As you all know, in my Spice Racks series, I am talking about some of the magical spices that we must include in our diet because of their range of health benefits. I have already covered Cinnamon, so hop on over to check that out if you haven’t already. Today, let’s talk about one of my other favourites, fennel. More commonly known as saunf in India, it is most popular as a mouth freshener (yes, I know all of you who love to grab handfuls of saunf after a meal in a local restaurant to devour later, I am one of those too 😛 High five!) But it has a whole range of other benefits that I researched and studied for this post.
So let’s check out some of the medical benefits of fennel.
- Indigestion, constipation and stomachache
In the most traditional use, fennel helps in the common problems of the stomach. It is always advised in Ayurveda to have a small spoonful of fennel seeds post meals to aid digestion. This use of fennel has been observed across several countries of the world. In case of stomach problems, having a decoction prepared with fennel seeds or having the seeds on their own is considered helpful.
- Water retention and hypertension
Fennel seeds have been found to have diuretic properties. Incorporating fennel in your routine can help alleviate water retention as fennel promotes the production of urine without the loss of necessary electrolytes from the body. In this way, fennel helps in regulating the problem of high blood pressure.
- Protection against cancer and cancer-causing mutations
In simplest of terms, the chemical compounds found in fennel were shown to protect against mutations in the DNA that can cause cancer. This effect was successfully demonstrated in animals. It is also found to have antioxidant action. Hence, we can easily incorporate fennel in our diet to have these benefits.
- Helpful in cold and cough
Fennel is a well known expectorant. This means that it helps to dispel excessive mucus secretions that are released during cold and cough. Hence, it is quite helpful in recovering from your seasonal bout.
- May help lower blood sugar
In animals, fennel was found to help in lowering blood glucose levels. Hence including fennel in the diet can be beneficial for diabetics.
- Menstrual health
Fennel contains compounds that have estrogenic activity (it works somewhat like the estrogen that women naturally produce in their bodies) and hence may help promote menstrual flow in women. Additionally, it may help in hirusutism in women. In one study, fennel was also found to somewhat reduce the severity of pre-menstrual syndrome.
How to get your daily dose:
- As mouth freshener: Yes, nothing new here. Just pop a spoonful post every meal. Instead of chewing gum, you can keep a bottle of fennel seed in your bag and use it instead. It leaves you with great breath and also helps digestion. Best is to incorporate unsweetened type so that you don’t end up adding more sugar into your body.
- In your tea: While making tea, you can add a generous teaspoonful of fennel seeds to achieve great flavour and also get the benefits of saunf.
- To your salads: Believe it or not, you can use fennel seeds as a spice and flavouring agent in your salads. It adds a unique flavour punch too! I especially love it in chickpea salads.
- To your daily vegetable curries and sabzi: You can easily add fennel seeds to a lot of your regular fare such as okra and brinjal for an extremely unique taste experience.
Fennel and Beauty
Fennel has been shown to have antiaging effects. In an experiment, it was found to help retain skin moisture when used on the skin in the form of a cream. While I don’t really know of a beauty product that has utilized fennel as an ingredient, you can certainly include fennel powder in your beauty routine in the following ways:
- You can use fennel powder as an exfoliant, mixed with honey.
- You can also use fennel decoction as a facial toner to help improve skin elasticity.
- Use of fennel decoction on the face is especially useful for people with oily skin and acne because it also has astringent and antiseptic properties.
Keep including this lovely aromatic to your food. You are doing more benefit to your body than you think.