The Health Benefits of Fennel
Fennel is one of those vegetables that you either love or hate. With a slightly sweet flavor reminiscent of anise or black licorice, it is typically not up for any popularity contests. But, this often overlooked vegetable is actually full of health benefits that keep your body functioning healthily and happily.
Fennel belongs to the same family as carrots, parsley, cilantro, and dill. While it has been popular in Italian cooking for some time now, fennel is just beginning to see a spike in popularity throughout other parts of the world. This spike is likely due to the many health benefits that fennel can offer, and it is not just the actual vegetable that is being eaten for the health benefits. You can eat just about every part of the fennel plant including the seeds, leaves, and roots.
For many years, fennel and its various parts have been used for medicinal purposes. Fennel has been used to aid in digestive issues, to boost the immune system, and relieve other ailments. During medieval times, fennel was thought to ward off evil spirits and was hung above entry doors to keep them at bay.
Fennel is considered a carminative herb, which means that it helps to relieve digestive gases. In addition, fennel contains fiber which helps to keep the digestive tract moving and regular, promoting healthy digestion. Fiber has also been shown to help lower high cholesterol and keep the heart healthy.
Fennel is a great source of many vitamins, but it is most known for being abundant in vitamins A and C, both of which are antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for protecting our bodies from free radicals, some of which can cause certain types of cancer. These vitamins also help to keep your skin bright and healthy, while boosting our immune system.
Potassium is another nutrient that is vital to many functions of the body. It helps to balance the fluid in our bodies and helps us recover after intense workouts. Potassium also helps to keep our kidneys functioning properly. One cup of fennel contains 360mg of potassium giving us 10% of our recommended daily value.1
The seeds and leaves of fennel can be used to make a tea that aids in digestion. You can also use the fronds and leaves in salads and soups to add extra anise-like flavor. The seeds are popular in Indian and Chinese cuisine, where they are used in a variety of dishes.
Fennel is an extremely versatile vegetable and one where all parts can be used in a variety of ways. Try some of our favorite recipes featuring fennel.
1. "Fennel Nutrient Information." USDA - Food Composition Database. US Department of Agriculture, Web.