Fennel is a perennial hard plant grown in coastal areas and river banks. It is an aromatic green plant that grows up to 2.5 meters in height with yellow flowers at the top. The plant has bulb like roots and brown or green seeds turning into grey over a period of time. The seeds are aromatic and taste like anise.
The root (bulbs), foliage and seeds find place in traditional culinary. They are used in preparation of medicines too.
Fennel seeds have high energy value in addition to the number of vitamins and minerals present in them.
In 100gm. fennel seeds we find 345 calories of energy, 52 gm. carbohydrates, 40 gm. dietary fiber, and 14.9 gm. fat of which 9.9 gm is monounsaturated fat and 15.5 gm. Protein.
The same amount of fennel seeds contain Niacin 6.1 mg (41% Recommended Daily Amount –RDA), Thiamine 0.41mg (36% RDA), Vitamin B (6) 0.47 mg (36% RDA), Riboflavin 0.35 mg (29% RDA) and vitamin C 21mg (25% RDA).
High quantities of minerals are present in fennel seeds. 100gm. fennel seeds provide Manganese 6.5 mg (310% RDA), Iron 18.5 mg(145% RDA), Calcium 1196 mg(120% RDA), Magnesium 385 mg (108% RDA), Phosphorous 487 mg (70% RDA), Zinc 4 mg (42% RDA) and Copper 1.067 mg (118% RDA).
Electrolytes present are, Potassium 1694 mg (36% RDA) and sodium 88 mg (6% RDA).
Wow – Right?!
Health benefits of fennel seeds
Fennel seeds are popular throughout the world in preparation of mouth fresheners, tooth pastes, antacids and in desserts, in addition to various culinary uses. More than the common uses, fennel seeds provide lot of health benefits. Some of them are:
It is a common habit of people to chew fennel seeds either in raw form or sugar coated after each meal to eliminate bad breath and as mouth fresheners. But the more important benefit is that the seeds contain essential oils with contents that stimulate production of digestive and gastric juices. These seeds reduce inflammation in the stomach and intestines leading to proper absorption of nutrients from the food consumed. Anti-acidic properties in the seeds reduces digestive disorders and facilitates smooth bowel movement thereby preventing constipation.
Chewing fennel seeds before meals creates a sense of fullness in the stomach and suppresses appetite. If after meals, the seeds boost metabolism and breaks down fats. With its diuretic property, the seeds reduce retention of water in the body by causing frequent urination which prevents temporary weight gain.
Benefits regarding menstruation
The emmenagogue properties in fennel seeds promote and regulate menstrual flow. The phytoestrogens in the seeds are helpful to women in preventing disorders like pre-menstrual syndrome, menopausal disorder and enlargement of breasts. The seeds are also useful as a remedy for painful menstruation.
Anethole is a phytonutrient present in fennel seeds with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. This phytonutrient prevents breast cancer. Quercetin and limonene in the seeds have anticancinogenic property which prevents cancer formation. Flavanoids, anti-oxidants and the dietary fiber in the seeds prevents the mucusa of the colon from cancer. In addition to this, quercetin and kaempferol present in the seeds removes harmful and cancer causing free radicals from the body and protects from cancer and aging.
High amount of Iron is present in fennel seeds which improves the haemoglobin level in the blood preventing anemic conditions. In addition to this, an amino acid called histidine present in the seeds are useful in treating anemia.
Flatulence in infants
Aspartic acid in fennel seeds have carminative property. This property is helpful as an anti-flatulent agent in people of all ages. Particularly the seeds are put to use in medicines for infants due to the presence of aspartic acid. The effect of the acid is to reduce symptoms of flatulence and non-ulcer dyspepsia in babies.
Dietary fiber in the seeds helps to maintain good cholesterol levels in the blood. The seeds are effective in stimulating elimination of LDL cholesterol and maintaining the total cholesterol ratio to protect the heart from heart attacks, strokes and artherosclerosis. High levels of potassium present in fennel seeds reduces blood pressure which in turn prevents occurrence of heart related problems.
Vitamin C and amino acids like Arsinine in fennel seeds protects the eyes from inflammation. Antioxidants present along with detoxifiers and stimulants in the essential oil from the seeds prevents eye problems. The flavonoids in the seeds protects pigment cells and keeps eyes healthy.
Being a diuretic, fennel seeds increase urination and removes toxic substances from the body. The seeds are known to improve milk in lactating mothers. Regular consumption of the seeds prevents hair fall and sharpens memory. Consuming the water extract of fennel seeds reduces body heat and keeps the body cool particularly during summer.
How to consume
You can eat fennel seeds raw or dried, but in small quantities only. The seeds find their use as an ingredient in side dishes. You can consume the seeds with sugar coating as well. Water extract and oil extract are also useful in medical formulations.
We suggest to only consume moderate quantities of fennel seeds at a time. Excess consumption may cause breathing difficulty, neurological problems and increase heartbeat.