If we talk about plants with great benefits for human health, we cannot fail to mention the Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). Native to Europe, this herb it is characterized by being very aromatic and by its frequent use in gastronomy.
With dark green leaves, fennel has been used as a medicinal element since ancient times. While this herb looks a lot like celery, it tastes more like anise.
Fennel is an ingredient used in the most traditional cuisine, that of our grandmothers, village cuisine, vegetable stews of a lifetime. These products were healthy, rich and also very inexpensive.
Fennel is a very common herbaceous plant in Mediterranean homes, it grows wild and is quite common to find it in road ditches, in garden hedges and in waterways. In winter, it stays dormant, root-shaped, to sprout in spring with needle-shaped leaves, its stems reaching a good height. It blooms in summer, with flowers in the shape of a parasol. With the summer heat, it begins to dehydrate from the outside and its seeds dry out.
Nutritional composition of fennel.
- Vitamins of group B (B3, B6 and B9 or folic acid).
- Provitamin A.
- Vitamin C.
Benefits and properties of fennel.
This plant offers various properties among which we can highlight digestive, antioxidant, expectorant, cholesterol, cough suppressant and many others. These characteristics have enabled it to become a highly recommended medicinal plant in different health scenarios.
We can start talking about the health benefits of fennel, going over one of its main effects, the decreased appetite. This property was widely used in ancient times when warriors used it to combat the lack of food on the battlefield. However, today it can become a valuable ally when it comes to wanting to lose weight, in conjunction with a healthy diet and frequent physical activity.
It contains alanine, an amino acid that can increase the immune system’s defenses, so that it can protect us from certain diseases. Contains arginine, necessary for muscle growth and tissue repair. It also contains histidine, a potent vasodilator and gastric juice stimulator.
Thanks to its phytoestrogen contribution, fennel is a ideal companion for women suffering from an irregular menstrual cycle because it also reduces the discomfort caused by this hormonal process.
However, fennel also has another series of benefits for our body, as there are also records of specific benefits for vision and as natural relief of stomach pain. This, without forgetting that it serves as an important element in lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease.
With the intake of fennel, you can strengthen the processes of eliminating retained fluids in the body, a very positive property in case of obesity or rheumatic diseases, at the same time that it will help us to maintain fresher breath and to avoid gingivitis and other diseases.
For visible signs of aging, fennel and its antioxidant capacities They can delay the appearance of these wrinkles due to the body’s natural oxidation and the constant attack of free radicals, thanks to its high content of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, vitamins C and B3 and phytochemicals .
For those affected by the flu, fennel can be used as natural expectorant thanks to a compound called “alpha-pinene”, which in turn relieves symptoms of asthma and bronchitis.
Now, to consume this herb, you have several options, a very popular one is in the form of tea, which can be made with a tablespoon of fennel seeds crushed in a cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes; You can also add it to your dishes, especially salads and meat sauces.
Now that you know about fennel and its benefits, start introducing it into your diet so that you can enjoy these natural benefits of this plant for your body and that of your family.
Fennel is also highly valued for containing anethole, a chemical compound which gives it its incomparable anise flavor, which gives it that characteristic flavor and which, with its cleansing and digestive properties, makes it used as a medicinal plant, in the form of infusion, alone or combined with other spices and aromatic herbs.
Gastronomic uses of fennel.
In the kitchen, the bulb is used as a fresh vegetable. Cut into pieces like onion for salad, roasted or cooked with other vegetables and seasoned, into tortillas, or as an ingredient in stews. Its flavor is sweet and anise, and its caloric value is very low, around 20 kcal. per 100 gr, an advantage which is added to its properties of balancing the digestive system and the immune system.
Tender stems of fennel are widely used in the most traditional Mediterranean cuisine to dress legume stews, because cooked with the other ingredients, they give it sweetness and flavor, and also promote the digestion of the legume, which can sometimes be indigestible. They can also be eaten cooked and seasoned or as an omelet, but for this type of preparation, they must be very, very tender.
The hard stems of the plant are also used to make herbal teas, its use as a digestive is very common, usually mixed with other aromatics that complement its digestive and cleansing properties. Another little-known use of these hard stems is their role in the preparation of pickles, for the preparation of typical Almagro eggplants and for flavoring marinated olives.
Fennel seed is very popular in Spain and throughout the Mediterranean basin for flavoring desserts and breads, although it is easily confused with green anise, which is very similar. It is very common to use it to flavor desserts in traditional Easter cuisine, it is also used in the distillation of a drink very common at our tables, anise, which is distilled from green anise, star anise or fennel and is consumed in Spanish gastronomy. It is also used as an ingredient in other spirits.
Side effects of fennel.
Its excessive consumption can be harmful to health. To avoid this, consume the recommended daily dose to avoid these side effects.
If we consume too much of it, we can suffer from hallucinations, muscle spasms, and changes in the nervous system. You should not apply directly to the skin. Its consumption should be avoided during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Remember to consult your doctor before starting any treatment with herbal remedies.