Health Benefits of Fennel and Fennel Seeds


Dried Fennel seeds or Saunf in Hindi are a common sight in our lively country, oftentimes offered after meals in restaurants and homes alike. Presumably for their effective aid in digestion, but is there scientific backing for this and are there more potentially health positive effects of fennel? Yes and yes, while research on the subject is limited and thus inconclusive, said research does indicate that fennel have numerous properties that affect your health in a positive way. We come to you with Health Benefits of Fennel and Fennel Seeds.

Digestive aid

It is generally accepted that our ancestors had better general health, but what was their secret? Well, it is among the modest ingredients in their cuisine. From the fennel plant, the bulb, the foliage, the fruit and quite obviously, the seeds are utilized in numerous culinary traditions around the globe. They are quite well known for having properties that help digestion and not for no good reason, Fennel contain Anethole, a chemical compound which can help relax in the stomach and intestine, easing constipation, allowing gas to pass and relieve bloating. So fennel is to no end, beneficial to your digestive tract.

High Nutritional Value

In addition to being delicious, both the crunchy bulb and the aromatic seeds are jam packed with essential nutrients while containing low calorie count. In fact, one cup of fresh fennel bulb, while containing only 27 calories, has 3 grams of fiber and 12% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. While 2 grams of fiber and 17% of the recommended daily intake of Manganese are found one table spoon of fennel seeds worth only 20 calories. Vitamin C is essential for strong immune system and tissue repair. Vitamin C also helps in collagen synthesis and acts as an antioxidant, preventing free radicals from causing cell damage. Manganese is a mineral that helps in enzyme activation, metabolism, bone development, cell damage prevention, blood sugar regulation, and wound healing. Other than Vitamin C and Manganese, both fennel buds and fennel seeds have healthy quantity of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium, all crucial minerals for bone health.

Fennel Seeds Might Be Appetite Suppressants

Do you get cravings? Do you eat more than you know you should? Well then fennel seeds might be beneficial to you. As detailed before, fennel seeds contain fiber and soluble fiber intake help in suppressing appetite. But wait, there is more; a small study showed that individuals who took 250 ml of tea made with 2 grams of fennel seeds before lunch felt a significant decline in appetite and therefore consumed fewer calories than those who took a placebo tea. As mentioned before, fennel seeds contain Anethole, which might have appetite suppressing properties.

That being said, in another larger study, individuals supplemented with 300 grams of fennel extracts daily over a period of 12 weeks put on a small amount of weight compared to a group that took placebo supplementation. So the research in this area is small but contradicting suggesting there are several other factors involved. More research is needed. So, will it work for you? Who knows? But it doesn’t hurt to try.

Possibly Beneficial To Breastfeeding Women

Fennel has shown to be effective in increasing milk secretion. Certain substances found in Anethole may have galactogenic properties meaning it help in milk secretion and as we have established before, Anethole is ever present in fennel. According to some research, fennel helps in raising prolactin levels in blood, prolactin is a hormone that signals the body to produce breast milk.

But there are other studies that show contradicting observations. Finding no increase in milk secretion and no weight gain in breastfeeding infants. Furthermore, side effects such as poor weight gain and difficulty feeding were reported in infants with mothers that drank lactation teas with fennel extract.

So if you are considering fennel for its galactogenic effects, consult your doctor before hand to confirm safety.

May Help Battle Cancer

There are numerous powerful plant compounds found in fennel. They might help guard against chronic diseases, some forms of cancer included. Anethole, which we have established multiple times is the main active compound in fennel, exhibits cancer fighting properties. According to a test-tube study, anethole suppressed cell growth and induced programmed cell death in human breast cancer cells. Yet another test tube study demonstrated that anethole can stop the spread of breast cancer cells and once again, killed off cancer cells. Animal studies have shown that fennel seed extracts can help guard off breast and liver cancer. While these are encouraging conclusions, human studies are necessary before recommending fennel for cancer treatment.

Battling Illnesses

Fennel seeds and fennel plants have compounds that have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Certain recent studies have shown that spices like fennel and red chili are potentially effective in battling cholera-related bacteria. The anti-viral effect of fennel is highly effective against herpes viruses. And the anti-inflammatory effects of fennel might be effective in the inflammation of main lung airways (bronchitis). Fennel is also suspected to help in battling upper airway infections.

Animal studies have suggested that age related cognitive decline can be reduced with fennel extract.

Certain studies have suggested that fennel may improve sexual function in menopause women.

Other Benefits

There are several other potentially beneficial effects of fennel seeds including:

  • Relief from menstrual cramps
  • Aid in absence of menstrual periods
  • Aid in hirsutism
  • Sunburn relief
  • Help in anxiety
  • Help in Insomnia

Side Effects

Well we’ve given you the good, but it rarely is all good in life, there are liable to be some adverse effects and well, we can tell you about it and you can take a few precautions if needed.

Oil can be extracted from fennel seeds into concentrated forms, these oils have powerful chemicals that in excess can lead to ill effects.

An animal research study showed that high quantities of fennel seed oils raised female hormones in mice. It isn’t known if fennel seeds have the same effect on people or how much you would need to eat.

While the estrogenic properties of fennel may help relieve menopausal symptoms, it could possibly be unsafe for pregnant women. It is possible fennel could disturb fetal growth and development. Saunf and the plant itself might be safe, but please avoid taking supplements or essential oils of fennel during pregnancy.

There is also a possibility of allergies.


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