Kalonji is flavorful, boasts medicinal properties, and can even be consumed while pregnant. Supplements may benefit your health, but more research is needed.
Also known as black cumin, nigella or by its scientific name Nigella sativa, kalonji belongs to the buttercup family of flowering plants.
It grows up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall and produces a fruit with seeds that are used as a flavorful spice in many cuisines.
In addition to its culinary use, kalonji is known for its medicinal properties.
In fact, its use can be traced back several centuries as a
This article discusses 9 of the most impressive science-backed benefits of kalonji, plus how you can add it to your diet.
Antioxidants are substances that neutralize harmful free radicals and prevent oxidative damage to cells.
Research shows that antioxidants can have a powerful effect on health and disease.
However, further research is needed to determine how the antioxidants found in kalonji may impact health in humans.
Summary Some test-tube studies have shown that the high antioxidant content of kalonji may help protect against disease.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found throughout your body. While you need some cholesterol, high amounts can build up in your blood and increase your risk of heart disease.
Kalonji has been shown to be especially effective at lowering cholesterol.
One review of 17 studies found that supplementing with kalonji was associated with significant decreases in both total and “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as blood triglycerides.
Interestingly, it also found that kalonji oil had a greater effect than kalonji seed powder. However, only seed powder increased levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
Summary Several studies have found that supplementing with kalonji could help reduce both total and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Kalonji is high in antioxidants, which help neutralize harmful free radicals that may contribute to the development of diseases like cancer.
Test-tube studies have found some impressive results regarding the potential anti-cancer effects of kalonji and thymoquinone, its active compound.
However, there is no evidence on the anti-cancer effects of kalonji in humans. Studies are needed to examine whether kalonji has any cancer-fighting benefits when used as a spice or taken as a supplement.
Summary Test-tube studies have shown that kalonji and its components may exhibit anti-cancer effects.
Disease-causing bacteria are responsible for a long list of dangerous infections, ranging from ear infections to pneumonia.
Some test-tube studies have found that kalonji may have antibacterial properties and be effective at fighting off certain strains of bacteria.
Kalonji killed off the bacteria in a dose-dependent manner in over half of the samples.
Yet, human studies are limited, and more research is needed to look at how kalonji may affect different strains of bacteria in the body.
Summary Both test-tube and human studies have found that kalonji may be effective against several types of bacterial infections.
In most cases, inflammation is a normal immune response that helps protect the body against injury and infection.
On the other hand, chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to a variety of diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Some studies have found that kalonji may have powerful anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
Despite these promising results, most human studies are limited to people with specific conditions. More research is needed to understand how kalonji may affect inflammation among the general population.
Summary Some studies have found that kalonji and its active components could help reduce markers of inflammation.
The liver is an incredibly important organ. It removes toxins, metabolizes drugs, processes nutrients and produces proteins and chemicals that are crucial to health.
Several promising animal studies have found that kalonji may help protect the liver against injury and damage.
However, more studies are needed to measure how kalonji may influence liver health in humans.
Summary Animal studies have found that kalonji could protect the liver from injury and damage.
High blood sugar can cause many negative symptoms, including increased thirst, unintentional weight loss, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
Left unchecked in the long term, high blood sugar can lead to even more serious consequences, such as nerve damage, vision changes and slow wound healing.
Some evidence shows that kalonji could help keep blood sugar steady and thus prevent these dangerous adverse side effects.
Summary Studies show that supplementing with kalonji may help decrease blood sugar levels.
Stomach ulcers are painful sores that form when stomach acids eat away at the layer of protective mucus that lines the stomach.
Some research shows that kalonji could help preserve the lining of the stomach and prevent the formation of ulcers.
Keep in mind that current research is limited to animal studies. Further research is needed to determine how kalonji may affect stomach ulcer development in humans.
Summary Animal studies have found that kalonji may help protect the stomach lining against the formation of stomach ulcers.
There are a variety of ways to add kalonji to your diet.
With a bitter taste that is described as a mix between oregano and onions, it is often found in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines.
It’s usually lightly toasted and then ground or used whole to add flavor to bread or curry dishes.
Some people also eat the seeds raw or mix them with honey or water. They can also be added to oatmeal, smoothies or yogurt.
What’s more, the oil is sometimes diluted and applied topically as a natural remedy that’s said to increase hair growth, reduce inflammation and treat certain skin conditions.
Lastly, supplements are available in capsule or softgel form for a quick and concentrated dose of kalonji.
Summary Kalonji can be eaten raw, added to dishes or mixed with honey or water. The oil can also be diluted and applied topically to the hair and skin or taken in supplement form.
While kalonji has been associated with many health benefits and is generally safe when used as a spice or seasoning, taking a kalonji supplement or using kalonji oil may have risks.
For example, there have been
If you are pregnant, be sure to use it in moderation and consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
Summary Applying kalonji may cause contact dermatitis in some people. Test-tube and animal studies have shown that it may also influence blood clotting and possibly slow down uterine contractions during pregnancy.
The seeds of the kalonji plant are known for their diverse culinary uses and medicinal properties.
Traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments, kalonji has been associated with a wide range of health benefits.
However, many of them have only been examined in test-tube or animal studies.
Although more research is needed, adding kalonji to your diet or using it as a supplement could have a beneficial effect on several aspects of your health.