Caraway, also known as meridian fennel, and Persian cumin (Carum carvi), is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae, native to western Asia, Europe, and North Africa.
The plant is similar in appearance to other members of the carrot family, with finely divided, feathery leaves with thread-like divisions, growing on 20–30 cm (7.9–11.8 in) stems. The main flower stem is 40–60 cm (16–24 in) tall, with small white or pink flowers in umbels. Caraway fruits (erroneously called seeds) are crescent-shaped achenes, around 2 mm (0.08 in) long, with five pale ridges.
The etymology of caraway is complex and poorly understood. Caraway has been called by many names in different regions, with names deriving from the Latin cuminum (cumin), the Greek karon (again, cumin), which was adapted into Latin as carum (now meaning caraway), and the Sanskrit karavi, sometimes translated as “caraway”, but other times understood to mean “fennel”.
English use of the term caraway dates back to at least 1440, and is considered by Walter William Skeat to be of Arabic origin, though Gernot Katzer believes the Arabic al-karawya كراوية (cf. Spanish alcaravea) to be derived from the Latin carum.
7 Amazing Benefits
1. In addition to their utility as remedial items in the traditional medicines, caraway seeds have their own food value, and indeed, have many health benefiting nutrients, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
2. Caraway seeds are a rich source of dietary fiber. 100 g seeds provide 38 g of fiber, 100% of daily recommended intake of fiber. The soluble as well as insoluble dietary fiber increase the bulk of the food and help prevent constipation by speeding up its movement through the gut.
3. Also, dietary fiber binds to the toxins in the food and helps protect the colon mucosa from cancers. Further, dietary fibers bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption in the colon, and thus help in reducing serum LDL cholesterol levels.
4. Caraway contains health benefiting essential oils. Principle volatile compounds are carvone, limonene, carveol, pinene, cumuninic aldehyde, furfural, and thujone. These active principles in the caraway seeds known to have antioxidant, digestive, carminative, and anti-flatulent properties.
5. Caraway has health benefiting flavonoid antioxidants such as lutein, carotene, cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin. These compounds indeed work as powerful antioxidants by removing harmful free radicals from the body and thus protect from cancers, infection, aging and degenerative neurological diseases.
6. Caraway spice is an excellent source of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Copper required for the production of red blood cells. Iron required for red blood cell formation. Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese used by the body as a co-factor for the powerful antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
7. The caraway seeds indeed are the 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 concentrated in the seeds.