Foeniculum vulgare, or fennel, has a pale bulb and long green stalks. It can grow almost anywhere. All parts of the fennel plant, including the bulb, stalk, leaves, and seeds, are edible.
In this article, we detail fennel’s health benefits and nutritional content.
Fennel is low in calories but rich in nutrients linked to many health benefits.
People can also use fennel seeds, leaves, and flowers in different ways.
Research showsTrusted Source that fennel seeds may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antiviral effects. A 2020 systematic review found that digesting these seeds may also stimulate prolactin to help mothers naturally produce breast milk. A person can ingest fennel seeds in dishes or as an extract.
People can also steep fennel seeds, leaves, and flowers to make tea. Fennel tea may aid digestion and other gastrointestinal issues such as heartburn, bloating, loss of appetite, and colic in infants.
The vitamin and mineral content in fennel contributes to building and maintaining bone structure and strength in the following ways:
- Phosphate and calcium: Both of these compounds are important in developing and maintaining strong bones.
- Iron and zinc: These are crucial for the production and maturation of collagen.
- Manganese: This mineral is necessary for bone matrix formation.
- Vitamin K: Studies associate low intakes of vitamin K with a higher risk of bone fracture.
Insufficient potassium intake can increaseTrusted Source a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure.
In addition, there is evidence that potassium, calcium, and magnesium decrease blood pressure naturally. All of these are present in fennel.
Dietary nitrates in fennel and other foods have vasodilatory and vasoprotective properties. Because of this, they can help lower blood pressure and protect the heart. A 2018 study found that blood pressure levels were lower after taking nitrate supplements.
Fennel contains significant amounts of fibre. Fibre decreasesTrusted Source the risk of heart disease as it helps reduce both the total serum cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.
Vitamin B-6 and folate prevent the build-up of a compound called homocysteine by converting it into a different compound, methionine. When excessive amounts of homocysteine build up, it can damage blood vessels and trusted sources and lead to heart problems.
Selenium is a mineral found in fennel and absent in many other fruits and vegetables. It contributes to liver enzyme function and helps detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body.
The selenium found in fennel appears to stimulate the production of killer T-cells and modulates the immune system in other ways. Studies have shown dietary intake of selenium can improve immune response, especially to viral agents.
Fennel is a source of vitamin B-6, which plays a vital role in energy metabolism by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins into glucose and amino acids. The body can easily use these smaller compounds for energy.
Digestion and regularity
The fiber content in fennel helps to prevent constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
Weight management and satiety
Dietary fiber is an important factor in weight management and works as a “bulking agent” in the digestive system.
These compounds increase satiety and reduce appetite, making an individual feel fuller for longer and lowering overall calorie intake.
A 2015 studyTrusted Source found that females who drank fennel tea before a meal reported feeling fuller than females who had received a placebo, further suggesting that fennel may help suppress appetite.
Increasing iron absorption
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies globally and is the leading cause of anemia.
Pairing high-vitamin-C foods, such as fennel, with iron-rich foods can improve the ability of the body to absorb iron.
Estrogen occurs naturally in fennel. It plays a central role in regulating the female reproductive cycle, and it can also determine fertility.
A study on mice found that estrogen plays an important role in controlling factors that contribute to body weight, such as appetite, body fat distribution, and energy expenditure.
Changes in a person’s estrogen levels can lead to weight changes.
A 2020 study found that consumption of fennel seed powder reduced menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women over 8 weeksTrusted Source.
Raw fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essentialTrusted Source to collagen synthesis, the skin’s support system. It works as an antioxidant to help prevent damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke.