Health Benefits Of Fennel Seeds (Saunf); From Weight Loss To Heart-Health & Digestion
Fennel seeds (saunf) have always been a part of our tradition and are most commonly used as a mouth freshener. But did you know that there are also many health benefits linked with its consumption? We give you the lowdown.
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Fennel seeds are known for their distinct licorice flavor, which makes the dishes aromatic when you add them. However, they are not only used for their taste and aroma. Fennel comes from the Foeniculum vulgare (the scientific name for fennel plant) and is used for a variety of health reasons in our day to day lives. Most people would know that fennel seeds (saunf) are known to aid digestion and help in gastric issues like gas and bloating. In fact, in India, most people would finish their meal with a little bit of fennel, or saunf, as traditionally this was meant to keep the digestive issues related to a heavy meal away. But there are several more benefits of fennel seeds that sometimes go unnoticed. The many benefits of fennel seeds are due to the fact that these are packed with nutrients that contain anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Since the fennel plant itself is used for several medicinal uses, you can expect the fennel seeds to play a vital role in your overall health and immunity as well.
Nutritional Profile Of Fennel Seeds
Table of Contents
Here Are The Most Important Health Benefits Of Fennel Seeds:
1. Packed With Essential Nutrients
You might have been using fennel seeds every day in your dishes as part of seasoning or garnishing. However, you will be surprised to know that just 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds (approximately 6 grams) contains 2 grams of dietary fiber. They contain only 20 calories but give you 2 to 3% each of your recommended daily levels (RDA) of Vitamin C and potassium, 6 to 7% each of your recommended daily levels of calcium, iron and magnesium and 19% of your recommended daily dose of manganese. That’s a whole lot of nutrient-packed into 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds!
2. Reduces Your Appetite
If you are looking to lose weight, and struggling with an increased appetite thanks to the festival season, consuming fennel seeds daily is a great idea. This is because fennel seeds reduce your appetite and encourage you to consume lesser calories than you normally would. Weight loss is ultimately about calories consumed vs calories used, and this is where regulation and moderation in eating helps. In a study to prove this point, 9 healthy women were asked to drink 250 ml of fennel tea (made by boiling 2 grams of fennel seeds in water) before lunch every day. After a few days, they agreed that they ate lesser than their normal quantity because they didn’t feel hungry at all. More research is being conducted to draw the link between fennel seeds and decreased appetite.
3. Helps In Keeping Your Heart Healthy
Foods that are rich in dietary fiber, magnesium, and potassium are highly recommended for the overall health of your heart. This is because these nutrients keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Unregulated blood pressure and cholesterol are amongst the two top factors that lead to serious ailments such as cardiac arrests and strokes.
Though studies haven’t particularly been conducted with respect to fennel seeds, they do prove that foods rich in fiber, potassium, calcium, and magnesium do help in reducing your risk to heart ailments and keeping your heart healthy. Since fennel seeds contain all these components, it would be safe to assume this fact for fennel seeds as well.
4. Increases Milk Secretion In Breastfeeding Women
Fennel seeds contain an important component known as anethole, which is known for its galactogenic properties. Anethole and its two important substances – dianethole and photoanethole, play a vital role in improving the milk secretion when a woman is breastfeeding. The quality of milk produced is also excellent, which leads to healthy weight gain in infants and frequent wetting of diapers.
Two groups of breastfeeding women participated in a study to prove the effectiveness of fennel seeds. The first group of women was asked to drink tea that contained 7.5 grams of fennel seed powder and 3 grams of black tea. The second group was asked to drink only 3 grams of black tea. Both the groups had to drink this thrice a day for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, the mothers who drank fennel and black tea reported that their babies were growing healthily, passing motions and urine regularly and were quite active.
In India, most lactating mothers are given a ‘laddoo’ to eat every day – this gondh ka laddoo is given with the aim to help the new mother regain all her strength and energy post-child-birth and also to help her body meet the demands of milk production. Fennel seeds are an important ingredient in several traditional recipes for making the gondh ka ladoo.
5. Great Source Of Plant Compounds
One of the main reasons behind the health benefits of fennel seeds is the presence of highly effective, antioxidant-rich plant compounds in it. Fennel seeds contain close to 28 plant compounds. Some of these compounds are anethole, limonene, methyl chavicol, anisic aldehyde, pinene, myrcene, cineole, and fenchone. Studies have proved that these compounds contain anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral properties. These prevent cell damage to your body and reduce your risk to many serious ailments.
6. May Reduce Risk Of Certain Cancers
The plant compound of anethole plays a vital role in reducing your risk to certain cancers, as it has very high potential to fight against the cancer cells. Test-tube studies proved that these plant compounds had the potential to control the growth and penetration of cancer cells. They were also responsible for encouraging apoptosis, a condition that causes the death of breast cancer cells.
Studies have also been conducted on animals to prove that the plant compounds in fennel seeds help to prevent the growth of breast and liver cancer cells. Though no study has been conducted on humans so far, the facts are encouraging so far.
7. Helps In Improving Overall Immunity
The anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties of fennel seeds help to improve your overall immunity by keeping you stay safe from bacterial infections, fever, cold and other common ailments. When you consume fennel seeds regularly, you will notice that you don’t fall sick often. Kaempferol and quercetin are two powerful antioxidants found in fennel seeds that can provide you quick recovery from wounds and injuries, and reduce further inflammation.
8. Provides Relief Against Gastric Issues
When you experience stomach pain, bloating, indigestion, abdomen gas or other digestion-related issues, you can chew a few fennel seeds to get immediate relief. The juice of the fennel seeds act on your abdomen and soothes the colon to give you relief. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, fennel seeds are very effective in treating everyday digestive disorders.
9. Relief Against Colic In Infants
Fennel is so effective in treating colic that it can be given for infants aged between 2 and 12 weeks. When breastfed infants keep crying because of colic issues, you can resort to the natural remedy of fennel oil in the right dosage, instead of giving your baby medicines that may come with side effects.
Do make sure you check with your trusted health practitioner for any issue that persists and seems chronic. Especially, in the case of infants, breastfeeding mothers and the elderly, consulting an experienced person goes a long way and that what we always recommend.
Fennel Seeds For Weight Loss
Fennel seeds are a common ingredient in Indian households. But did you know fennel seeds can even aid in weight loss? Read on to find out why fennel seeds are ideal for weight loss:
- Fennel is rich in fiber, hence, consuming fennel makes you feel full for a longer period of time. Since you don’t get food cravings, you eat less which leads to a decline in weight.
- Consumption of saunf may lead to a reduction in the stored fat as it ensures proper absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body.
- Saunf has the ability to kick start your metabolism which means losing weight in a healthy manner with a healthy metabolism.
- Fennel is good for consuming in tea as it has diuretic properties which aid in removal of toxins from the body, which further leads to weight loss.
- Fennel is rich in antioxidants such as zinc, manganese, phosphorus, etc which are responsible for the protection of the body from free radicals. These free radicals cause oxidative stress, which is a reason for diabetes and obesity.
- Fennel seeds have resilient oil, which aids in digestion by producing gastric enzymes.
How To include Fennel In Your Diet Regularly?
4 Ways To Use Fennel Seeds For Health Benefits Including Fennel Tea:
Some of you may not like the taste of fennel seeds when you chew them raw. Don’t worry; there are other ways in which you can include these seeds in your daily diet. To enjoy the wholesome benefits of fennel seeds, you can try these methods:
- Fennel-flavored water: Make a mixture of 1 cup of fennel seeds, 8 glasses of water and a little bit of honey. Leave the mixture in a bowl overnight so that the flavors of the fennel seeds are well-absorbed in water. Strain the mixture the next day and keep drinking the fennel-flavored water throughout the day.
- Fennel tea: While brewing tea (green tea or black tea), you can add a few fennel seeds as well in the water to enjoy a cup of hot fennel tea.
- For tempering (tadka): Use fennel seeds regularly for tempering your dishes, along with cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves, etc.
- As a seasoning for salads: Roast a few fennel seeds and blend them well to make a powder. Use this powder as a topping over your curries, salads and other dishes for that extra dash of health and taste.
Fennel seeds are a common kitchen ingredient that is available easily everywhere. If you have been using these seeds only for flavoring your dishes, it is now time to change the way you think. When you know that there are so many health benefits of fennel seeds to ignore, isn’t only natural that you start getting innovative in your kitchen to include these as a part of your daily diet?