Fennel (Saunf) is used in a variety of food recipes. From water retention to maintaining normal blood pressure, Fennel (Saunf) is loaded with an array of nutrients that make it a staple in your kitchen. It is a great source of antioxidants and gives a cooling effect on the body. Primarily useful for treating bloating and constipation, these seeds can do wonders for your eye health too.
Fennel is an herb whose bulbs, leaves seeds are all edible. Its scientific name is Foeniculum Vulgare Miller. This plant belongs to the unbellifereae family which also has parsley, carrots and coriander in it. It is a perennial plant that grows yellow flowers and has feathery leaves. The finely segmented leaves hang from shiny green branches. The plant grows to a height of about 4-5 feet. It is used as a spice to flavour curries and breads in both the western and the oriental cuisine. It is a common plant found in kitchen gardens for its flavouring properties.
Fennel has list of nutritional values. It is a good source of vitamin C and dietary fibre. It also contains potassium molybdenum, manganese, copper, phosphorus and folate. Calcium, pantothenic acid, magnesium, iron and niacin too are found in it.
Fennel is a good source of iron and an amino acid called histidine. These help in the manufacture of haemoglobin. The main component of haemoglobin is iron. Histidine on the other hand stimulates the manufacture of haemoglobin and the other constituents of blood.
The components of essential oils present in fennel triggers the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes which in turn paces up the process of digestion. This helps reduce bloating of the belly due to flatulence (excessive gas formation). Inflammation of the stomach and the intestine is reduced by fennel and facilitates maximum absorption of nutrients from the digested food.
Fennel by nature is basic. This helps it to neutralise the acidity of the stomach which can sometimes increase due to improper dietary habits, unregulated lifestyle, body weight etc. Acidity causes heart burn and having fennel after meals can reduce chances of it happening. This property of fennel makes it a common ingredient in anti-acidity medications.
The carminative property of aspartic acid which is present in fennel makes it a good antiflatulent. Excessive gas formation can cause stomach ache. Having fennel extract is a good way to get rid of the extra gas. It is suitable for all ages and can be given to both infants and aged people.
Fennel seeds’ powder acts as a good laxative. It helps cure constipation, abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other diseases related to the intestine. The roughage present in fennel helps regulate the bowel movement. It induces intestinal activity by maintaining peristaltic movements through inducing the secretion of bile and gastric juices.
The fibre present in fennel makes it a good option for keeping cholesterol levels low in the blood. High levels of cholesterol can be harmful for the body as it causes various health problems such as heart attacks, strokes and artherosclerosis. It is extremely essential to maintain suitable levels of cholesterol and fennel is a good solution to this problem.
Fennel is an essential source of potassium which is extremely important for the body. Potassium regulates the water balance as well as the acid-base balance in our body. It also plays an integral role to pass on nerve impulses from one end of the body to the other. It reduces the tension on the blood vessels by dilating them. This results in reduction of blood pressure. Having high pressure can be dangerous for the health as it may cause heart5 attacks and strokes among various other health problems. Potassium also improves brain functions and hence having fennel shall help you to improve your mental functioning and cognitive abilities.
Lactating mothers can consume fennel to ensure a steady flow of milk to the suckling infant. Fennel stimulates the flow of milk during breast feeding. It is essential for babies to consume breast milk in their initial days and fennel helps to ease this for both the mother and the child.
Irregular menses can be a problem faced by many women. The fast life, lack of sleep, bad food habits, stress have all added to such irregularities in body functions. Fennel works well to induce menstruation. Chew on some fennel seeds to have a regular and proper menstrual flow on time.
Fennel has been used for ages as a flavouring herb. It is added to various food preparations such as fish, vegetables, pastries, sweet pickles, candies, liqueurs, medicines etc. This was a food that was common in all the classes of the society, only the purpose for using it were different. While the rich used fennel to flavour food items that fit their expensive taste, the poor used it to suppress hunger and especially on days when they fasted. All the parts of this plant can be consumed and impart a flavour. The stalks can be consumed as a vegetable. Stored fruits and vegetables can be protected from toxic fungal growth by applying fennel oil on them. In apiculture (cultivation of honey) it is used as a plant from where the bees get the nectar. Fennel powder also drives fleas away from kennels and stables.
Generally fennel does not have any serious side effects. But people who are allergic to carrot, celery and mugwort could be allergic to fennel as well. It has been seen that consuming fennel makes skin more skin sensitive and it is advisable to apply sun protective creams to protect your skin from tanning and sunburn. Though solid evidence is not available, two cases of nervous system damage was seen in two breast-feeding babies from mothers who consumed fennel containing herbal tree. Pregnant women should also avoid having fennel
Fennel originated in southern Europe and Asia Minor. It spread further in the temperate regions of Eurasia. Fennel requires a coastal climate to grow well and that is why it has not been spread over a large area and not been naturalised. Fennel requires abundance of sunshine and a well-drained soil to grow and can also be grown in gardens under controlled conditions.