India, one of the largest exporters of fennel seeds/saunf (as it is popularly known), uses it voraciously due to its benefits. People from diverse cultures prefer consuming fennel seeds owing to their various medicinal properties. For instance, Indian families often consume fennel seeds after having their meal for healthier and faster digestion.
Fennel seeds are often interlinked to ‘longevity’ and are known for offering a wide range of nutritional properties that improve the human body’s well-being.
Moreover, fennel seeds offer a concentrated source of different minerals vital for regulating blood pressure and water retention inside our bodies. Fennel seeds are highly aromatised.
What are Fennel Seeds?
Fennel seeds closely resemble anise seeds in terms of appearance and are extracted from fennel plants. They contain multiple nutrients like Vitamin K, Vitamin E, manganese, copper, zinc, and phosphorus and are a good source of Vitamin C.
Fennel seeds have a crunchy texture on the outside with a mildly sweet flavour. It is also widely used as a mouth freshener.
One serving of fennel seeds contains 1% of the RDI (Recommended Dietary Intake) for Vitamin C, which acts as an active antioxidant for your body, protecting your skin from any damages caused by the sun, smoke, or pollution.
Nutritional Facts of Fennel Seeds (Saunf)
We usually consume fennel seeds in the quantity of one tablespoon per serving, and the nutrition value it provides is:
Nutritional Value (per teaspoon (heaped)– 6 grams)
- Calories: 19.8
- Fibre: 2.3 grams
- Carbohydrates: 3 grams
- Protein: 0.9 grams
- Fat: 0.6 grams
- Cholesterol: 0 grams
Let’s look at some other details about fennel seeds and understand how the seeds can help you maintain your diet and meet the goals you have set for yourself.
Health Benefits of Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds contain potent antioxidants and phytonutrients that make them a highly nutritious source with many health benefits, which are as follows:
Fennel Seeds Regulate Blood Pressure
The Journal of Food Science published a study that showed that chewing fennel seeds helps in increasing the level of nitrite in saliva.
Nitrite is a natural element that keeps a check on blood pressure levels. In addition to this, fennel seeds are also rich in potassium, which helps control blood pressure and heart rate.
Fennel Seeds are Great for Skin Problems
Regular consumption of fennel seeds provide minerals such as selenium, calcium, and zinc.
These minerals are crucial for balancing hormones while maintaining the oxygen balance in your bloodstream. In addition, these minerals impart a cooling and soothing effect on the skin, providing it with a healthy glow.
Fennel seeds also offer various ayurvedic properties that help treat other skin ailments like rashes and dryness. In addition, applying a fennel seeds paste is highly beneficial for the skin as the minerals above are absorbed by the skin and keep it moist, clean, and healthy.
Studies also show that fennel seeds have anti-ageing properties.
Fennel Purifies Blood
The vital fibre and essential oils in fennel seeds are considered highly useful for flushing out sludge and toxins from our bodies, thereby helping in cleansing the blood. In addition, it further helps in the optimum absorption of nutrients in the body.
The polyphenol antioxidants in fennel seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties that help fight various bacteria and viruses, keeping you safe from various diseases.
Fennel helps in Improving Eyesight.
Adding two tablespoons of fennel seeds to your diet regularly can help enhance your vision.
Studies suggest that due to the high amount of vitamin A in fennel seeds, they help in improving your vision. In addition, people in ancient times used fennel seed extracts for treating people affected with glaucoma.
Fennel Reduces Water Retention and Suppress Appetite
Regular consumption of fennel tea helps in flushing out excess fluids from your body. Therefore, fennel tea works like a diuretic. Moreover, it also helps reduce the chances of urinary tract diseases and remove toxins from the kidney. It also includes diaphoretic properties that help in stimulating perspiration.
One more advantage of drinking fennel tea is that it helps in suppressing appetite. Consuming one cup of fennel tea releases essential oils, which helps in suppressing hunger. Many dietitians suggest fennel tea before meals to suppress the calorie intake for weight loss.
Vital for Bloating, IBS, Indigestion, and Constipation
Fennel seeds can act as a vital source for curing constipation, bloating, and indigestion. It is because of the presence of essential oils like anethole, fenchone, and estragole.
These oils contribute to anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. In addition, these elements help significantly in breaking down the food and keep your digestive system functioning smoothly. People who suffer from IBS would highly benefit from the fennel seed extracts.
The oils also help in kick-starting digestion by promoting the functioning and production of gastric juices and enzymes, keeping your digestive tract healthy.
Fennel Reduces Risk of Cancer
Fennel seeds contain powerful, free radical scavenging properties. Furthermore, due to antioxidants, fennel seeds help neutralise free radicals responsible for developing cancer. Hence, it helps beat oxidative stress and protects the body from different cancers like breasts, stomach, and skin cancer. In addition, it offers a chemo modulatory effect on the patient.
Fennel for good memory
As per research, fennel seeds possess multiple neuropharmacological activities. Therefore, nutritionists recommend children to eat fennel seeds as it is known to enhance memory and intelligence. In addition, the plant extracts show memory-enhancing effects.
Good for Liver (Hepatoprotective activity)
Fennel essential oils are known to be good for the liver. In addition, the consumption of fennel seed essential oils may decrease levels of AST, ALP, ALT and bilirubin. A study further strengthens the claim.
Fennel Seeds for Weight Loss
Weight loss is just one of the various advantages of adding fennel seeds to your everyday diet. These tiny seeds have a ton of powerful nutrients that keep the human body healthy. Here are some ways by which fennel helps in reducing the few extra pounds in your body.
Fennel seeds are often considered an essential food item to include in diets for losing weight. Consuming it regularly and following an active and healthy lifestyle helps in losing extra pounds.
Fennel seeds are very rich in dietary fibres, which slow down the digestion process. It means that after consuming one serving of fennel seeds, you won’t get hungry anytime soon, which can avoid overeating.
Additionally, with the presence of antioxidants, fennel seeds help in improving the body’s absorption power for vitamins and minerals. Another advantage of the antioxidants is that they help break down the fats and carbs in the body, helping you avoid gaining extra pounds.
Fennel seeds also have diuretic properties that will help you flush out the toxins and other harmful liquids from your body. A much more preferred alternative to fennel seeds tea is a fennel seed drink called the Variyali Sharbat.
This tangy drink is common in India and is usually consumed in the summers to keep the body hydrated and cool. Variyali Sharbat helps in weight loss and also helps in detoxifying the body, getting rid of acidity and reducing stress.
Fennel Seeds: Healthy Recipes
The benefits of the Variyali Sharbat are due to an endless list of antioxidants present in fennel seeds. These antioxidants include zeaxanthin, lutein, beta-carotene, chlorine, manganese, zinc, selenium, phosphorus etc. They are known for protecting the body against oxidative stress and improving the human body’s metabolic rate.
Here’s the recipe to make one glass of Variyali Sharbat:
- 1 cup of fennel seeds
- 2 cups of water (500ml)
- 1.5 cups of rock sugar
- Five soaked cardamom
- Black salt
- Ice cubes
- Grind fennel seeds and cardamom into a fine powder in a food processor or mixer grinder.
- Now soak the fennel and cardamom powder for nearly 8 hours in 2 cups of water.
- Next, ground the rock sugar into a fine powder.
- Strain the soaked fennel and cardamom powder liquid into a container
- Add a pinch of black salt to the container
- Add the powdered sugar and stir for 30 seconds
- Serve in a glass with ice cubes
Nutritional value of a normal glass (240 ml) of Variyali Sharbat:
- Carbohydrates: 2.9g
- Proteins: 2.9g
- Fibres: 7.3g
- Magnesium: 15 mg
- Vitamin B-6: 0.041 mg
- Iron: 0.64 mg
- Vitamin C: 10.4 mg
- Calcium: 43 mg
- Vitamin A: 838 IU
- Sodium : 45 mg
- Potassium: 360 mg
- Crushed Fennel Seeds: 1 tbsp
- Water: 1½ cups
- Lightly Crushed Ginger: ¼ inch
- Mint Leaves: 3-4
- Honey: ½ tsp
- Add the water to a pot and let it come to a boil.
- Now, add crushed fennel seeds and ginger.
- Let the water simmer to medium flame till it evaporates to 1 cup.
- Turn off the gas flame, and strain the tea into a cup.
- Add honey and mint leaves, and mix well.
- Serve hot.
The tea will have a subtle taste, and its aroma is excellent. It is perfect for people having digestive issues like constipation. It will ease out your bowel movement and will give you a fresh breath. Add it into your daily diet by having the tea during morning or evening. In addition, it will help you relax and refresh your mind.
Fennel Seeds: Precautions
Fennel seeds have many health benefits that make us incorporate them into our diets, but the following are the precautions to avoid severe and fatal conditions.
- Avoid fennel seeds during pregnancy. Regularly using fennel seeds during pregnancy leads to preterm birth.
- Women who are breastfeeding must avoid having fennel tea. That is because breastfeeding infants after drinking fennel tea can damage the child’s nervous system.
- People with allergies or sensitivity to plant seeds should not consume fennel seeds as they may cause an allergic reaction.
- People with bleeding disorders must avoid fennel seeds consumption as they are known to slow down blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding and bruising.
- People with hormone-sensitive conditions like breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis or uterine fibroids must avoid fennel seeds because they act like estrogen and can worsen these conditions.
- People with kidney disorders must avoid fennel seeds consumption because fennel seeds are high in potassium. Damaged kidneys might find it difficult to filter them and make the condition worse.
Fennels seeds are quite popular in India. It is because these seeds can miraculously treat an endless list of digestive ailments that include colic in infants, intestinal gas, heartburn, and more.
You can even use the seeds as a mouth freshener after you have a hearty meal. Hence, it is safe to say that fennel seeds offer a wide range of benefits, which is why they are popular.
So, the next time you’re considering incorporating a food item into your diet with multiple health benefits, you should consider fennel seeds. These seeds would fit in perfectly with your long term or short term health goals.
It is also advisable to keep in mind the precautions and side effects while consuming the fennel seeds.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Is eating fennel seeds good for you?
A. Yes. Eating fennel seeds has many benefits for your health. For example, it helps improve digestion, purifies the blood, regulates blood pressure, improves eyesight, treats IBS and constipation, reduces cancer risk, suppresses appetite etc. It also aids weight loss and is suitable for treating skin problems.
Q. Is it OK to eat fennel seeds every day?
A. Yes, you can eat one teaspoon of fennel seeds every day. Avoid excess consumption.
Q. What are the disadvantages of eating fennel seeds?
A. Fennel seeds have many benefits, but you need to be very careful while consuming the fennel seeds because it has disadvantages too. For example, excess consumption may lead to premature thelarche, worsen kidney disorders, slow down the clotting process, worsen hormone-sensitive conditions, cause allergies, lead to preterm birth or damage the baby’s nervous system if you have fennel when breastfeeding.
Q. What is fennel seed used for?
A. People use fennel seeds for various purposes. Some of them are relieving periods’ pain, combating bad breath, improving digestion, and weight loss.
Q. Can we drink fennel water daily?
A. Yes. Drinking fennel water every day is beneficial if consumed rationally.
Q. Does fennel seeds reduce weight?
A. Yes. Fennel seeds may help you lose weight if you follow it with regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Q. Is fennel seeds bad for kidneys?
A. Excessive use of fennels can also cause harm to already damaged kidneys as they are high in potassium, and the damaged kidneys cannot filter potassium properly.
Q. Can fennel seeds stop periods?
A. No. Fennel seeds act like estrogen. Hence, fennel seeds help with irregular periods and help maintain hormonal balance and promote ovulation.
Q. Does fennel make you fart?
A. Fennel seeds aid digestion and help relax the passages in the gastrointestinal tract. It allows the gas to pass and give relief from bloating and stomach cramps.
Q. What is the best time to drink fennel tea?
A. Drinking fennel tea at night, before bed or in the morning is the best time to drink it as it helps combat bad breath. However, if you drink it right after you wake up in the morning, it will aid in weight loss.
Q. How much fennel seeds should I eat daily?
A. Eating 1-2 tsp of fennel seeds is recommended to reap its benefits.
Q. What are the side effects of eating fennel seeds?
A. It can cause stomach aches or ulcers, nausea, vomiting, itchy skin, allergies, chest pain, bruising and bleeding, premature thelarche, and worse hormonal disorders in people with breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and filtration process difficult for people with kidney disorders.
Q. What are the benefits of drinking fennel water?
A. Drinking fennel water every day can improve digestion, relieve stomach pain. In addition, it treats bloating, constipation and indigestion, improves metabolism, aids in regular bowel movements, aids weight loss, improves eyesight, regulates appetite, water retention, purifies the blood and helps in providing sound sleep.