Crunchy with a sweet aroma and a unique taste, fennel seeds are a favorite around the world. These seeds originate from Southern Europe and are grown in Middle East, Turkey, and China. They come from the parsley family and are a part of several Mediterranean cuisines.
In appearance and taste, they are similar to anise seeds. Fennel seeds boast a strong nutritional profile as they contain fiber, antioxidants, and minerals such as potassium, zinc, copper, magnesium, selenium, and calcium. Their composition is also rich with essential oils and they contain vitamins A, E, and C. B-complex vitamins can also be found in fennel seeds.
Since they are dense in the nutrient department, several health benefits accompany them. Let’s walk you through a list of 12 ways these seeds can improve your health:
1 – They regulate blood pressure levels
Chewing on fennels seeds can regulate healthy blood pressure levels. These seeds increase nitrate in saliva which naturally maintains blood pressure levels. Potassium, which plays a role in controlling blood pressure markers, is also found in fennel seeds.
2 – They support weight loss
Fennel seeds increase nutrient absorption along with decreasing the accumulation of fats. This they owe to the high content of fiber present in them. Furthermore, fennel seeds can also suppress one’s appetite, a feature which enables weight maintenance.
3 – They decrease water retention
Drinking fennel tea also eliminates excess fluids from the body. This is because fennel seeds have diuretic properties. They detoxify the body and hence, prevent urinary tract infections. Moreover, the diaphoretic properties of these seeds also trigger perspiration.
4 – They improve digestion
Fennel seeds contain oils such as fenchone, estragole and anethole which can help with getting rid of digestive problems such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. This is why people often toss some fennel seeds in their mouth after a meal. These oils help with digestion by increasing the production of gastric enzymes.
5 – They can reduce the symptoms of asthma
The phytonutrients in fennel seeds can help clear sinuses. Sinus is a condition which is caused because of inflammation of the cavities around the nasal passages. Fennel seeds have anti-inflammatory properties which is how they can help reduce asthma symptoms.
6 – They can relieve pain
Fennel seeds can also act as pain-relievers. Due to this quality, they are often used to decrease menstrual cramps or stomach pain which is related to digestive ailments. What they basically do is that they relax muscles and reduce inflammation. Their overall soothing effect enables them to relieve one of pain.
7 – They work as mouth fresheners
Fennel seeds are often used for freshening one’s breath. They also improve oral health. This is because chewing on fennel seeds encourages saliva production. Saliva can reduce the bacteria in the mouth. Fennel oil has the antibacterial properties as well which allow it to combat germs.
8 – They detoxify the body
Fennel seeds are not only rich sources of essential oils but also of fiber. This is how they can eliminate toxins from the body. They can cleanse the body which allows for proper nutrient absorption. This stresses on the need for you to add fennel seeds in your diet.
9 – They better vision
The vast benefits of fennel seeds also include their ability to improve your eyesight. The tiny seeds are rich sources of vitamin A which is essential for your eyes. This vitamin in the composition of the seeds can help reduce the symptoms of glaucoma. Ground fennel seeds or fennel extract is used in the Indian subcontinent till date for this purpose.
10 – They boost liver health
Since fennel seeds contain fiber and hence, have the ability to help to detoxify the body, they can also improve liver health. What’s more, they have a high content of selenium which can enhance liver functionality along with flushing out toxins from the body.
11 – They boast anti-cancer properties
The antioxidants in fennel seeds give them the ability to fight off free radical damage. This combats oxidative stress and saves one from many types of cancers including skin cancer, stomach cancer, and breast cancer.
12 – They improve sleep quality
Adding fennel seeds to your diet can also be helpful in another way – they can improve your sleep. Some studies back this as well. The explanation behind this is that fennel seeds comprise of magnesium, a mineral which is linked to improved sleep quality and duration.
Side effects of fennel seeds
Despite the fact that fennel seeds come with several many health benefits, overdosing on them can be harmful. The same rule that applies to everything, applies to fennel seeds as well – use in moderation. Some of the negative side effects that accompany the intake of high quantities of fennel seeds are the following:
1 – They can interfere with medicines
If you’re taking drugs for seizure disorders or epilepsy, it is best to avoid eating fennel seeds. This is because fennel seeds can worsen your condition by interfering with the working of the medications you are taking.
2 – They can cause contact dermatitis, thelarche, and photodermatitis
Photodermatitis is a condition in which symptoms such as pain, and red rashes show up when your skin is exposed to the sun. Contact dermatitis is characterized by the appearance of inflammation and blisters on the skin. Whereas thelarche refers to breast development at puberty. Fennel seeds can cause these three conditions, it is particularly responsible for premature thelarche.
3 – They can cause an allergic reaction in some people
Fennel seeds can also cause allergies. People who already have allergies should, therefore, avoid these seeds. As WebMD points out, those who are allergic to celery, carrots or mugwort, they are likely to experience an allergic reaction to fennel seeds as well.
4 – They are linked to certain cancers
Fennel seeds are also associated with certain cancers. This is because they act as estrogen so people who have cancers or conditions which can be further worsened by estrogen exposure, should avoid them. Some researches shows that breast cancer can be caused because of these seeds.
Take home message
To sum up, fennel seeds help your health in many ways since they are nutrient-dense. They contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber as well as essential oils which enable them to improve digestion, vision, liver health, etc.
However, some negative side effects of use are also associated with the intake of fennel seeds. Therefore, one must not consume them in huge quantities and should avoid taking them if he is allergic to the seeds, taking medications, or has a medical condition that can be worsened with estrogen exposure.