Caraway Seeds, Small But Mighty
Caraway seeds are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.
Caraway seeds have been around the world for millennia as both a flavor enhancer and a natural treatment for gastro-intestinal ailments. From Africa to China, caraway seeds have long been a supplement of widely varying diets. So what is it about caraway seeds that have made them such a ubiquitous part of the human diet?
The caraway plant is part of the carrot family. With finely divided feathery leaves that have thread-like divisions, its appearance resembles that of a carrot or fennel plant. The caraway seeds, actually considered to be a fruit, are crescent-shaped achenes (simple dried fruit produced by many flowering plants). While you are able to use most of the other plant, we will focus just on the caraway seed (and we’ll keep calling it a seed in deference to the colloquial terminology).
Caraway seeds, usually used whole, have a strong, anise-like flavor and pungent aroma that comes from the essential oils it contains (mostly carvone and limonene). The seeds can be eaten raw, cooked or baked. Caraway seeds can be used in desserts, liquors, casseroles, curry, certain types of cheeses, pudding, and other foods. Most commonly, rye bread uses caraway seeds as an additive to increase flavor and nutritional value of the bread. Though it is more popular in cooking in European kitchens, caraway seeds have recently been en vogue in the United States and have seen an increase in consumption.
The health benefits of caraway seeds are numerous. Caraway seeds are a rich source of dietary fiber (100 grams of seeds yields 38 grams of fiber) helping food move through your digestive tract and binding to toxins in food to be excreted and not absorbed. Also, the essential oils inside caraway seeds have antioxidant and digestive aiding properties. Each tiny seed is packed full of vitamin A, E, C, many of the B-complex vitamins. Caraway seeds also include lots of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc, and magnesium. All these nutrients in a seed you can fit on the head of a match.
Since ancient times, caraway seeds have been used to treat digestive discomfort. Caraway seeds are a naturally carminative. In other words, they reduce gas and bloating. Gas and bloating occur when the bad bacteria in your gut release gas after they have eaten. Caraway seeds naturally inhibit the growth of the bloat-causing bad bacteria and therefore promote the growth of good bacteria to digest your food. It has been suggested that eating a handful of caraway seeds can be helpful in your overall digestion.
Despite it’s small size, caraway seeds pack a mighty punch of nutrition and intestinal tract health. Don’t be fooled by its’ small, unassuming package, caraway seeds can greatly aid in keeping your body functioning optimally.
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