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Fall for New Flavors: Cumin

Many cancer patients experience side effects from treatment which may include taste changes, altering the way flavors are experienced. Experimenting with different spices and herbs can help with these taste changes.

Hands up if you’ve ever heard of cumin before! Cumin is a very powerful spice that adds a depth of flavor to any meal.

Nutritional Content

One tablespoon of cumin provides 22 calories, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fat, and 1 gram of protein. It also contains 22% of the daily recommended value of iron, and 10% of manganese. Iron is not absorbed easily in the body, so it is important to consume enough of it through foods [i]. Vitamin C complements iron, and consuming them together in a meal promotes iron absorption. You’ll notice the tomatoes and lemon juice in the below recipe, which are loaded with vitamin C [ii]!

Health Benefits

Cumin provides the body with a significant amount of iron. Iron plays an important role in the body’s immunity. Low iron intake can result in deficiency or anemia, which can display itself through uncomfortable symptoms such as fatigue [iii].

How to Use

Cumin is largely used in Indian and East Asian cooking. It is a staple ingredient in many curries and spice blends.

For other applications of this flavorful spice, try adding a dash of cumin into your favorite bean dishes such as dips and chilis. It also pairs well with coriander and meat dishes, if that’s more your taste! If you enjoy turmeric and cayenne, cumin generally pairs nicely with those flavors as well. There’s a way for everyone to enjoy cumin, don’t miss out on the benefits!

Here is a high protein and delicious red lentil soup recipe which encompasses the delicious cumin flavor in a more subtle way.

Shelf Life

Dried, ground cumin can be stored up to 3-4 years in a tightly sealed, dry container.


Red Lentil Soup
  1. 3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
  2. 1 large onion, chopped
  3. 1 tablespoon tomato paste/diced tomatoes
  4. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  5. ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
  6. ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  7. Pinch ground cayenne, more to taste (optional)
  8. 2 cups water
  9. 1 cup red lentils
  10. 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  11. Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
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  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over high heat and add the onion. Sauté until golden/browned.
  2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
  3. Add 2 cups of water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until lentils are soft. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to the pot. This will make the soup thicker.
  5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice. Serve soup drizzled with olive oil and cumin for extra flavor.
Adapted from NYT Cooking
Adapted from NYT Cooking
Savor Health https://savorhealth.com/

[i] Spices, cumin. Retrieved from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/184/2

[ii] Hallberg L, Brune M, Rossander L. (1989). The role of vitamin C in iron absorption. International journal for vitamin and nutrition research, 30, 103-108.

[iii] Abbaspour N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R. (2014). Review on iron and its importance for human health. Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 19(2), 164.

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