11 Impressive Health Benefits of Kalonji (Nigella Seeds)

Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2022
11 Impressive Health Benefits of Kalonji
Kalonji is a good flavoring or seasoning agent in dishes, which is safe for most people.

Kalonji (Nigella sativa) is also called black seed, black cumin, black caraway, or Roman coriander. It is an annual flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae, native to Asia, the Mediterranean, and Africa.

Nigella sativa grows to 20 to 30 cm in height, with finely divided, linear leaves and delicate, pale blue, and white flowers that have five to ten petals. The plant produces large fruit with numerous seeds that are used as a flavorful spice in several cuisines.

Apart from culinary uses, kalonji seeds have been used for medicinal purposes.

The tiny black seeds are rich in vitamins, including:

  • Vitamins A, B, C, and B12
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Fiber
  • Proteins
  • Minerals (such as sodium, iron, potassium, and calcium)

11 potential health benefits of kalonji

  1. A source of antioxidants
    • Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize harmful free radicals and prevent oxidative damage to cells.
    • Kalonji contains compounds with potent antioxidant properties, such as thymoquinone, carvacrol, t-anethole, and 4-terpineol, that may protect against chronic conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
  2. Fights allergens and bacteria
    • Test-tube studies have reported that kalonji may have antibacterial properties and be effective at fighting off certain strains of bacteria.
    • Several test-tube studies reported that kalonji can treat or prevent the growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and several types of bacterial infections.
  3. Helps with weight loss
    • Kalonji oil contains phytochemicals, particularly phytosterols, which can impact the expression of genes, leading to appetite control along with faster fat loss.
    • A study including about 783 overweight participants concluded that kalonji seed oil and powder can reduce weight by an average of 4.6 pounds compared to the placebo group.
    • Another eight-week study conducted on women taking a low-calorie diet with three grams of kalonji oil revealed a weight loss of 4.6 pounds compared to the placebo.
  4. Boosts memory and concentration
    • Ayurvedic medicine suggests taking kalonji seeds combined with mint leaves for a memory boost.
    • Kalonji is healthy for elderly people because it could prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease.
  5. Helps lower cholesterol
    • Studies report that supplementing with kalonji was associated with a significant decrease in total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and blood triglycerides, thus reducing the risk of heart diseases.
  6. Aids in blood sugar regulation
    • High blood sugar can lead to serious consequences, such as nerve damage, vision changes, kidney problems, and slow wound healing.
    • Kalonji is a natural cure that may improve healthy blood sugar levels in patients with type II diabetes.
    • A study reported that taking kalonji daily for three months significantly reduced fasting blood sugar, average blood sugar, and insulin resistance.
  7. Prevents constipation and stomach ulcers
    • Kalonji contains thymoquinone, an important ingredient to cure various gastrointestinal issues.
    • Adding kalonji seeds to your diet prevents constipation and regulates digestive health.
    • Studies report that kalonji could help preserve the lining of the stomach and prevent the formation of ulcers.
  8. Has anticancer properties
    • In-vitro (test-tube) studies have reported impressive results of the potential anticancer effects of kalonji and thymoquinone (their active compound).
    • Kalonji and its components are effective against several types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, cervical, prostate, skin, and colon cancers.
  9. Alleviates inflammation
    • Inflammation is a normal immune response that helps protect the body against injuries and infections. However, chronic inflammation is speculated to contribute to several diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases.
    • Studies suggest that kalonji may have powerful anti-inflammatory effects on the body that could help reduce the markers of inflammation.
  10. Helps relieve skin diseases
    • Kalonji helps maintain glowing and clear skin and fights several skin problems, such as acne, scars, dry skin, skin whitening, pigmentation, wrinkles, and blemishes.
  11. Good for dental issues


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What are nigella seeds good for?

The seeds have an aroma similar to fennel and have a pungent flavor like nutmeg.

The active ingredients of black seed are linoleic acid, oleic acid, thymoquinone, and nigellone.

Culinary uses

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies Nigella sativa as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) to use as a spice, natural seasoning, and flavoring.

The dry-roasted seeds flavor curries, vegetables, and pulses. They can be used as a seasoning in recipes with pod fruit, vegetables, salads, and poultry.

Medicinal uses

Black cumin is important in traditional medicine and is an esteemed herbal remedy for a wide variety of health concerns including:

How to use kalonji

There are several ways to add kalonji to your daily diet.

  • You can lightly toast and grind them
  • Use them whole to add flavor to bread or curries
  • Eat the seeds raw
  • Combine them with honey or water
  • Add them to oatmeal, smoothies, or yogurt

Black seed oil is used topically as a natural remedy to increase hair growth, reduce inflammation, and treat certain skin conditions.

What is the nutritional information of kalonji?

Table 1: Nutrient content in 100 grams of kalonji
Nutrient Amount
Calories 345
Total fat 15 grams
Carbs 52 grams
Protein 16 grams
Sodium 88 mg

What are the downsides of kalonji?

Kalonji is a good flavoring or seasoning agent in dishes, which is safe for most people. However, consuming it in large amounts may possess some health risks, such as:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Adverse skin reactions (when applied topically)
  • Bleeding risk (may hinder clotting mechanisms)

Though it is safe to add kalonji to food during pregnancy, eating it regularly or consuming it in large amounts may risk the fetus’ health. Its effect is not much known during breastfeeding.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2022
Image Source: iStock image

A review on therapeutic potential of Nigella sativa: A miracle herb. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3642442/

Black Seed - Uses, Side Effects, and More. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-901/black-seed