Fennel is a winter vegetable similar to cellulose with an interesting licorice flavor. Although the taste may take some time to get used to at first, fennel provides a huge amount of health benefits. Fennel is recognized for its white bulb and its long green stems. It is related to other stalk vegetables such as celery and parsnips. All the fennel bulb, including the seeds, the stem and the leaves, are edible. This root vegetable originated in the Mediterranean countries of Greece and Italy, but is now grown in many different countries such as the USA, France, India and Russia. It is commonly harvested in the fall and usually appears traditionally in fall or winter recipes.
It has been used in many crops for its medicinal properties. In ancient Chinese medicine, it is used to help with a variety of ailments, from congestion to helping increase the flow of breast milk. It can also help with stomach upset, insect bites or to relieve a sore throat.
Nutritional Information About Fennel:
- An average size fennel bulb contains 73 calories, 3 grams of protein and 17 grams of carbohydrates. It contains only a trace of fat and does not contain cholesterol.
- Fennel is exceptionally high in fiber, with each bulb that provides 7 grams of dietary fiber or 28% of daily needs. Most people lack fiber intake, consuming only an average of 7 grams per day, therefore, adding fennel to their diet could help double their consumption.
- A bulb also provides 969 mg of potassium or 27% of the recommended daily dose. Potassium is essential to help reduce blood pressure and also to maintain fluid balance.
- Fennel also has a high vitamin C content and provides 28 mg per bulb or almost half of the recommended daily dose for this critical vitamin. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help delay aging, as well as maintain a healthy immune system.
- Fennel provides additional important vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin K and folate. It is also a good source of other minerals such as iron, calcium, copper, zinc and selenium.
10 Unique Health Benefits of Fennel:
1. Improves Bone Health
- Due to the calcium content, fennel can help maintain bone strength and health. Fennel contains about 115 mg of calcium or about 10% of the RDA, which can help increase calcium in your diet, especially for those who do not consume enough from other sources.
- But, calcium is not the only nutrient that strengthens the bones found in the bulb, fennel also contains magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K, all of which play a role in maintaining bone strength.
2. Improves Skin Health:
- Fennel has a high vitamin C content and provides almost half of the recommended daily dose in a single bulb. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the damage of free radicals that can lead to premature aging.
- Vitamin C is also necessary for the formation of collagen and a powerful tool to protect the appearance of the skin, which makes it a good option to naturally retard aging.
- A vitamin C deficiency is called scurvy, which manifests itself in the inability to form collagen properly, leading to bleeding gums and bleeding under the skin.
- Due to these functions, adequate vitamin C intake is critical to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and keep skin healthy. The RDA is 60 mg / day, but more vitamin C from whole food sources will help keep skin healthy from the inside out.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure:
- Fennel can help reduce blood pressure and inflammation due to its high potassium content and low sodium content. Potassium works against sodium, helping to fight high blood pressure in the body.
- A diet high in potassium can reduce systolic blood pressure by 5.5 points compared to a diet high in sodium.
- But, don’t expect your blood pressure to drop overnight, it takes about four weeks to consume a diet high in potassium to see a drop in blood pressure.
4. Help Digestion:
- Fennel is included in the GAPS Diet, as well as in my Healing Food Shopping List, due to its ability to facilitate digestion. Because fennel contains 7 grams of dietary fiber, it can help maintain a healthy digestive system.
- The muscles in the digestive system need dietary fiber to provide volume to the gastrointestinal muscles to push and increase motility or movement.
- Because digestive problems such as constipation and IBS are so common in adults, fennel makes a great addition to any diet, which is one of the reasons I include it in my list of recommended foods for a diet of healing.
- In addition, the fiber acts as a small brush as it moves through the digestive system, cleaning the colon of toxins that could potentially cause colon cancer. Fennel itself can act as a laxative, helping to eliminate toxins.
- It is also common in certain crops to chew fennel seeds after meals to aid digestion and eliminate bad breath. Some of the oils found in fennel help stimulate the secretion of digestive juices.
- Fennel can also be beneficial for people with acid reflux. Adding fennel to your diet can help balance the pH level inside your body, especially inside your stomach, and can reduce reflux after meals.
5. Increase Satiety:
- Fiber does not contain calories, but provides volume, increasing satiety. Humans do not have the necessary enzymes to break down the fiber, therefore it cannot be absorbed in the form of calories. Fennel provides 7g of fiber without calories.
- Studies show that high fiber diets can help people lose weight effectively. A 2001 study found that participants who added 14 grams per day of fiber to their diets, without changing anything else, ate approximately 10% fewer calories per day and lost about 4 pounds in a 4 month period.
- Increasing fiber intake, adding fennel and other fiber-rich foods to the diet can be a simple way to feel more satisfied effortlessly and to experience weight loss.
6. Relieve Colic:
- Childhood colic, although a relatively benign medical condition, can have a significant impact on new parents. Most parents of a baby with colic would probably try almost anything to calm their crying child.
- The current medication used for colic, called dicyclomine hydrochloride, may have some serious side effects and may not be consistently effective. But, researchers have found that fennel seed oil has been shown to reduce pain and increase motility in the small intestine, so it can be an excellent natural remedy for colic.
- In a 2003 study, researchers compared fennel seed oil with a placebo in 125 babies. It was reported that the group treated with fennel seed oil had 65% less colic, measured by episodes of crying, than those in the control group, with no side effects.
- Although this research can be promising and many desperate parents may want to run away and get some fennel oil, there is no safe dose established for babies at this time. The safest way to use it to treat childhood colic is for a nursing mother to drink fennel tea.
7. Help Prevent Cancer:
- Fennel has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to help treat inflammatory conditions such as insect bites or sore throats. The ability of fennel to decrease inflammation led researchers to investigate whether fennel’s properties could be applied to other inflammatory diseases such as various forms of cancer.
- Fennel contains an oil called anethole that has been shown in some clinical studies that acts as a natural remedy for cancer, helping to reduce the growth of breast cancer cells. It is believed that anethole reduces inflammation that can lead to cancer development, although more research is needed to determine how exactly it can be used.
- Other anti-inflammatory nutrients are also found in this, specifically selenium, a trace element that can help lower cancer death rates. A large study of more than 8,000 participants found that selenium did reduce mortality and reduce the future incidence of cancer.
8. Decreases the Risk of Heart Disease:
- It has been shown that fiber-rich foods, especially soluble fiber, as found in fennel, help reduce cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. A diet high in fiber can help reduce the overall risk of heart attacks and stroke by helping to reduce blood cholesterol to a normal level.
- The high fiber and potassium content makes fennel a double blow in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing both cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Fennel also has a high content of other potentially cardioprotective vitamins such as folate and vitamin C.
9. Support the Health of Sight:
- Macular degeneration is the main cause of age-related vision loss. Although the exact cause is unknown, antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, such as certain flavonoids, vitamin C and zinc, can help improve vision or delay disease progression.
- Fennel contains many of these nutrients that save vision. Due to its high content of flavonoids, vitamin C and minerals, it can help reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, and can help prevent macular degeneration.
10. It Can Relieve the Symptoms of Menopause:
- A study in Menopause suggests that the use of fennel, a phytoestrogen, can help improve menopause symptoms.
- The researchers analyzed 90 women, 45 to 60 years of age, who had been postmenopausal for at least one year (no more than five years) and had at least moderate menopausal symptoms. Participants received fennel capsules or placebo daily for eight weeks.
- Fennel recipients observed significant improvements in symptoms, while placebo recipients did not. The researchers conclude that this can help relieve menopausal symptoms in women with low estrogen levels, as well as in those who have experienced early menopause or have had a hysterectomy or ovariotomy. However, a larger trial is needed to confirm these findings.
Possible Side Effects of Fennel:
- Although fennel is a great choice of healthy vegetables for most people, people with certain medical conditions may have to limit or avoid this consumption. Some people may be allergic to certain spices, so they should avoid eating fennel seeds.
- Due to the high potassium content, people with kidney disease should limit the amount of this fennel they eat. People who take beta blockers, which are usually prescribed to help control blood pressure, may also have elevated potassium levels and may need to avoid this.
How to Choose and Prepare Fennel?
- Fennel has a crunchy texture and a taste similar to licorice or anise. It is a great addition to any winter dish to provide a different flavor.
- When choosing a fennel bulb, look for a bulb that is firm and mostly white at the bottom. Avoid bulbs that are brown or stained at the bottom. The stems should be grouped and not bloom.
- The fennel bulb can remain in the refrigerator for four or five days. It tends to lose flavor over time, so it should be consumed in a few days.
- You can eat all the parts of the fennel bulb, including the seeds, the leaves and the bulb itself. The seeds are commonly dried and used as spices.
- To prepare the fennel bulb, first cut the stems of the bulb where they sprout. Next, cut the bulb vertically into thin slices, depending on the recipe you choose.
Recipes to Prepare Fennel:
Want to try the fennel for dinner tonight? Then say hello to fennel with this delicious soup recipe. With the slight sweetness of apples and the amazing nutrition of fennel, your whole family will return for a few seconds!
1. Apple and Fennel Soup
Total time: 30 minutes
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 chopped onion
- 2 fennel bulbs (medium to large), without stems and diced
- 2 large apples, peeled, heartless and diced
- 1 quarter chicken stock
- 2-3 sprigs of thyme
- Heat coconut oil in a large pot.
- Sauté the onion over low or medium heat for 10-15 minutes until it is soft and almost golden.
- Add the fennel and apples and cook for 5-10 minutes until they begin to soften or brown.
- Add chicken broth and thyme.
- Puree in a Vitamix soup until smooth and creamy.