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Caraway

  Caraway 

Caraway is cultivated in many parts of the world like Europe, Asia and parts of Africa. Caraway (Carum carvi) is also known as Meridian Fennel or Persian Cumin. It belongs to the family Apiaceae and it is a biennial plant native to western Asia, Europe and Northern Africa. Caraway plant looks like a carrot plant. Caraway fruits are in fact mistakenly called caraway seeds. Caraway seed is a crescent-shaped achene, approximately 2 mm long, which has five pale ridges. Caraway plants grow well in warm sunny climate and in well drained soil. 

Uses

Caraway is an invariable element of European cuisine. It is a part of typical Indian spicy food. In Hindi it is called Shah Jeera. Caraway seeds are usually used whole. The essential oils, namely carvone and limonene present in the seeds offer them a pungent, anise-like flavor and aroma. The seeds are known for their pleasant odor, aromatic flavor and somewhat sharp taste. They leave a warm feeling in the mouth. Even ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans knew qualities of caraway seeds. The seeds of caraway were recommended for bringing bloom to the cheeks of pale-faced young maidens.

Caraway seeds are commonly used as a spice in various types of breads, especially in rye bread. The rye bread spiced with caraway seeds might be denser partly as the limonene present in the seeds has yeast-killing properties. Caraway is being used for centuries in breads and cakes and with baked fruit, especially roasted apples. Caraway seeds make liquors, casseroles, curries and other foods tasty, spicy and healthy. For example, caraway seeds make sauerkraut tangy and they add flavor to cheeses. Different types of liqueurs such as akvavit, are made with caraway. Cakes are made using caraway seeds instead of lemon and orange. The seeds are used to make a carminative or a tea which is considered as one of the best colic remedies and it is also used to treat loss of appetite and digestive disorders and to get rid of worms. Caraway oil is used to offer a fragrance to various soaps, lotions, and perfumes. Caraway roots are cooked and consumed as a root vegetable like parsnips or carrots.

Substitute

Caraway thyme can offer almost the same scent as caraway seeds and is therefore used as a substitute for caraway seeds in recipes. The members of the family Apiaceae such as anise, fennel, cumin, licorice-root (Ligusticum) and coriander, are generally used as caraway seed substitutes.

Health Benefits

Caraway seeds are used to treat

Appetite loss

Bronchitis

Colds

Cough

Fever

Gingivitis

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Liver and gallbladder problems

Sore throat

Tendency to infection

Flatulence and other stomach disorders

Nauseating and griping effects of some medicines.

Caraway seeds or caraway seed oil in combination with other oils or other herbs like sage oils, peppermint oil, menthol, chamomile tincture, Echinacea, myrrh tincture, clove oil can be used to make a mouthwash to treat gingivitis. Similarly, caraway seeds along with peppermint, fennel, and wormwood can be used to treat IBS as the mixture has soothing effect on the gastrointestinal system.

Dosage

Caraway seeds are usually consumed in the form of a tea. To make caraway tea, take 1-2 tsp. of pressed seeds and add them to 150 ml. of boiling water. Let the water boil for 5-10 minutes and then let it cool down for another 10 minutes. Then drain it and the caraway tea is ready to drink! You can have the caraway tea 1 to 3 times per day. If you wish to take caraway in the form of an essential oil, 2 to 3 drops should be administered daily.

Side Effects

Normal dosage and administration of caraway supplements do not result in any kind of side effects or health hazards. But, large doses of the volatile oil, taken for long periods, may lead to potential kidney and liver damage.

The nutritional analysis of caraway seeds shows that they contain appreciable moisture, protein, fat, and substantial amount of carbohydrates. They are also rich in ash, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. They are packed with vitamins C and A. Caraway seeds work as an excellent 'house cleaner' for the body. There is no doubt that caraway seeds should be incorporated in everyday diet.

 

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