Fennel grows into a tall shrub with soft, feathery leaves, and yellow umbel flower heads. The plant produces two main crops, the seeds, which are used as a spice, and the bulb, which is eaten like a vegetable.
Fennel originates from the coastline of the Mediterranean, but can now be found growing in most every part of the world.
The entire plant is highly aromatic, which is probably a large reason this has been such a popular ingredient in cooking for thousands of years.
Fennel seed is used as a spice, and is added to many popular spice blends.
Fennel seed is rich in calcium, dietary fibre, iron, magnesium, and manganese. Plus it contains copper, phosphorus, and potassium.
Have bad breath?
Don’t worry, chew on some fennel.
This is one of the oldest uses and most common uses of fennel. It has been used to freshen breath, and can be added to a homemade toothpaste recipe.
Fennel is also great for breastfeeding mothers. The plant increases lactation, increasing the quantity and quality of the milk. On that same note, the oil in fennel (specifically fennel seed) significantly reduced infantile colic. The safest way to get babies to ingest safe levels of this oil is by the mother eating fennel, which will result in safe levels of this important oil in the breast milk.
Fennel seed, leaf, and bulb are all great sources of dietary fibre. This is great news because fibre is excellent for your digestive tract and helps expel excess weight.
While most people use the seeds and bulb of fennel, you don’t want to waste its leaves. In many parts of the world, fennel leaves are used as a salad green. They have a similar taste to dill (another good whole food). Fennel leaf is also used to brew a tea that is soothing for your stomach.
The easiest way to add a substantial amount of fennel to your diet is through the bulb. This is the part of the plant at the base of the stalks, just above the roots. You can chop, cook, and serve the bulb just like any other veggie. It works well by itself or mixed in with your other garden vegetables. It’s a delicious and good for you.
Fennel bulb is a good source of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, niacin, and phosphorus. It is a great source of dietary fibre, folate, manganese, potassium, and vitamin C.
The potassium in fennel is great for regulating blood flow and blood pressure. While adding potassium to your diet can be highly beneficial for lowering heart rate, it does take time to start working. In fact, it can take up to four weeks of regularly getting adequate potassium in your diet to see a change in blood pressure. Still, it is good to know this effect and it’s better to add good whole foods like fennel to your diet while you’re still healthy.
Fennel has many health benefits that come from the flavonoids found in the plant. The flavonoids have an anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive (reduces pain), and an immunomodulatory effect (modifies immune functions) in the body.
We can all do with a less inflammation, and an improved immune system. Humans today experience more stress than ever before, and it takes a toll on the body. These two functions help fight stress, and can improve the overall health of our major organs. It can help prevent macular degeneration, heart disease, cancer, and many other serious diseases.
The extract from fennel has been found to have significant neurological benefits. First of all, it can help strengthen memory, and reduce memory loss in patients with dementia. Fennel could also be beneficial for combating depression. A study conducted on rats found that fennel extract had antidepressant activity. Fennel is a great food for brain health!
Fennel could also help protect you from liver damage. Fennel oil was found to protect rats from hepatotoxicity. While studies have only been conducted on rats, this is a promising benefit for fennel eaters.
There are so many great parts of the fennel plant, and so many great ways you can add it to your diet. Share your favourite way to use fennel in the comments below.