Foeniculum vulgare, more commonly known as fennel, is a medicinal plant that has been used to deal with various ailments other than simply eliminating bad breath. With a mild, licorice-like flavor, fennel is primarily employed for culinary purposes, whereas fennel seeds have a variety of other uses. Consumed both raw and cooked, fennel and its seeds are a perfect addition to any dish. The crispy and crunchy texture of this plant is refreshing and introduces an interesting new dimension of flavor to any meal with its sweet taste. However, there is more to fennel than just its unique piquancy.
Nutrition in Fennel Seeds:
When it comes to nutritional value, fennel seeds are loaded with excellent nutrients that are great for the body. Following is a chart elaborating the nutritional composition of 1 cup of raw fennel bulb and a tablespoon of dried fennel seeds.
Fresh fennel bulb
Dried fennel seeds
* Percentage of recommended daily intake
A potent source of minerals such as calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, zinc, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and selenium, fennel and its seeds offer multiple benefits due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antiviral, anti-tumor and anti-spasmodic properties that everyone can benefit from.
From the chart, it is evident that fennel and its seeds both are low in calorie count and a rich source of many important nutrients. Moreover, these seeds are a great source of vitamin C and thus serve an integral role in helping the body combat illness, reduce the effects of inflammation, induced collagen repair and also heal tissue damage. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for the body primarily in facilitating tissue repair, collagen synthesis, anti-inflammatory benefits, and most importantly, boosting immune health. Owing to its antioxidant properties, vitamin C helps the body avoid any cellular damage resulting from unstable free radicals.
Aside from vitamin C, fennel seeds are loaded with manganese. Manganese is an element important for enzyme activation, metabolism, cellular protection, blood sugar regulation, bone development, as well as wound healing. Manganese, in conjunction with other elements such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, works to contribute toward improved overall health and betterment.
Rich nutritional content in fennel seeds:
A rich source of many phenolic compounds including bioflavonoids, phenolic acids, tannins, coumarins and hydroxycinnamic acids, fennel seeds look similar to cumin in terms of appearance but pack a load more of flavor. Owing to the presence of essential oils, these seeds are potently aromatic. Often crushed and steam distilled to extract fennel essential oil. A concentrated source of flavonoid antioxidants, they are an excellent source of various micronutrients.
Benefits of Fennel Seeds
Following is a list of incredible benefits that these seeds offer.
1. Aid In Digestion
Amongst all the uses of fennel seeds, this is probably the most popular one. These seeds are often employed to treat digestive ailments including heartburn, bloating, intestinal gas, and colic in infants. These seeds possess unique carminative and anti-spasmodic properties that enable them to treat severe gastrointestinal disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). According to studies, fennel seeds might also be particularly useful in treating diarrhea, constipation, ulcerative colitis, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
Fennel seeds can also reduce the symptoms of infant colic – a benign medical condition that commonly affects infants. Dicyclomine hydrochloride is used to treat colic, but the medication has been studied to have potentially severe side effects and might not be very effective either. According to studies, fennel seed oil can help reduce pain and increase motility in the intestines making it an excellent option for remedy. Fennel will help calm the infant as well by lowering abdominal distention.
2. Calm Respiratory Disorders
A lesser-known benefit of fennel seeds is their positive effect on asthma as well as other respiratory ailments. Owing to the presence of phytonutrients, fennel seeds are incredibly beneficial in helping clear sinuses and also help alleviate the symptoms of asthma. Regarding respiratory disorders, such as congestion, coughing, bronchitis, and allergies, fennel’s expectorant properties play a beneficial role in aiding healing.
3. Help Lactating Women
Fennel seeds contain a compound called anethole. Anethole is a phytoestrogen (dietary estrogen) that mimics the estrogen hormone as well as its properties and enables the increased production of milk in lactating mothers. Therefore, for mothers who are breastfeeding, these seeds are a great way to ensure that their body is producing enough milk to sustain their child’s needs.
4. Alleviate Bad Breath
Bad breath is a common issue many of us struggle with. A quick and easy way to rid your mouth of any compromising odor is to chew fennel seeds. Their anise scent and flavor is refreshing and fast acting. All you need 8 to 10 seeds and your breath will be freshened up in a few munches. These seeds contain oils that are aromatic and combat bad breath. Additionally, chewing on these seeds helps increase the production of saliva in the mouth. Increased saliva production, in turn, results in the effective washing out of bacteria that cause bad breath and dental caries. Therefore, the better your saliva flow, the more protected you are from oral health problems.
5. Help Combat Diabetes
According to a research study, fennel essential oil is capable of lowering blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Fennel seeds are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is known to have significant effects in reducing blood glucose levels. Since fennel seeds are low in the glycemic index, they are a fantastic addition to a diabetic patient’s diet. Additionally, another antioxidant found in fennel seeds, beta-carotene, has also been associated with reduced cholesterol levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
6. Reduce Cholesterol Levels
The beta-carotene present in fennel seeds helps to reduce the cholesterol levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. In addition to beta-carotene, the fiber in fennel seeds prevents the reabsorption of cholesterol. This mechanism enables the binding of bile salts which consequently prevents heart-related disorders. This, with other cardio-protective vitamins such as folate and vitamin C, thereby reduces the risk of hypercholesterolemia and cardiovascular issues such as atherosclerosis, stroke and cardiac arrest.
7. Cure Edema
Edema refers to the swelling of tissues in the body owing to the buildup of excess fluid. While the correlation between the effect of fennel seeds and curing edema is not absolute, studies suggest that the compound responsible for the task is anethole. Anethole possesses the unique ability to control one’s blood pressure, flush out excess water from the body and also helps improve kidney functions by facilitating the flushing out of toxins.
8. Help With Fertility Problems
The estrogenic properties of fennel seeds have been proven to help women who are breastfeeding. While the complete effect of fennel seeds on fertility is not yet established, studies and experiments have revealed that tea made from these seeds, in particular, might play a role in enhancing fertility and even induce labor in pregnant women. These same estrogen-mimicking properties allow fennel seeds to alleviate menstrual problems such as cramps and hot flashes.
9. Regulate Blood Pressure
Fennel seeds have been known to aid in the reduction of blood pressure levels. This is mainly attributed to their high potassium content. Potassium counteracts the effects of sodium and helps keep the fluid amount in the bloodstream in check. Fennel seeds are potent sources of calcium as well. Calcium is a mineral imperative for optimum blood pressure regulation. It helps keep blood vessels toned and also helps maintain heart rate. Additionally, these seeds have the greatest content of nitrites in them. Nitrites are compounds that are known to reduce blood pressure levels in the body.
10. Improve Liver Health
A research study evaluated that fennel seeds inhibit liver cancer cell growth and increase the activity of the liver’s antioxidant cells. This effect of these seeds contributes to improved liver health prevents cancer cell growth and thus contributes to improved liver health. Another component found in fennel seeds is selenium, which helps improve liver function by boosting the liver’s enzyme activity and helps detoxify harmful compounds that may have been traced in the body.
11. Aid In Weight Loss
Obesity is a rising global concern that is contributing to the subsequent increase in disease. Fennel seeds are rich in fiber and thus are excellent tools that can help to lose weight and keep hunger pangs at bay. They have also been reported to reduce fat storage by helping improve nutrient absorption. Seeds of the fennel plant possess unique diuretic properties that enable them to increase urine output and flush out the excess fluid from the body. Several experts believe that this mechanism has a link to weight loss. Thus the weight loss said to have been caused by fennel is largely water loss and not because of fat loss.
According to the results of a Korean study, fennel seed intake can help reduce appetite in overweight individuals. Another study revealed that partakers who added 14 grams per day of fiber to their diets, without changing anything else, ate approximately 10% fewer calories per day and lost about four pounds over a period of four months. Increasing fiber intake, by adding high fiber foods to the diet such as fennel seeds, maybe a simple way to effortlessly feel more satisfied and to experience weight loss.
12. Help In Treating Candida
Candida is caused by a range of microorganisms but most prominently by E.Coli and Candida Albicans. Fennel seeds can aid the treatment of candida owing to its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. According to experts, fermented fennel seeds are more powerful and effective for the task as compared to other variety. The anti-fungal benefits of fermented fennel seeds are extremely useful in combating candida so much so that merely consuming a tablespoon of these seeds with your morning meal can help ease the symptoms of the disorder. An alternative way to have them is in the form of fennel seed infused tea in the morning.
13. Improve Skin Health
The anti-microbial properties of fennel seeds deem them an excellent remedy for skin problems. The perfect way to tone your skin would be to allow a handful of fennel seeds to infuse in hot water. Add a few drops of fennel essential oil to the mix and dab this potion on to your face using a cotton pad for a quick and refreshed toned face.
Fennel seed steam has been known to help reduce skin texture. Texture makes the skin look more mature than it is in reality. For hydrated, supple, and youthful looking skin, it is crucial to keep the skin clean, hydrated, and moisturized. Therefore, if you are battling skin texture, fennel seed facial steam can help clean your pores, hydrate your skin, exfoliate, and thus glow from within.
In addition to their anti-microbial properties, fennel seeds are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that retards premature skin aging resulting from free radical damage. Also necessary for collagen formation, vitamin C intake is critical for preventing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
14. Prevent Hair Problems
Whether it is an itchy scalp, dandruff, hair breakage, or hair fall, fennel seeds can help you fight them all. The anti-microbial properties of these seeds, much like skin problems, help boost hair health. Washing your hair with fennel-infused water is excellent for repairing hair damage as well as preventing hair fall. For an itchy scalp, a concoction of fennel seeds, apple cider vinegar, and glycerin can make all your hair woes go away.
15. Boost Bone Health
The high calcium content in fennel seeds makes them an excellent choice to improve bone health as well as strength. In conjunction with the other elements found in these seeds, such as magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamin K, fennel seeds are great for your bones.
While fennel seeds harbor countless benefits, it is not the best for people who are battling certain medical conditions or are allergic to them. Their high potassium content deems them unsuitable for anyone battling kidney disease. Thus these seeds should be consumed in a limited amount. Patients on beta-blockers are also likely to have elevated potassium levels in the body. Beta blockers are drugs that are generally prescribed for controlling blood pressure. Thus patients who take these medicines should avoid these seeds to prevent any unfortunate outcomes.
In conclusion, fennel seeds offer an array of benefits that can play an integral role in boosting one’s health naturally. However, before consumption, it is prudent to make sure that one is not allergic to it. Also, consume all things in moderation.