Fennel is a perennial herbaceous plant with a pleasant scent with yellow flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean, but it is now found all over the world. Dried fennel seeds are often used in cooking as an anise flavored spice. In India, it is common to chew a few saunf seeds soon after a delicious meal, not only because it refreshes the breath, but the explosive amounts of nutrients in fennel stimulate the digestion process, treat gas and indigestion. It is a plant native to Mediterranean regions and also widely cultivated around the world near coastal regions and riverbanks. India is said to be the biggest exporter of saunf. The fennel plant has a sweet, licorice-like flavor, a sweet and woody taste, the distinct flavor is due to the goodness of the powerful essential oils.
Types Of Fennel Seeds
Fennel is of two varieties, one is used as an herb –Foeniculun vulgare and the other one is a swollen bulb-like stem that is used as a vegetable –Florence fennel.
According to Ayurveda, saunf seeds have a cooling effect on the body. In these sweltering summer months, it is ideal to drink fennel seed water to calm the body from the heat. Additionally, saunf essential oil is carminative in nature and used in Ayurveda to massage the body as it is known to soothe nerves, improve mood and improve mental health.
Here are some science based benefits of fennel and fennel seeds.
1. Promotes digestive health
The goodness of the volatile essential oils found in fennel seeds is known to trigger the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes, which aid the digestion process. Saunf seeds are beneficial for treating a variety of digestive issues, including heartburn, gas, bloating, and colic in children. The powerful antispasmodic and carminative effects help treat irritable bowel syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and even ulcerative colitis.
2. Regulate blood pressure
Fennel seeds contain potassium. Potassium is known to counter the harmful effects of sodium and regulates the amount of fluid in the bloodstream. It can help lower blood pressure. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the calcium in the seeds may also lower blood pressure. It can help keep the blood vessels toned and can even help maintain the heart rate. The fiber in fennel seeds may also play a role in regulating blood pressure.
3. Painful periods
Taking fennel extract four times a day at the onset of menstruation can reduce pain in girls and young women with painful periods called dysmenorrhea. However, other research shows conflicting results.
4. Respiratory diseases remedies
Huge amounts of phytonutrients found in fennel seeds help clear blocked sinuses and ease asthma symptoms. The expectorant properties help treat respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, cough, and nasal congestion. Inhaling fennel seed vapor is known to relieve asthma and bronchitis. Apart from that, chewing some saunf can also cure a sore throat.
5. Improve liver health
In a study, fennel seeds inhibited liver cancer cells and increased the activity of certain antioxidant cells in the liver. The selenium in fennel seeds can also improve the function of liver enzymes. However, more research is needed in this regard. Some sources suggest that fennel seeds may also help relieve urinary tract infections.
6. Benefit heart health
Eating fennel and its seeds can benefit heart health in several ways because they are high in fiber – a nutrient that lowers certain risk factors for heart disease like high cholesterol. A 1-cup (87-gram) serving of raw fennel bulb contains 3 grams of fiber – 11% of the daily reference value. Diets high in fiber have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. For every additional 7 grams of fiber consumed per day, the risk of heart disease was reduced by 9%. Fennel and its seeds also contain nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which play an important role in keeping your heart healthy.
7. Benefit nursing women
Fennel has been shown to have galactogenic properties, which means that it helps increase milk secretion. Research suggests that specific substances found in anethole, such as dianethol and photoanethol, are responsible for the plant’s galactogenic effects (6 Trusted Source). Fennel can increase milk secretion and blood levels of prolactin – a hormone that signals the body to produce breast milk. However, other studies have found no effect on milk secretion or infant weight gain. Negative side effects, such as poor weight gain and difficulty feeding, have also been reported in infants whose mothers drank lactation teas containing fennel.
8. Weight loss
Aromatic herb not only adds flavor and taste to dishes, but also has the power to reduce weight. Fennel is called “Marathon” in Greek which is derived from “Marino” meaning to get thin. Fennel acts as a metabolic activator triggers metabolism and removes excess fat buildup and helps in weight loss. According to the principles of Ayurveda, saunf seeds are known to normalize appetite and improve digestion. It can boost the metabolism and promote the burning of the accumulated excess fat, thus helps to lose weight. Apart from this, the diuretic properties of fennel seeds are known to increase urine production and remove toxins and excess fluids from the body which can also aid in weight loss.
How Much We Take
- Fennel seeds are heaped with volatile oils than the plant, so it is ideal to take about 1 teaspoon (6 grams) of dried whole fennel seeds in your daily cooking.
- Roasted fennel seeds when added to the dishes give a distinct sweet flavour.
- Adding fennel seeds to the batter of baked goods renders a unique aroma and taste.
- Fennel seeds are also available in the form of supplements and the recommended dosage is 3 capsules (480mg) per day. However, always consult with your physician before use.