Fenugreek is a widely popular plant in South and Central Asian countries. The seeds and leaves of fenugreek are used in many Asian countries, like India. Although it has been in use for hundreds of years, the western world has been introduced to this incredibly healthy plant only recently. So if you are not familiar with the name, it’s okay. That what this article is for. We’ll inform you about the health benefits of fenugreek.
Fenugreek is basically an herb that is native to southern Europe, Western Asia, and the Mediterranean region. In terms of production, India is at the top. The leaves and seeds of this herb are beenficial for use in cooking, for medicinal purpose, and also to reduce the bad taste of other medicines. Fenugreek tastes like maple syrup. So, if you are anyone who loves Maple candy (like Ross Geller), you will find it easier to add fenugreek to your diet.
Nutrition value of fenugreek:
Here’s the nutritional content that a 100-grams fenugreek seeds contain:
- Energy – 1350 kilojoules
- Water – 8.8 g
- Carbohydrates – 58 g
- Fat – 6.4 g
- Protein – 23 g
- Calcium – 176 mg (18% of Daily Value, DV)
- Iron – 34 mg (262% of DV)
- Vitamin B6 – 0.6 g (46% of DV)
- Riboflavin – 0.37 mg (31% of DV)
Fenugreek also contains considerable amounts of Vitamin B1 and B3, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, and zinc.
Health benefits of Fenugreek
With such an excellent nutrition profile, you must have guessed that fenugreek is incredibly beneficial to health. From improving brain function to fighting inflammation, fenugreek has numerous roles in protecting human health. We have gathered the details of all the health benefits gained from fenugreek consumption. Read on to find out which organs in your body would benefit the most.
1. Benefits the cardiovascular system.
In various research studies, fenugreek has shown to positively affect cardiovascular conditions, such as high cholesterol and triglycerides, hardening of arteries. Cholesterol and triglyceride-related benefits of fenugreek are specifically evident in people with type 2 diabetes.
A study was done in the Indian population, including participants who had non-insulin-dependent diabetes. These participants were administered 2.5 grams of fenugreek two times a day, for three months. The results showed a significant decline in cholesterol and triglycerides. However, there was no effect on High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), i.e., the good cholesterol.
In another clinical trial, 11 patients with type 1 diabetes were given hot-water-soaked fenugreek and 13 similar patients received fenugreek with yogurt. The study continued for 8 weeks, and the hot-water-fenugreek group had a significant decline in blood sugar, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol, i.e., the bad cholesterol, as compared to the group that received fenugreek with yogurt.
Similarly, low levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides were observed in diabetic patients who consumed fenugreek in the diets. Many studies, albeit small, have found that LDL cholesterol does reduce secondary to fenugreek consumption, but fenugreek doesn’t help in improving HDL profile.
In certain animal studies, fenugreek has shown to increase the activity of certain antioxidants that reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions.
2. Helps Reduce Blood Clots
Fenugreek is a potent anticoagulating agent. Anticoagulants are frequently prescribed to those who have a higher risk of getting strokes or heart attacks. These agents help prevent the formation of blood clots in arteries that supply blood to the organs. Fenugreek exhibited similar results as told by multiple studies. Fenugreek helps increase clotting time in normal human blood samples. For this reason, they can be used as a supplement with treatment to prevent the occurrence of strokes and heart attacks.
Related article: 12 Heart Friendly Foods You Should Add To Your Diet.
3. Helps Improve Brain Function
According to the results of a study carried out on lab rats, fenugreek possesses the ability to lower the risk of developing conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. These neurocognitive disorders are a rising global concern with millions combatting the illness around the globe. Studies showed that fenugreek helps reduce the activity of the enzyme, acetylcholinesterase. Acetylcholinesterase is the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Additionally, fenugreek also helps reduce plaque formation in the nervous system by reducing protein production. This revealed improved memory and enhanced learning in the test subjects along with reduced inflammation, plaque formation, and memory impairment.
4. Fenugreek Possesses Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The linolenic and linoleic acids present in fenugreek seeds offer protection from inflammation. In addition, the ethanol, mucilage, and flavonoids extracted from fenugreek seeds also contribute to their anti-inflammatory properties. Studies carried out to investigate the effect of fenugreek on mice revealed that fenugreek possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Mice were given fenugreek for seven days to counter the impact of skin allergies. After seven days of fenugreek, the test subjects showed reduced skin inflammation as well as the accumulation of inflammatory cells.
Additionally, fenugreek also helps reduce the buildup of fluids in the joints and impaired inflammatory enzyme activity in rats with arthritis. Fenugreek helps reduce inflammation by preventing interleukins 4, 5, 13, and 1β production. It also stops white blood cell infiltration, which prevents the transformation of cells into helper T cells and reduced inflammatory responses.
5. Helps Reduce Blood Sugar
The hypoglycemic effect of fenugreek attributes to 4-hydroxy isoleucine. This amino acid found in fenugreek stimulates the production of insulin by pancreatic cells. Research reveals that diabetic patients who consume fenugreek show significantly reduced levels of blood sugar. Patients of type 1 diabetes reveal lower blood sugar levels and increase sensitivity to insulin compared to those who do not consume fenugreek. Enhanced insulin sensitivity prevents the risk of diabetes type 2 as well. The fiber in fenugreek makes it harder to digest excess sugars and bad fats after forming a thick and sticky gel.
A study conducted on people with type 2 diabetes was divided into two groups. The group that took fenugreek powder twice a day registered a significant improvement in their diabetes symptoms. In addition, the group that did not consume fenugreek exhibited higher chances of developing diabetes-related complications. Additionally, fenugreek reduced blood sugar levels, fats, as well as certain impaired liver function associated enzymes in obese rats as well. Fenugreek also inhibits the activity of sucrase and alpha-amylase. These enzymes break down large sugars into glucose, thereby lowering the overall sugar concentration in the blood.
6. Harbors Antioxidants
Antioxidants prevent free radical induced damage in the body. In lab tests carried out on rats with damaged livers owing to alcohol exposure, fenugreek helped reduce the concentration of free radicals and increased the concentration of antioxidants. It subsequently reduced damage to enzymes as well. In test subjects with arthritis, fenugreek helped increase vitamin C, glutathione, and antioxidants in the blood. It also lowered the concentrations of enzymes like catalase and glutathione peroxidase, which produce reactive oxygen species.
Related article: What are Antioxidants? Find Antioxidant Answers Here
7. Prevents Obesity
Fenugreek helps lower weight rate by reducing the levels of fat in the blood. Fenugreek contains fiber that creates a feeling of fullness and prevents you from overeating. This fiber also adds bulk to the stool and helps regulate smooth bowel movements. A study conducted on four groups of mice showed a significant decrease in body weight following ingestion of fenugreek over roughly a month.
8. Prevents Cancer Growth
Fenugreek contains saponins. Saponins prevent cancer cell division as well as induced programmed cell death, i.e., apoptosis. Diosgenin is a saponin found in fenugreek that suppresses bone and tumor cell formation. Protodioscin, another saponin, induced apoptosis in human leukemia cells.
In experiments conducted in lab rats, fenugreek reduced the incidence of colon cancer and slowed the progression of breast cancer as well. The results of a meta-analysis involving multiple studies on humans reveal that fenugreek helps prevent leukemia, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and bone cancer. Blood cells from healthy individuals were treated with fenugreek extract and exposed to radiation therapy for cancer. Fenugreek increased the sensitivity of T-cells to the effects of radiation and spurred apoptosis.
Related article: 13 Foods to Help You Ward off Cancer
9. Helps Improve Skin Health
Fenugreek is an excellent and harmless alternative to all contemporary exfoliators. It contains mucilage, a substance that helps soothe and moisturize dry skin without irritating the skin’s surface. One study involved applying fenugreek seed extract infused cream to people’s faces. After six months of use, the results revealed increased moisture in the skin along with reduced melanin content and bumps on the skin. Fenugreek contains salicylic acid that unclogs pores and helps acne.
Fenugreek works within the digestive system to eliminate toxins from the body. Saponins present in fenugreek also help decrease skin cell response to sun exposure revealing lower levels of inflammatory cytokines, i.e., transmission molecules, as well as melanin, which is produced after exposure to ultraviolet light. It also contains carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidant molecules that convert to vitamin A in the body. Fenugreek has also been revealed to enhance healing by reducing inflammation and promoting new cell growth.
10. Protects the Digestive Tract
Fenugreek seeds are rich in mucilage and help prevent constipation by softening the mucous membranes and improving their composition. The seeds also resist excess mucus production at the same time. Mucilage adds bulk to the stools, thereby ensuring smooth bowel movement. Additionally, fenugreek also prevents ulcers and acid reflux.
11. Improves Kidney Health
Fenugreek helps reduce calcium salt levels in the blood. Calcium salts contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Aluminum salts are often employed to treat patients with kidney failure, but they can be quite damaging to the body. However, studies have shown that using aluminum salts in conjunction with fenugreek helps rebalance urea, creatinine, and blood sugar levels. The antioxidant properties of fenugreek help lower reactive oxygen species and improve the overall quality of kidney tissue.
12. Possesses Anti-Microbial Properties
Antimicrobial properties prevent the body from acquiring infections and combating them. Fenugreek seed extract inhibits the growth of bacterial species including E.coli and M. furfur as well as H. pylori. These properties also help accelerate wound healing. Defensin, a protein extracted from fenugreek leaves, helps inhibit the spread and reproduction of two fungal species. This makes fenugreek an excellent ingredient for daily consumption.
13. Fenugreek Improves Lactation
Fenugreek seeds contain hormone precursors that increase milk supply. This outcome was registered in lactating women in less than three days involving a study with breastfeeding mothers. Fenugreek works as a galactagogue, i.e., a substance that promotes the production of breast milk (lactation) in women. Some studies report that drinking fenugreek tea increases milk production and infant weight gain compared to placebos.
14. Helps Testosterone Production
Fenugreek contains diosgenin, which is an important precursor for sex hormone formation. It helps balance sex hormones to help support libido men. Testofen found in fenugreek extract helps improve male sex drive. A study conducted on men with a testosterone deficiency revealed an increase in serum testosterone levels as well as the sperm count.
Side Effects of Fenugreek
Fenugreek comes with very few side effects. However, it can cause bloating, diarrhea, and gas in some. Additionally, it can also result in skin irritation when applied directly. It is also prudent to keep in mind that fenugreek’s anti coagulating properties may result in excessive bleeding in some people. This includes people with underlying bleeding disorders or those who are taking blood-thinning medication or anticoagulant therapy. Signs that you should be mindful of include vomiting, blood, bruising, or passing dark stools.
Fenugreek is an exceptional ingredient that harbors countless benefits that can prevent you from an array of ailments. From skin to kidney to heart to digestive health, there is no aspect of health that this wondrous component does not address. It is important to bear its side effects in mind before you start using it. Therefore, be sure to consult with your physician beforehand. Incorporate fenugreek in your diet to profit from them.