Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare
) is a member of the family Apiaceae
. It is a hardy, perennial herb, with yellow flowers. Fennel is native to Southern Europe and is grown extensively all over Europe, Middle-East, China, India and Turkey.
Fennel seeds are 4-10mm long, thin and slightly curved with colors that vary from brown to light green. Fennel has a distinctive bittersweet smell and a slightly minty taste. Fennel is a very commonly used herb which is aromatic and loaded with flavor
How are Fennel seeds used?
Fennel is used for the following purposes
Culinary uses of fennel seeds
Fennel is used quite often in Indian cookery especially in Kashmiri Pandit
cooking. In India Fennel is more commonly known as Sauf
. Fennel seeds and powdered fennel seeds both are used in food preparation.
Roasted fennel seeds are consumed as an after-meal digestive and herbal breath freshener. In India, these are routinely chewed upon after meals to aid in digestion especially when one has eaten a rich meal, which means a diet rich in fats. You will not find a restaurant that specializes in Indian food which does not offer Sauf
after a sumptuous meal.
Fennel Seeds Nutritional Value per 100 gm
(Source: USDA nutritional database)
Medicinal uses of fennel seeds
Fennel seeds are often used as a home remedy to provide quick and effective relief from many digestive disorders. They help to overcome gas issues, cramps, indigestion, and many other digestive tract maladies.
Natural home remedies and herbal medicines are always preferred when compared to chemical drugs. Herbs having pharmacological effects are cost effective and have very low or no side effects. Medicinal herbs are a safe alternative to chemical drugs.
There is a lot of research being carried out to on how to incorporate the active components of herbs into drugs to reduce side effects.
Pharmacological effects of Fennel seeds
There is a lot of evidence that shows extracts of fennel exhibit different pharmacological properties such as:
Fennel also acts as a galactagogue, stimulating milk production in lactating mothers. Fennel demonstrates several other pharmacological effects and a lot of research work is being carried out on the bio-active compounds of Fennel.
Medicinal/pharmacological properties of the fennel are due to its different phytochemical compounds present in it. Some of these plant chemicals or phytochemicals found in fennel are volatile compounds, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, fatty acids, and amino acids.
How to store fennel seed powder?
Fennel seeds are available throughout the year. It is always safer to buy fennel in seed form rather than in powder form to avoid buying adulterated products. In case you grind Fennel into powder to use, store it in air tight container and keep in the refrigerator. Do not store the powder for long because fennel powder tends to lose its flavor very fast.
Fennel is a source of several nutrients and dietary fiber but since it is used in small quantities it is considered more important for its medicinal value. As a spice and mouth freshner it can be incorporated into a balanced diet and in the long run it will contribute towards improving health.