How Caraway Seed Contributes to Weight Loss
A new study suggests that caraway seed contributes to weight loss by working at several levels. Although you may have tried herbal teas to help with weight loss, have you ever considered including caraway seed extract as part of your dieting efforts?
What is caraway seed?
Caraway seed is a staple in European cooking, but it has gained favor around the world. This member of the Umbelliferae family is joined by its cousins--anise, cumin, dill, fennel, and parsley, among others.
Caraway seeds (Carum carvi L.) has been valued for millennia for their medicinal benefits, which include antioxidant, digestive, and anti-flatulent characteristics. Another significant plus is its ability to help with weight loss.
Caraway seed weight loss study
In a study appearing in Phytotherapy Research, investigators enrolled 70 overweight and obese otherwise healthy women in a triple-blind, placebo-controlled study. The women were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: placebo or 30 mL/day of caraway seed extract.
None of the participants were asked to change their diet or exercise routine over the length of the 90-day study. The researchers measured calorie and macronutrient intake, assessed appetite changes, noted body measurements (body mass index, body weight, percentage of fat and weight to hip measurements), and recorded cholesterol levels and urine analysis findings.
Here’s what the investigators discovered at the end of the trial:
- Women taking caraway seed extract had a significant reduction in appetite and carbohydrate intake compared with the placebo group
- All of the body measurements were significantly reduced in the caraway seed extract group compared with placebo
- Average weight in the caraway seed group went from 76.86 kilos down to 75 kilos (>6 lb loss)
- Average weight in the placebo group went from 71.96 kilos to 72.77 kilos, an average gain of 1.6 pounds
- Percentage of body fat declined from (mean) 35.43 to 34.74 in the caraway group and from (mean) 31.81 to 31.75 in the placebo group
- Waist circumference decreased by (mean) 6.2 cm and thigh circumference declined by 5.4 cm in the caraway group compared with baseline
- Percentage of body muscle rose from (mean) 31.42 to 31.61 in the caraway group but declined from 31.81 to 31.75 in the placebo group
- Body mass index declined in the caraway group from (mean) 30.69 to 29.85 but rose in the placebo group from 28.34 to 28.50
According to the authors, use of caraway seed extract “appears to control hunger and to reduce standard anthropometric indices and body composition through suppressing appetite and decreasing carbohydrate intake with no loss in muscle mass or other adverse effects.”
How caraway seed works for weight loss
The ability of caraway seed extract to help with weight loss may be related to some of its constituents, such as carvacrol and unsaturated fatty acids. More specifically, the active compounds together may inhibit the growth of “bad” bacteria and thus boost the growth of gut microflora, which aid in digestion and absorption and thus help balance the bacteria population.
A balanced microflora in turn acts on other factors (e.g., macrophages) and ultimately helps prevent the development of fat cells and thus more fatty tissue. Caraway constituents also stimulate cell suicide among pre-fat cells (pre-adipocytes) because of their antioxidant powers.
Caraway seed extract supplements are available. Be sure to speak with a knowledgeable healthcare professional before taking caraway seed to determine the best dosage for you.
Kazemipoor M et al. Slimming and appetite-suppressing effects of caraway aqueous extract as a natural therapy in physically active women. Phytotherapy Research 2016 Mar 14 online. DOI:10.1002/ptr.5603
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