cumin with chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and ground red pepper for DIY taco seasoning.
Add a dash to mayo or hummus for sandwiches and dips.
Kick up mild guacamole with a dash or two of cumin powder to taste.
Sprinkle ground cumin into a batch of roasted chickpeas or nuts.
Try it in the delicious recipe below!
Spicy Hash with Eggs and Green Goddess Hollandaise
PREP TIME: 20 minutes / TOTAL TIME: 1 hour / SERVINGS: 4
Spicy Hash with Eggs and Green Goddess Hollandaise( Photograph by Philip Ficks )
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, cut in a medium dice
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into a medium dice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 med yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper or serrano chile, sliced
8 oz kale, stemmed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 tsp ground cumin
8 lg eggs
1 ripe avocado, diced
½ c water
¼ c fresh lemon juice
Fresh dill, for serving
1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F. Place potatoes and carrots in a large straight-sided skillet and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook until almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. HEAT oil over medium high heat in the skillet. Add onion and jalapeño, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and potatoes and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in kale, cumin, ½ tsp kosher salt, and ½ tsp pepper, and cook until kale is wilted, about 2 minutes. With a large spoon make 4 indentations in the hash mixture and place 2 eggs in each indent. Bake until the eggs are set, about 10 to 15 minutes.
3. COMBINE avocado, water, lemon juice, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper in a blender while the eggs bake and puree until smooth. Add up to 2 Tbsp more water until mixture has a sauce-like consistency. Serve the eggs and hash topped with avocado hollandaise and fresh dill.
NUTRITION (per serving): 458 cal, 19 g pro, 44 g carb, 10 g fiber, 9 g sugars, 24 g fat, 5 g sat fat, 607 mg sodium