Caraway is a small, brown pod and although commonly mistaken for a seed, is actually the dried fruit of the caraway plant. It has a slightly biter, earthy flavor and has been used in cooking and herbal medicine for thousands of years to improve digestive, reduce inflammation, and more. In this article we discuss the benefits and uses of caraway seeds.
Caraway is full of a number of essential nutrients like zinc, calcium, magnesium, and manganese. One tablespoon (6.7 grams) of caraway seeds contain:
Furthermore, caraway seeds contain nearly as much fiber as some of the most popular fruits such as blackberries or raspberries.
Caraway oil has been gaining popularity in recent years as a potential treatment for IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). There are additional health benefits of caraway, however.
There are several compounds in caraway that show strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. While yes, a little inflammation here-and-there is a natural response by the body to external stressors, too much inflammation can lead to chronic inflammation. This is essentially the root cause of many Western World diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which can manifest into gas, diarrhea, irritation of digestive tissue, and ulcers.
One study in mice with IBD, found that caraway oil reduced inflammation in the colon as effectively as common steroid-based drugs.
A number of human studies show that caraway oil soothes the digestive tract thereby relieving indigestion and symptoms like gas, bloating, upset stomach, and cramping. This may be due to its antimicrobial capacity, however, more research may be needed.
One test-tube study showed that caraway prohibited the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut while not "touching" the beneficial bacteria. The benefits of these good bacteria include:
Another subsequent test-tube study found that caraway extract fought H. pylori, a potentially harmful bacterium that can cause stomach ulcers and digestive inflammation.
One 90-day study that included 70 women participants found that those who took 30 ml (1 ounce) of a 10% caraway oil solution daily for 90 days experienced greater reductions in weight, body fat percentage, and body mass index (BMI).
Research suggests that these positive effects may be the result of beneficial changes in gut bacteria that alter hormone regulation, appetite, and fat metabolism.
Caraway is available in most grocery and nutritional stores as well as online. It can be used as a supplement to improve digestion or in the kitchen as well. Caraway is perhaps most well-known as an ingredient in rye bread but can be added to other baked goods too.
Caraway can be consumed in capsule, oil, or extract form or even the whole fruit. There are no clear dosage recommendations, but studies suggests that 50 mg - 7 grams of caraway is sufficient and well-tolerated.
There are little-to-no side effects of caraway extract or caraway oil, however, those that are pregnant, nursing, or small children should consult with their physician first before taking.
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Caraway is a small, brown pod and although commonly mistaken for a seed, is actually the dried fruit of the caraway plant. It has has been used in cooking and herbal medicine for thousands of years because of its numerous health benefits.
Although it’s generally safe, children, breastfeeding and pregnant women, and people with liver or gallbladder disease should consult with their healthcare professional before consuming.
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