In recent times, obesity has become a significant challenge. With the information regarding the health risks of obesity and associated causes, people are moving towards making changes in their lifestyles. People worldwide are trying to change their lifestyle by modifying their dietary habits and meal plans and following various exercise regimens.
Lifestyle changes have indeed become essential for losing weight and preventing the progression of various metabolic diseases. However, at times we do not realise the importance of crucial ingredients in our kitchen. They go beyond adding flavour and tastes to our meals. For example, multiple ingredients like ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper that are usually available in our kitchen can help us get rid of the extra weight and contribute to our weight loss journey. However, we need to be aware of the various healthy ways to use them to reap maximum benefits.
The article talks about one such ingredient, Saunf (fennel seeds), that can contribute to making our weight loss journey effortless. It also focuses on using Saunf (fennel seeds) water to contribute to weight loss effectively.
Fennel Seeds: An Overview
Foeniculum vulgare, popularly known as fennel, is a traditional and medicinal herb. Most of us know fennel seeds for their yellow-coloured flower, feathery leaves, hollow stem, and aromatic seeds. However, you can use two types of fennel seeds for medicinal and culinary purposes- bitter fennel and sweet fennel. In addition, you can use its roots, leaves, seeds, and pollen for different purposes such as culinary purposes, essential oil extraction, and medicinal purposes.
Fennel seeds are aromatic and have a sweet anise-like flavour. They are natural flavouring and seasoning agents and act as organoleptic flavour correctors. Furthermore, you can use fennel seeds as a traditional spice in various foods such as curries, sauces, bread, pastries, pickles, meat & fish dishes, ice cream, baked goods, and salad.
For ages, people in Indian households have preferred eating fennel seeds after meals as a healthy practice. Indians believe that it helps improve digestion and maximise the absorption of nutrients. Furthermore, research shows that fennel seeds are full of phytonutrients such as flavonoids, phenolic compounds, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. These nutrients help treat digestive, endocrine, respiratory, and reproductive systems disorders.
You can eat fennel seeds in various ways. Besides the culinary use as a flavouring agent in your meals, you can eat them as an add-on to your salads, snacks, stewed, boiled, grilled, baked vegetables and lean protein. However, one of the best and least-known ways of consuming fennel seeds is the traditional Saunf (fennel) water.
Nutritional Properties of Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds are low in calories and are rich in phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, amino acids, antioxidants, and various volatile compounds that benefit health. In addition, they are a good source of water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and pantothenic acid. They also contain an adequate amount of other vitamins such as vitamin A and K. They are also rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese, vital for various metabolic processes. Each compound present in fennel seeds has different medicinal and nutritional attributes.
Nutritional composition of fennel seeds as per 100 g serving:
- Moisture: 8.81 g
- Energy: 345 kcal
- Protein: 15.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 52.3 g
- Dietary Fibre: 39.8 g
- Calcium: 1200 mg
- Iron: 18.5 mg
- Magnesium: 385 mg
Fennel Seeds for Weight Loss
Although fennel seeds offer various health benefits, one of the most significant benefits is helping lose weight. Therefore, several nutritionists and dieticians recommend adding fennel seeds to your meals in the healthiest ways. Fennel seeds are an excellent remedy to combat obesity and excess body weight. Fennel seeds can assist in weight loss in various ways.
Suppresses Your Appetite
As per a study on healthy obese women, researchers found that fennel seed tea can make you feel satiated and full for more extended periods. As a result, you consume fewer calories, which helps boost your weight loss process. However, the studies on the effect of fennel seed tea on appetite suppression are limited and require further studies to reach conclusive evidence.
Fennel seeds contain trans-anethole that acts on neuromodulators, resulting in suppressed appetite. Studies show that using fennel seeds oil for aromatherapy can help manage appetite-satiety rhythm by suppressing appetite and increasing satiety.
It is no surprise that eating fibrous foods lead to the consumption of fewer calories by suppressing your appetite and making you satiated. Therefore, eating fibre-rich fennel seeds helps prevent hunger pangs, cravings, and overeating. In addition, fibre-rich foods help reduce fat storage, directly helping weight loss. A study suggests that increasing fibre intake can help reduce visceral fat, especially in the belly region.
Diuretic Action and Metabolic Rate
The diuretic nature of fennel seeds promotes the production of urine. It removes toxins and harmful fluids from the body. It flushes out extra water with sodium and helps with water retention. Furthermore, it detoxifies the body by flushing out toxic substances, which indirectly helps with weight loss. However, contradictory studies demand healthcare professionals’ or nutritionists’ advice before adding diuretics to your diet to treat obesity.
As per research, factors that decrease resting metabolic rate lead to difficulty maintaining weight or weight loss, or frank weight gain. On the contrary, anything that increases resting metabolic rate would facilitate weight loss and maintenance of weight loss. Fennel seeds contain 0.47 mg B6 in 100 grams fennel seeds and 1 tbsp which is usually consumed has 0.027 mg which is hardly anything. The Antioxidants, vitamins and minerals present in fennel seeds helps to reduce oxidative stress by reducing free radical activity, which helps to improve metabolism. helps burn more calories during activity and rest. It also increases the basal metabolic rate of the body. In addition, consuming fennel seeds promotes thermogenesis which stimulates the metabolization of stored fats. Hence, it leads to healthy weight loss.
Fennel seeds contain various volatile compounds such as anethole and fenchone that promote the secretion of digestive and gastric enzymes. Secretion of gastric enzymes promotes an effective digestion process. Fennel seeds promote effective absorption of the nutrients in the body. Improved digestion also helps in shedding extra weight.
A literature review shows that obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with increased oxidative stress in most studies. Fennel Seeds have an abundance of antioxidants like selenium, zinc, phosphorus, beta-carotene, lutein, manganese, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, and other phenolic substances. These antioxidants are known for their free radical scavenging activity, protecting the body from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress results in cellular damage, metabolic diseases, and obesity. Thus, the antioxidant activity of fennel seeds lowers the risk of metabolic disorders and helps in weight loss.
Healthy Ways to Use Saunf (Fennel Seeds) for Weight Loss
The culinary and medicinal use of fennel seeds depends on the preferences, traditional values, medical objectives etc. For example, you can use them in salads, soup, pickles, and baked goods because of their aroma and sweet flavour. However, you can use them in specific ways to help lose weight. The most effective ways of using fennel seeds for weight loss for the treatment of obesity are as follows:
Saunf (Fennel Seeds) Water for Weight Loss
- Fennel Seeds: 1-2 tbsp
- Water: 1 glass
- Add the fennel seeds to the glass of water and keep it overnight (ensure that you cover it)
- Drink the water on an empty stomach every morning
Besides offering all the benefits of Saunf, Saunf water also acts as an excellent detoxifier. It detoxifies your body of harmful toxins and improves your digestion. It also acts as a blood purifier. You can drink one glass of Saunf water on an empty stomach in the morning and one glass in the evening. However, you should consult a nutritionist or dietician to know the exact quantity that would suit you. Also, if you have a medical condition, you should only drink fennel seeds after consulting with your doctor.
Saunf (Fennel Seeds) Tea for Weight Loss
- Fennel Seeds: 1 tsp
- Water: 1 glass
- Honey: 1 tsp (optional)
- Add water to a pan and boil it.
- Put 1 tsp of fennel seeds to the boiled water (don’t boil the seeds as it can lead to loss of nutrients)
- Add honey if you want to add a bit of sweetness to your tea.
Drinking fennel tea works wonders on the skin and hair because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. You can have a cup of fennel tea twice a day.
Other Health Benefits of Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds contain various phytonutrients, volatile compounds, polyphenols, minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids. These nutrients offer various health benefits. In addition, fennel seeds have several pharmacological properties like anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial, antimutagenic etc. Furthermore, fennel seeds offer antipyretic, antispasmodic, cardiovascular, anti-tumour, hepatoprotective, hypoglycaemic, and hypolipidemic benefits.
Fennel seeds help to reduce elevated cholesterol levels, relieve flatulence, treat hypertension, improve eyesight, prevent glaucoma, clear mucus from the airways, speed up digestion, reduce gas, and detoxify the body.
People have been using fennel seeds as galactagogue agents for ages, which increase the quantity and quality of milk. It helps to improve the milk flow of breastfeeding mothers. It increases the amount of prolactin hormone, which is essential for milk production. Irregular menses constitute a significant problem many women face due to an unhealthy lifestyle. Eating fennel seeds promotes a regular menstrual cycle. It possesses anti-dysmenorrhoea properties and relieves the recurrent pain caused due to uterine contractions.
Relieves Gastrointestinal Disorders
Herbal and Ayurvedic science uses fennel seeds to treat various gastrointestinal disorders. The antispasmodic and anti colitic properties make it an excellent herbal remedy for stomachache, flatulence, constipation, and colic conditions. Furthermore, it stimulates gastrointestinal motility and relieves constipation.
Research has shown that its mild carminative properties help relieve infantile colic and flatulence. It also helps in easing abdominal pain, bloating, and gas distension. In addition, it supports healthy intestinal bacteria and stimulates the production of digestive and gastric enzymes, which prevents indigestion. Fennel seeds also facilitate the proper absorption of nutrients. The antacid properties of fennel seeds ease heartburn, acid reflux or GERD.
Relieves Respiratory Afflictions
Most people know that fennel seeds can act as a mouth freshener and help get rid of bad breath. However, the respiratory effects of fennel seeds go beyond that. Fennel seeds are a good remedy for treating cough, bronchitis and lung abscesses. It stimulates ciliary motility of the respiratory tract and relaxes bronchial smooth muscles. As a result, it is beneficial for treating bronchial and bronchopulmonary disorders. Moreover, fennel seeds also help treat cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Studies have investigated the effects of fennel on acute lung injury. Fennel seeds have suppressed the production of inflammatory cytokines, effectively reducing bronchial inflammation. In addition, they help relax bronchial smooth muscles, which is extremely helpful for treating asthmatic conditions. When you take fennel seed extract and honey, it helps to eliminate mucus and sputum through the air passage.
Improves Brain Health
Fennel seeds have antistress and anxiolytic properties, which are helpful to ease the feeling of anxiety and stress-related disorders. In addition, it is rich in potassium, which helps to improve brain functions, mental functioning, and cognitive abilities. It also possesses nootropic properties that increase concentration, memory, and cognitive performance. Furthermore, it stimulates mental functioning such as creativity, motivation, and attention.
Research proves that fennel possesses numerous neuropharmacological activities. As a result, it benefits against neurodegenerative disorders related to declining cognitive abilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Improves Liver Health
Studies indicate that fennel extracts have hepatoprotective properties, which are beneficial against acute liver toxicity. It effectively clears the obstruction of the liver, spleen, and gallbladder. Furthermore, herbal medicines also use it as a helpful agent in fighting jaundice conditions. It also protects the liver from chemical or drug-induced toxicity.
Fennel seeds possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, it has inhibitory effects against acute inflammatory diseases and various allergic reactions. In addition, the medicinal herb also prevents radical damage to the cells, benefiting people from metabolic disorders. Hence, fennel seeds help fight issues like carcinogenesis, inflammatory diseases, coronary vascular disease, and ageing. Furthermore, fennel seeds help protect the skin from cellular damage and delay the progression of ageing signs such as premature wrinkles, fine lines, and skin sagging.
Studies show that fennel possesses anti hirsutism activity that helps treat idiopathic hirsutism. Idiopathic hirsutism is the growth of male pattern hair due to androgen sensitivity in females.
Potential Side Effects of Saunf (Fennel)
Fennel seeds do not show any significant side effects as the amount of fennel consumed in food is non-toxic. But some people who are allergic to carrots, mugwort, and celery might be allergic to fennel too. Common side effects of fennel seeds are difficulty breathing, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, rashes, and itchy skin.
Studies have shown that in some cases, regular consumption can make your skin sensitive to the sun and other environmental stressors. In addition, its diuretic properties help flush out toxins and increase the amount of urine. However, with increased removal of sodium through the urine, sometimes it may lead to dehydration.
Pregnant women should avoid using fennel seeds because of their estrogenic effects and uterine stimulant activity. Furthermore, people with epilepsy or seizure disorders should refrain from consuming it as it can worsen the conditions.
People with bleeding disorders should not consume fennel as it might increase the risk of bleeding or bruising of the skin. In addition, fennel contains estragole, a naturally occurring cancer-causing substance. Hormone-sensitive afflictions are associated with uterine cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. Therefore, consuming fennel seeds in these conditions may aggravate the symptoms.
Fennel is a traditional herb available in almost everyone’s kitchen for its flavouring and seasoning properties. It is also known for its medicinal properties for treating and managing metabolic diseases. However, one of the best health benefits that fennel can offer is its weight loss properties.
Ayurveda and herbal science also recommend Saunf water and fennel seeds to treat obesity and unhealthy weight gain. However, consuming fennel seeds is not enough. It won’t help you lose weight if you do not incorporate regular exercise and a balanced diet into your routine. Only drinking Saunf water cannot help you shed those extra kilos. But, it can help boost your weight loss process. Furthermore, before adding Saunf water to your daily routine, you should consult a physician and a nutritionist/dietitian.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Can we drink Saunf water daily?
A. Yes, you can drink Saunf water daily as it is beneficial. It will help reduce your hunger cravings by cutting down on your appetite and preventing you from excess calorie consumption. As a result, it will help you lose weight. Saunf water also acts as a blood purifier and a detoxifier. Furthermore, it helps reduce cholesterol, regulate blood pressure and improve eyesight. However, Saunf water and fennel seeds can also lead to some side effects. Hence, it is essential to consult your doctor or a nutritionist before adding it to your daily routine.
Q. Is Saunf water good for weight loss?
A. Yes, Saunf water is beneficial for healthy weight loss. When combined with healthy eating habits and regular exercise, it promotes weight loss. In addition, it enhances thermogenesis, i.e., metabolism of stored fat. It improves the body’s metabolism, burning more calories during activity or resting state. It suppresses the appetite and enhances digestion. However, you should always consult a nutritionist or dietician before adding it to your diet.
Q. Is Saunf water cold or hot?
A. Yes, Saunf water has a cooling nature. As per Ayurveda, fennel seeds have a cooling effect. They help calm the body from heat and soothe nerves, simultaneously uplifting the mood. In addition, it is carminative and suitable for summer drinks. When you consume Saunf water, it reduces excessive thirst.
Q. Can I drink fennel water at night?
A. Yes, drinking fennel water at night is a healthy practice as it relaxes the muscles, improves digestion, and helps fall asleep. It is helpful for insomniac people who are having difficulty sleeping. In addition, it prevents flatulence and bloating responsible for causing abdominal cramps and pain. However, if you want to use it for weight loss, the best time to drink Saunf water is on an empty stomach in the morning.
Q. Are fennel seeds good for periods?
A. Fennel seeds are beneficial for menstrual regulation. It contains emmenagogue, a compound that helps prevent irregular and painful periods. In addition, it helps relieve abdominal cramps caused due to uterine muscle contraction. Therefore, drinking fennel seeds is very helpful during periods.
Q. Is Saunf good for skin?
A. Saunf is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that profoundly purify and detoxify the skin. In addition, daily consumption of fennel improves the skin’s texture, prevents acne and pimple breakouts, and enhances the skin’s natural glow.
Q. Is fennel water good for hair?
Fennel water is rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, iron, magnesium, selenium and calcium. These vitamins and minerals exhibit potent antioxidant activity, strengthening the hair follicles and promoting hair growth. In addition, it prevents cellular damage to hair which is usually a cause of hair thinning, hair breakage, and stunted growth.
Q. Does Saunf cause gas?
A. No, Saunf does not cause gas. Fennel possesses carminative properties because of the presence of aspartic acid. In addition, it exhibits anti-flatulence properties, which eases abdominal cramps and pain caused due to gas build-up. It is a home remedy used to combat flatulence.
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