fennel is an excellent ally for our health. In ancient Chinese medicine it lends itself to help against a series of ailments and ailments: from the cold to the lack of breast milk, from stomach ailments, insect bites, infections of the upper respiratory tract.
Let’s discover together all the benefits of this precious vegetable.
- Promotes digestion
Fennel is rich in dietary fiber and is therefore a valid ally of your digestive system.
Digestive problems such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome are quite common in adults. The fibers act like a small brush moving through the digestive system, clearing the colon of toxins and increasing intestinal motility, thus limiting the potential risk of contracting some forms of cancer such as the colon.
It is also quite common for certain cultures to chew fennel seeds after meals to support digestion and eliminate bad breath. Some of the oils found in fennel instead help stimulate the secretion of gastric juices. For those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux, adding fennel to their diet can help balance the ph levels in your body especially in the stomach, and can therefore reduce the sensation of acid regurgitation after meals.
- Lowers bad cholesterol
Studies show that fiber-rich foods, especially soluble fibers such as fennel, help reduce and balance cholesterol levels in the blood. A high fiber diet reduces the risk of heart attacks and heart attacks.
The fact that fennel is rich in both fiber and potassium makes it doubly suitable for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease considering that, in addition to lowering cholesterol levels, it also normalizes blood pressure. Fennel is also rich in other potentially cardioprotective vitamins like folate and vitamin C .
- Counteract free radicals
Fennel is rich in vitamin C, providing almost half of the daily ration recommended in a single bulb. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce the damage caused by free radicals due to premature cellular aging ( 1 ).
It is also necessary for the formation of collagen, one of the most important proteins of the human body that plays a fundamental role in the structure and functionality of organs and tissues such as skin, cartilage and muscle tissue.
A deficiency of vitamin C can lead to a disease called scurvy, which manifests itself with the inability to adequately produce collagen leading to bleeding gums, muscle and joint pain, subungual hemorrhages and difficulty in healing wounds.
An adequate intake of vitamin C is also essential to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and maintain a healthy skin. The recommended daily allowance is 60 mg but more vitamin C is taken with the diet and more it helps to keep the skin healthy. From the inside … for the outside.
- An aid for blood pressure control
Fennel promotes lowering of blood pressure and moderates inflammation due to its high levels of potassium and its low sodium levels.
Although a diet rich in potassium could reduce the systolic pressure by about 5.5 points, compared to a diet with high levels of sodium, do not expect immediate results. It takes about four weeks to get the first results.
- Fennel relieves menopausal symptoms
A study on menopause suggests that the use of fennel, a natural phytoestrogen, can contribute to the improvement of menopausal symptoms. A sample of 90 women aged between 45 and 60 years already post-menopausal for at least one year (no more than five years) with moderate symptoms, was given one capsule a day of fennel extract (or placebo) ) for a period of eight weeks. Subjects undergoing fennel treatment noted significant improvements in symptoms, contrary to those treated with placebo ( 2 ).
The researchers concluded that fennel can potentially alleviate menopausal symptoms in women with low estrogen levels, in women who have suffered from early menopause or in women who have undergone hysterectomy (removal of part or whole uterus) or a oophorectomy (removal of part of one or both ovaries). However, an experiment on a larger group would be necessary to confirm these theses.
- An ally for bone health
Given its high calcium content (approximately 115 mg per bulb – approximately 10% of the recommended daily allowance), fennel helps keep the bones of our body strong and healthy and can help increase calcium levels of those who do not take much because of a diet low in foods that contain them. However, calcium is not the only nutrient that strengthens bones in the bulb. Fennel also contains magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K, each of which plays a fundamental role in maintaining bone health.
- Helps prevent cancer
Fennel’s ability to reduce inflammation has led researchers to study their properties more thoroughly to find out if they could be dedicated to treating other inflammatory diseases like certain forms of cancer.
Fennel contains an oil called anethole which, as has been shown in several clinical studies, acts as a natural remedy for cancer, helping to reduce the growth of cancer cells (for example in breast cancer).
A study carried out on 8000 subjects showed that other anti-inflammatory nutrients present in fennel, specifically selenium, could help reduce the mortality rate and incidence of cancer. However, further research is needed before understanding how and in what quantities this resource should be used.
- Improve your eyesight
Macular degeneration is the primary cause of age-related vision loss. Although the exact cause is unknown, antioxidants that help reduce inflammation such as flavonoids, vitamin C and zinc can help improve vision or slow the progression of the disease. Fennel contains many of these “sight-saving” nutrients therefore it is an excellent ally in the prevention and reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation ( 3 ).
- Quench hunger
The human organism does not have the enzymes necessary for digestion and fiber absorption, therefore they cannot be absorbed as calories. Studies show that a high-fiber diet can effectively support weight loss. A 2001 study showed that subjects who added 14 grams of fiber per day to their diet, without any other dietary variation, took approximately 10% fewer calories per day. Increasing fiber consumption by adding fennel and other fiber rich foods to your diet could be an easy way to feel more satisfied without effort and experience healthy weight loss ( 4 ).
- Effective in case of colic
Although infantile colic is a relatively benign medical condition it can have a significant impact on new parents. Many of them will probably try anything to alleviate their child’s pain.
Today’s medicines used to treat colic could have serious side effects and not be so effective. Researchers have discovered that fennel seed oil reduces pain and increases motility in the small intestine making it an excellent natural remedy for colic.
In a 2003 study, researchers compared fennel seed oil with a placebo on a sample of 125 newborns. The group treated with fennel seed oil was found to develop 65% less colic than the control group, without side effects ( 5 ).Although these researches could be promising, there is still no fixed risk-free dose for newborns at the present time. The safest way to use fennel oil to treat infantile colic is to drink fennel teas for the mother during breastfeeding (6).
Nutritional value of fennel
A medium-sized fennel bulb contains:
- 73 calories
- 3 grams of protein
- 17 grams of carbohydrates
- 7 grams of fiber (28% recommended daily dose)
- 969 mg of potassium (27% recommended daily dose)
- 28 mg vitamin C (50% recommended daily dose)
Fennel also provides a number of other important vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin K and folate. It is also an excellent source of minerals such as iron, calcium, copper, zinc and selenium.
It also contains only a small trace of fat and does not contain cholesterol.
Naturopath’s advice for a fennel supplement
Among the supplements based on fennel, Enzyflat stands out whose formula based on the union between passionflower and fennel, is able to favor gastrointestinal regularity and consequently eliminate excess gas and flatulence.
How to choose and store fennel
Fennel is a winter vegetable with a crunchy consistency similar to celery with an interesting flavor reminiscent of licorice and anise. It is recognized by its white bulb and its long and green stems. The entire bulb of the fennel including the seeds, the stem and the leaves are edible.
This vegetable native to the Mediterranean regions such as Greece and Italy is now growing in many different regions such as America, France, India and Russia. It is commonly harvested during the autumn and traditionally appears in autumn or winter recipes.
When choosing a fennel bulb look for a firm one and for the most part white on the bottom. Avoid brownish bulbs on the bottom or with spots. The stems should be wrapped around each other and not in bloom.
Fennel can last in the fridge for about 4 or 5 days during which it tends to progressively lose flavor. In any case, it should be consumed quickly.
Contraindications and warnings:
Although for many people fennel is a healthy plant choice, those who suffer from certain medical conditions may have to limit or avoid taking it.Due to the high potassium content, fennel intake is not recommended for those suffering from kidney disease and those taking beta blockers (generally prescribed for blood pressure control).For those who are allergic to certain spices, the use of fennel seeds is not recommended.