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Composition of Nigella Sativa (Black Seed)

Posted by SoundHealth on Monday, January 19, 2009
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The beneficial and well-known black seed oil comes from the nigella sativa plant, an annual flowering plant with pale blue and white flowers, and a large fruit which contains the black seeds.

The nigella sativa seed is known by various names, including

  • Black cumin
  • Black caraway
  • Black onion seed
  • Black seed
  • Fennel flower
  • Roman coriander
  • Kalonji

Other names mistakenly used are onion seed and black sesame, and although these look similar to nigella sativa, they are not the same seed.

nigella sativa has been used as a herb and pressed into oil for many centuries, for its medicinal and culinary purposes. Research papers on the many benefits of nigella sativa have already been given in a previous article.

Nutritional Composition of Nigella sativa oil

Nigella sativa oil consists of about 35% carbohydrates, 21% protein and 35-38% fats. These fats are both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids and are present in oil in the following percentages:

  • Saturated Acids 18.1%
  • Monounsaturated Acids 23.8%
  • Polyunsaturated Acids 58.1%

Other minerals present in the oil include thiamin, niacin, calcium, folacin, zinc and phosphorus.

The main component in the essential oil of nigella sativa is thymoquinone. It contains up to 50% of this phytochemical compound, which has antioxidant properties. It also contains about 40% p-cymene and 15% a-pinene; naturally occurring organic compounds, as well as small amounts of other constituents.

Nigella sativa seeds

The seeds contain a fatty oil rich in unsaturated fatty acids. The two main unsaturated fatty acids are:

It also contains smaller amounts of saturated fatty acids. The two main ones present are:

Nigella sativa contains fifteen amino acids; these include eight of the nine essential amino acids required for a healthy diet.

Commercial nigella sativa oil may also contain parts of the essential oil, mostly thymoquinone, by which it acquires an aromatic flavor. However, different brands contain varying chemical compositions.


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