Fun Facts about Fennel

Being from India, I always took fennel for granted. It was just there. My mom cooked with it, you could find it in a bowl at the exit of every restaurant in India (in place of the mints we see in America) and it was available everywhere.  I never understood its health benefits... until now.

Fennel has been used as a medicinal and culinary herb since the times of the ancient Greeks. For those who have trouble with poor digestion, gas, belching, and bloating, a few ounces of fennel seeds or simple cup of fennel tea after a heavy meal can be the most effective remedy.  This explains why you can grab a spoon of fennel seeds when leaving any restaurant in India.  It's known for its licorice type favor and it's source of Potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, fiber and pytonutrient content.  And who knew that it does so much more... 

1. May prevent cancer- research has shown that the fennel seed extract can not only inhibit the growth of tumors due to its flavonoids, alkaloids, and phenols, but that it can even be somewhat chemo-protective against the harmful effects of radiation during cancer treatment. However fennel does have mild estrogen like properties so those with estrogen positive cancer may want to limit intake. 

2. Regulates Blood pressure- Fennel has a high source of potassium.  Low sodium intake is important to regulate blood pressure, however so is the increase in potassium due to the role of vasodilation (the dilation and contraction of blood vessels).  High blood pressure can lead to a variety of illnesses like stroke and heart attack.

3. Helps Skin- Because Fennel contains so much Vitamin C and Vitamin C is essential to collagen, the skin's support system, it works in our bodies as an antioxidant to help prevent skin damage and has the ability to improve overall skin texture.

4. Helps produce breast milk- The seeds increase milk production by stimulating the action of the hormone prolactin. This is the hormone that controls milk production by the mammary glands.  It's believed that it is more effective when combined with fenugreek.

Fennel seeds have officially made their way into my daily regime. Here are some ways you can incorporate them into yours:

  • Eat a spoonful after every meal- remember indigestion and breath freshener
  • Infuse in your regular cup of tea
  • Add it to water 
  • Make fennel tea (steep fennel seeds in boiling water for 5-10 minutes.  Strain and serve)