TYLER TOLMAN BLOG
What is Fennel? | Benefits, Nutrition and Uses
What is Fennel? | Benefits, Nutrition and Uses
My initial plan with talking about fennel was to boast its amazing benefits for heart health, along with its uses. I mean, how can fennel not be a big contender for supporting the heart when the Doctrine of Signatures presents us with the fennel’s hollow stems, resembling arteries, and the fennel bulb shaping out the left and right ventricles? Right?
So absolutely, let’s talk about the heart benefits of fennel, but I also want to talk about some of its other powerful benefits.
All About Fennel
One of the most popular characteristics you’ll hear about fennel is its unique smell and taste, which is similar to that of anise – a licorice flavour. While the sound of that may put some people off, I assure you fennel is actually light, slightly sweet and mild, making it great for salads.
While fennel is one of those vegetables where the entire thing can be consumed, the bulb and seeds are most commonly used.
The Good Stuff
Fennel is packed full of nutrients including potassium, magnesium and calcium which are all important for healthy bones (those stems look a lot like bones also!). Additionally, fennel contains manganese, a mineral that is a key element for enzyme activation, metabolism and regulating blood sugars, just to name a few.
But the big hitter for fennel is its high Vitamin C content, providing nearly half the recommended daily amount with about 28 milligrams per bulb. As you know, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, helping to maintain a healthy immune system, repair tissue and form collagen (wound healing).
On their own, fennel seeds are rich in flavonoid antioxidants and contain a concentrated source of micronutrients. For this reason, they are used to make fennel essential oil, which also makes them more potent.
What Fennel Does for You
Here are my top 5 [of many] benefits, other than the nutritional boost already mentioned, that fennel gifts us:
1. Healthy Heart
For all the reasons I have mentioned previously, fibre, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin C, etc – all essential for good heart health – makes fennel a heavy hitter with helping to reduce risk factors that can lead to heart disease.
The fibre assists with lowering chloesterol.
Fennel also contains folate, which can help to reduce the risk of damage to blood vessels and prevent cardiac issues.
Potassium helps to reduce high blood pressure.
2. Gut Health
When you eat fennel, it releases gastric enzymes into the body that work to aid in the digestive process, by relaxing the colon. Then add in the fibre it contains and it’s a little scrub brush to assist with eliminating toxins.
Fennel contains anethole, estragole and fenchone, all of which act as powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Eating fennel seeds can help with digestive problems like IBS, bloating, constipation and indigestion.
3. Women’s Health
When eaten with sunflower seeds, fennel seed extract has show to reduce menstrual cramps and pain. It’s believed this is due to fennel relaxing the uterus, which can help with dysmenorrhoea (frequent and severe cramping).
Fennel, along with Fenugreek, has been found to have galactogenic properties and contain phytoestrogens which can assist with the production and secretion of milk for lactating mothers.
Women experiencing menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and vaginal itching, found these symptoms reduced when taking fennel.
4. Respiratory Support
With fennel containing cineole (eucalyptus) and anethole (aromatic compound), which are natural expectorants, it assists with respiratory disorders such as congestion, bronchitis, and coughs. The seeds help to break up phlegm and loosen toxins that can build up in the throat and nasal passages to assist with eliminating them from the body.
5. Improves Skin Health
It all comes down the Vitamin C power this vegetable contains, providing a strong antioxidant, when it comes to skin health. And with the help of producing collagen, fennel reduces free radical damage, protecting the skin’s appearance and assisting in premature aging.
Fennel seeds are high in calcium, selenium and zinc, all of which assist with balancing hormones and improving circulation. The seeds have also been found to contain compounds that help reduce the frequency and severity of acne breakouts.
So eat it raw for an intense flavour, or saute it to bring out its beautiful sweetness. Perhaps you prefer to cosy up to a herbal tea…simply boil up its leaves, flowers and seeds. And if fennel isn’t readily available or not in season, get your hands on some fennel oil to use topically, internally or diffuse it to reap its many health benefits all year ’round.
With the plethora of health benefits, and the multiple ways in which to use this health boosting vegetable, it really is a no brainer.
Thanks for reading!