This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
There are many claims about foods and oils for weight loss. Some work, others don’t. What about black seed oil, is it good for weight loss?
The nigella sative plant that produces the fruit with black seeds has been used medicinally by humans for a long time (1). Sometimes plants that get used in traditional medicine don’t always show the same results in studies.
In the case of black seeds and black seed oil there may be some actual health and weight loss benefits. Just how much can they help and are these products worth paying any attention to?
What is black seed oil?
The nigella sativa is a flowering plant. This plant produces fruit with tiny black seeds inside. These black seeds also have other names like black-cumin, black caraway, and nigella (2).
Edible oils from plants, in this case the black seeds, are made pressing out the oil or by the use of chemicals. In general, pressing is the healthiest way to make black seed oil. Oils made this way get the name extra virgin black seed oil.
People use black seed oil both as a consumable and something to apply to hair and skin. In this article the focus is on the consumption of black seed oil and its potential for weight loss.
Fatty acid composition of black seed oil
Black seed oil is full of fatty acids. The main fatty acids are linoleic acid (55.6%), oleic acid (23.44%) and palmitic acid (12.5%) (3).
Can black seed oil be used for weight loss?
It might not sound like a good idea to consume more calorie-heavy oil to lose weight. Most people focus on eating fewer calories so that they can achieve a calorie deficit to lose weight.
There is for example a study where 90 obese women followed a low-calorie diet. One group consumed 3 grams of black seed oil a day (1g before each meal) for 8 weeks and the other group consumed a placebo at the same times for 8 weeks (6).
The study found a statistically significant difference in weight loss and waist circumference in favor of the black seed oil group.
Studies like this show interesting findings but they might not be enough to conclude that black seed oil will help you lose weight. It’s also not entirely clear how black seed oil can help you lose weight. The question is also, if black seed oil did help, how much of a difference would this oil make?
Black seed oil is most likely not a make-or-break weight loss diet component but it may help a small amount.
Potential side effects of black seed oil
If you regularly take medication it can be smart to talk to your doctor before making any big changes in your diet like consuming a lot more black seed oil. The same goes for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children.
Low doses of black seed oil should not lead to serious side effects in healthy individuals. In one study 5 ml black seed oil a day for 8 weeks did cause nausea and bloating (7).
Other health benefits of black seed oil
Besides potentially helping you lose weight, black seed oil may have some other health benefits too. Some of these include:
- Potentially helping against cancer: the substance “thymoquinone” in black seed oil can help your body deal with certain cancer cells (8). This research was done in the lab, not in live humans so more investigation is needed.
- Potentially controlling blood sugar levels (9): This may help individuals, especially if they have diabetes, with their health.
- Potentially helping with asthma: Interestingly enough, black seed oil supplementation may be beneficial for the treatment of asthma (10, 11). Asthma is a condition in which a person’s airways swell and contract. this makes it difficult to breathe.
- Potentially lowering blood pressure and cholesterol: Consuming black seed oil may reduce so-called “bad cholesterol (LDL) and total cholesterol levels (6).
The thing with black seed oil is that the amount and size of the studies are not sufficient to make any waterproof conclusions. Black seed oil does show some promising findings.
How to take black seed oil
You can find black seed oil as regular oil, pill supplement or liquid supplement.
Like with most supplements these products are often not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that the quality can differ between manufacturers.
Due to the relatively high price points, most people don’t use black seed oil as a cooking oil. Instead, you can use a few drops to finish off a dish. Some people really don’t like the intense taste of black seed oil. It might be smart to start with very small portions.
To avoid it going rancid you can keep black seed oil in a dark and cool place. The same goes for the supplements.
Can you take black seed oil every day?
If you are a healthy adult individual you should be alright taking black seed oil every day in small doses.
The amount of long-term studies on black seed oil is not yet sufficient to conclude on an exact daily limit.
Some people take up to 2 grams of black seed oil a day without any problem. You can start with smaller doses and see how that goes for you. If you want you can build up from there.
There are some studies that show that black seed oil can help with weight loss but it’s too early to make any real conlusions. There are most likely more important changes you can make in your lifestyle to lose weight.
It’s not entirely clear how black seed oil would help you lose weight. And if it did how much of a difference it would make. Another question would be how it compares to other healthy oils, like olive oil.
That being said, the studies that look into the health benefits of black seed oil generally look good. If you’re a healthy individual you should have no problem with small doses of this oil.