An aromatic spice, fennel is commonly known as “Saunf” in Hindi. You’ve probably noticed that multiple restaurants serve fennel seeds as a mouth freshener. In fact, the majority of Indian families have a common practice of chewing a few fennel seeds after a meal but do you know that it has other health benefits too?
Fennel has been extensively used for its inherent medicinal and culinary properties since ancient times. Fennel seeds are a storehouse of essential vitamins, nutrients and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A, fibre, potassium, manganese, zinc, iron, and calcium. They contain polyphenols such as rosmarinic acid, chlorogenic acid, quercetin and apigenin. In addition, fennel seeds are characterised by powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that enable them to treat various health conditions.
Here are 8 lesser-known therapeutic benefits of fennel seeds:
- Promotes digestive health
Fennel stimulates the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes which facilitate the digestive process. The strong anti-spasmodic and carminative effects of fennel seeds help in treating flatulence, heartburn, bloating and conditions like IBS and GERD. The high content of dietary fibre in fennel seeds helps in regulating bowel movements. In addition, it works effectively when it comes to preventing as well as treating constipation. What’s more, fennel also acts as a natural antacid.
- Aids weight loss
In addition to a healthy diet and good activity levels, you can use fennel seeds to lose weight. First of all, by facilitating the digestion process, fennel seeds enhance the body’s metabolism which is the foremost requirement to boost the fat-burning process. Secondly, due to being a rich source of fibre, fennel seeds provide satiety and reduce hunger which helps avoid overeating. In addition, fennel seeds are diuretic in nature, helping you flush out various toxins and extra fluid from the body.
- Controls Blood Pressure
Fennel seeds are a decent source of potassium, a nutrient that helps in naturally controlling the acid-base balance, regulates the heart rate, dilates the blood vessels and stabilizes blood pressure. Chewing fennel seeds stimulates the release of nitrite which also acts as a natural remedy to maintain blood pressure.
- Boosts fertility
Fennel, being rich in phytoestrogens which mimic the female hormone oestrogen, helps in stimulating and regulating the menstrual cycle. This can have a direct impact on fertility.
- Revitalizes and adds glow to the skin
Due to its anti-microbial properties, fennel has been used since ancient times to treat various skin issues. Its antioxidant properties help combat the free radicals that attack healthy skin. It revitalizes and adds radiance to the skin. Fennel also possesses anti-ageing properties which help in reducing wrinkles and fine lines.
- Improves eyesight
Fennel, being a rich source of vitamin A, promotes healthy vision. The anethole compound found in fennel seeds is known to improve the protein content of the lens, slowing down the progression of cataract. In addition, it also helps in treating watery and inflamed eyes.
- Promotes breast milk production
The anethole present in fennel seeds has natural galactagogue properties that mimic the function of the oestrogen hormone which increases breast milk production in nursing mothers.
- Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
Fennel is known to be anti-osteoporotic in nature. The presence of phytoestrogens, which mimic the hormone oestrogen, plays a crucial role in bone health. Oestrogen guards the bones against fractures and minerals such as calcium and phosphorus fortifies the bones. Thus, fennel consumption is beneficial for bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
To reap the amazing benefits of this flavourful herb, incorporate 2 to 3 grams of fennel seeds in your daily diet.
Word of Caution: Since fennel is rich in phytoestrogens, pregnant women should avoid consuming it as it might interfere with the normal foetal development.
Here are some easy ways of including fennel seeds in your diet:
- Boil 1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds in 2 cups of water for 5 to 7 minutes. Strain the mixture and enjoy.
- You can use fennel seeds as a mouth freshener by dry roasting 2 to 3 tablespoons with 1 to 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds and a handful of sundried curry leaves (crushed). Store this mix in an airtight jar and have a tablespoon post meals.
- Adding fennel seeds powder to regular pinnis can be beneficial for lactating mothers.
- In summers, one can have fennel seeds to their sherbet which acts as a cooling agent.