Many of us will only defer a passing nod to fennel seeds, taking it for granted when it comes to us at the end of a meal at an Indian restaurant. Little do most people know that the potent health benefits of these tiny, aromatic offerings from the parsley family. Fennel seeds are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients which promote health and well-being no matter what your age or sex.
Digestive Health Benefits of Fennel Seeds
Fennel Seeds Health Benefits
It’s no accident that fennel seeds are served at the end of a meal. When you chew on fennel seeds, the juices released aid immensely in the digestive process. Even the remaining husk acts as fibre which, as you know, is the key to regular bowel movements. That’s why fennel seeds are a blessing for those heavy meals which you just know are going to be hard on your system. They are so safe and gentle on the body that the juice of fennel seeds can even be used to treat indigestion in very small children and babies (always under a doctor’s supervision). But it’s not just getting it all down that the seeds help with. Fennel seeds are a balm for other digestive issues as well such as
- Mild nausea
- Acts as a diuretic
Fennel seeds also help your body to better absorb and assimilate the nutrients from the food you eat. What’s more, they impart a subtle sweet flavour to your breath, thus helping to alleviate the strong smells that are inevitable after a flavourful meal. Much more effective than chewing gum, and way healthier too.
For years, alternative health practitioners have recommended fennel seeds for colic, bronchitis, coughs, cold and infections of the respiratory tract. It is thought that fennel seeds reduce the secretions in the nose, throat and lungs, thus offering relief from these illnesses.
With cancer on the rise for the past fifty years, it’s no wonder that any food with antioxidant properties is making headlines. Although fennel seed haven’t made the news quite yet, they boast antioxidant properties that could stand their own against other super-foods. In fact, fennel has concentrated forms of antioxidants which, according to studies, reduces tumours and also renders ineffective the potency of existing cancer cells. The study was conducted on breast cancer cells in the first stage of cancer only. Whether or not the antioxidants in fennel seeds can affect cancer in advanced stages has yet to be seen but the results look promising.
Alleviates Blood Pressure
Regular, moderate doses of fennel seeds has been shown to reduce blood pressure because of its diuretic properties, and its admirable content of potassium content, calcium and fiber – all of which are needed for healthy blood pressure levels.
Heart Healthy Herb
What’s good for your blood will inevitable be good for your heart too since high blood pressure is very closely linked to cardiovascular disease.
Freedom from Menstrual Cramps…
Well, perhaps not for everybody, but fennel does indeed do quite well when it comes to managing menstrual cramps. If you have irregular periods and are looking for an herbal remedy, daily fennel seeds can help there too.
…and other Painful Afflictions
Fennel seeds are thought to remove the toxicity that causes inflammation thus reducing the discomfort that comes from arthritis, rheumatism and back pain.
Stimulates Brain Function
Studies reveal that fennel seeds may prevent the degenerative brain impairment brought on by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by boosting activity in the brain.
Calms you Down Too
Ayurveda prescribes fennel seeds to calm the nerves as it balances out the doshas no matter what your particular constitution. Because they boost brain function, they also make you more alert which makes you more focussed which in turn, as any yogi will tell you, leads to lower stress levels and a better outlook on life.
How to Incorporate Fennel Seeds in Your Diet
Tea made from fennel seeds is really a boon because apart from imparting all the above health benefits it also cools down the body. Fennel seeds can also be chewed raw. In India, you get sugar-coated versions of fennel seeds – some with plan white sugar and other more colorful varieties as well. However, it is better to go with the real thing rather than add more sugar to your diet.
Fennel seeds are also a fantastic spice for food imparting mouth-watering flavour to meat, vegetables, grains and pulses alike. You can use a ground-up powder or simply temper the seeds (fry lightly in very little oil until the aroma is released) before adding to your recipes.
Oil made from fennel seeds is also available for use in food.
Overall, fennel seeds are pretty safe for consumption, but here are a few situations in which you should be slightly wary of the herb.
- The active compounds in fennel seeds are known to cause stimulations in the uterus. That is why it is better if pregnant women stay away from the herb altogether. However, fennel seeds are also great for increasing the supply of milk so you may want to consider taking them while breast-feeding, especially if you have difficulties lactating. But even then, it should be taken in the limited quantities. In fact, very large quantities can actually reduce milk production. There’s a pretty fine balance you have to maintain to make sure you don’t overdo it. See your health care provider for the exact dose that is right for you.
- Since they may behave like estrogen according to preliminary research, fennel seeds are best avoided if you suffer from health conditions which can deteriorate with more of that hormone including breast and ovarian cancer, and basically any issues with the female reproductive system.
- Fennel seeds may interfere with the action of certain types of medication prescribed for epilepsy.
- If you are allergic to carrots or celery, it is very likely that you will be allergic to fennel as well so get tested before you started including it in your diet.