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Caraway seed nutrition facts

In traditional Europe, caraway seed is the chief spice features in savory dishes. Strongly aromatic caraway is a member of parsley or umbelliferae family, the family that also includes commonly known herbs and spices such as dill, anise, fennel, cumin etc. Scientific name of caraway is Carum carvi.

Caraway is grown extensively all over Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor. This biennial herbaceous plant blooms once in every two years to produce creamy flowers in umbels. It grows to about 2 feet in height and bears small feathery leaves. The seeds which appear like cumin, are crescent in shape and dark brown with up to five vertical ribs.

The seeds are harvested during early hours of the day to avoid spilling on the ground. The cut plants are then staked until they dry and then the seeds are threshed.

Health benefits of caraway seeds

  • In addition to its use as medicinal values, caraway indeed has many health benefiting nutrients, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.

  • Caraway seeds are rich source of dietary fiber. 100 g seeds provide 38 g of fiber. They increase bulk of the food and helps prevent constipation by speeding up movement of food through the gut. In fact, gastro-intestinal transit time of food is greatly decreased.

  • Fiber also binds to toxins in the food and helps protect the colon mucus membrane from cancers. In addition, dietary fibers bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption in colon, thus help lower serum LDL cholesterol levels.

  • Caraway has many health benefiting essential oils. Principle volatile compounds are carvone, limonene, carveol, pinen, cumuninic aldehyde, furfurol,and thujone. These active principles in the caraway seeds are known to have antioxidant, digestive, carminative, and anti-flatulent properties.

  • Caraway has many many health benefiting flavonoid anti-oxidnats such as lutein, carotene, crypto-xanthin and zeaxanthin. These compounds are indeed function as powerful anti-oxidants by removing  harmful free radicals from the body thus protect from cancers, infection, aging and degenerative neurological diseases.

  • Caraway spice is an excellent source of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation. zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the powerful anti-oxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.

  • The seeds indeed are storehouse for many vital vitamins. Vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C as well as many B-complex vitamins like thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and niacin particularly are concentrated in the caraway seeds.

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 333 Kcal 17%
Carbohydrates 49.90 g 38%
Protein 19.77 g 35%
Total Fat 14.59 g 48%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 38 g 100%

Folates 10 mcg% 2.5%
Niacin 3.606 mg 23%
Pyridoxine 0.360 mg 28%
Riboflavin 0.379 mg 29%
Thiamin 0.383 mg 32%
Vitamin A 363 IU 12%
Vitamin C 21 mg 35%
Vitamin E 2.5 mg 17%
Vitamin K 0 mcg 0%

Sodium 17 mg 1%
Potassium 1351 mg 29%

Calcium 689 mg 69%
Copper 0.910 mg 101%
Iron 16.23 mg 203%
Magnesium 258 mg 64.5%
Manganese 1.300 mg 56.5%
Phosphorus 568 mg 81%
Zinc 5.5 mg 50%

Carotene-ß 189 mcg --
Crypto-xanthin-ß 58 mcg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 205 mcg --

Selection and storage

Caraway is available year around in the markets either in the form of seeds or in ground form. In the store, buy whole caraway seeds instead of powder since, oftentimes it may contain adulterated spicy powders.

Once at home, the seeds can be stored in cool, dry, dark place in air sealed containers for many months and can be milled using hand mill whenever required. Ground and powdered caraway should be stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers and should be used as early as possible since it loses its flavor rather quickly.

Medicinal uses

  • Caraway water is sometimes used in treating flatulence and indigestion in traditional medicines, especially used to relive infantile colic.

  • It is also used in pharmaceuticals as flavoring agent in mouthwash and gargle preparations.

  • Caraway extraction is used as rubefacient (to soothe muscle sores), clear the cold, as a remedy in bronchitis and irritable bowel syndrome in many traditional medicines.

Culinary uses

Caraway seeds have a warm, sweet and slightly peppery aroma when squeezed between index and thumb fingers. Its seeds are used extensively in European and Mediterranean cooking.

In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, caraway seeds are generally ground just before preparing dishes or whole seeds are lightly roasted before using them in a recipe.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Caraway seed is widely used as a savory spice. It is principally added in cooking as a condiment and flavoring base.

  • It features in savory dishes including cabbage soups, sauerkraut, and salads.

  • Caraway gives its pleasant aroma to breads, cakes, biscuits, and cheese.

  • Caraway is also an important ingredient in some of northern European liquors like kummel, gin, and schnapps.
  • In addition, along with other spicy items, they are being used to season sausage and other meat preparations.

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