Fennel, if you don’t know, is a highly aromatic white bulbous vegetable with long green stalks. It is most commonly associated with Mediterranean cuisine and one of the things that make fennel so great is that it is completely edible. The seeds, stalk, bulb and leaves can all be eaten, so nothing is wasted, and each of them provides a whole host of nutritional benefits. Mediterranean food is often known as the healthiest type of cuisine and their use of healthy, nutritionally dense vegetables is one of the reasons why.
Not a lot of people use fennel in their day to day cooking but a many of us have at one point or another, snacked on their sweet fragrant seeds. Often times the leaves and the stalk are juiced in combination with other ingredients to create a healthy green juice. Whichever way you prefer, there’s no denying that fennel has a lot of health benefits we should all start having more of it.
What Makes Fennel So Healthy?
Great for Digestion
If you’ve ever been to a Pakistani or Indian restaurant, you may have noticed that a lot of them give you a plate or packet of fennel seeds once you are done with your meal. This is because chewing on fennel seeds releases its essential oils which help to facilitate digestion by secreting digestive and gastric juices. As a bonus, it also helps to freshen your breath after having those garlic heavy curries.
High in Fiber
The little seeds are also incredibly high in fiber, which, apart from improving regularity and digestion, also helps to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, which greatly improves heart health. A 100g of fennel seeds provides 345 calories and a whopping 40g of fiber with a bonus of 16g of protein. It’s pretty much impossible to eat that much of the seed though so a couple teaspoons throughout the day is plenty.
Reduces Blood Pressure
Fennel (every part of it), is also very rich in the mineral, Potassium. This is an essential mineral which, among other things, helps to dilate the blood vessels, allowing better blood flow and hence, reduced blood pressure. Potassium also helps to counterbalance the effects of Sodium so if your diet includes a lot of salts, make sure to add some fennel in there as well.
Fennel is also a great source of the free radical fighting antioxidants such as Anethole, Quercetin, Rutin and Vitamin C. These antioxidants also act as an anti-inflammatory, which helps to fight cancer and other diseases within the body. Anethole, in particular, has been found to protect the liver against chemical toxicity.