The fennel , also known as anise, is an aromatic and honeyed plant – one of those that attract bees. Its scientific name is pimpinela anisum and it belongs to the Apiaceae family, where we can also find dill, chervil, celery, coriander, cumin, carrot, fennel, parsley and others also used in cooking.
Considered a medicinal plant, fennel has been used for many centuries to treat digestion problems, intestinal gas, kidney and liver difficulties and also to wash the eyeball. In addition to its medicinal properties, it also has several nutrients that are essential for our body, including vitamin C, folic acid, iron, manganese and potassium.
The plant also has antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, expectorant, diuretic, depurative and antioxidant actions. Check below the main benefits of fennel for our body, as well as its properties.
Fennel has vitamin K, zinc, manganese, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and iron among its nutrients, which help build and maintain bone structure and strength. It’s still important to remember that calcium and phosphorus are essential for bones. However, excessive consumption of phosphorus, combined with little calcium, can lead to the formation of osteoporosis. Therefore, there needs to be a balanced consumption of these two minerals.
Balanced potassium intake has vasodilating effects on our body. And, when combined with calcium and magnesium, the mineral acts to relax the tension of blood vessels, reducing blood pressure.
High blood pressure is directly linked to different health problems such as stroke, atherosclerosis and heart attack. Hence the importance of maintaining stabilized blood pressure.
Potassium is considered an electrolyte, meaning that it works by facilitating electrical conduction throughout the body and this includes connections within the brain. In this way, it can help increase brain function and cognitive abilities. As it is also considered a vasodilator, potassium allows more oxygen to reach the brain. Therefore, one of the benefits of consuming fennel is the improvement in neural activity.
Fennel is a plant that has significant amounts of folic acid, fiber, potassium and vitamins C and B6 in its composition. These nutrients are responsible for the benefits that the plant offers to the heart.
Fiber, for example, helps with cholesterol levels in the bloodstream and works to reduce the onset of heart disease, for example. Vitamin B6, on the other hand, works by preventing the accumulation of homocysteine, an organic compound that when found in excess in our body can damage blood vessels, which increases the risk of heart disease.
Among the various nutrients present in fennel is the mineral selenium. It plays an extremely important role in the liver’s enzyme function, as it helps to detoxify the organ of compounds that can cause cancer and inflammation, reducing the growth of tumors.
In addition, fennel also has folate in its composition, a nutrient that works by synthesizing and repairing DNA. In this way, it prevents the formation of cancer cells.
Vitamin B6, present in the nutrients of fennel, works in our body by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins and transforming them into glucose and amino acids. They are smaller compounds that are used to supply the energy expended within our body.
- digestion and bowel health
Because it is high in fiber, fennel has benefits related to constipation and helps keep the digestive system healthy and functioning regularly. In addition, some of the plant’s components act by stimulating digestive secretions and gastric juice and reducing inflammation present in the intestine and stomach. This process facilitates the absorption of nutrients present in food.
The high presence of fiber in fennel is also responsible for another benefit of the plant: weight control and satiety. This benefit gives the reputation that fennel tea slims down. However, this is because fiber works as dilating agents in the digestive system. They increase the feeling of satiety and, consequently, decrease the appetite. As a result, calorie intake is reduced and weight control takes place.
Fennel is a plant rich in vitamin C and foods with this nutrient help increase the body’s ability to absorb iron. A nutritional deficiency of this mineral causes anemia – a condition in which the blood does not have enough healthy red blood cells.
- reproductive cycle and colic
Estrogen, a component present in fennel, helps to keep the female reproductive cycle regulated and also helps in fertility. In addition, the plant also helps to regulate the hormonal action in the body, as estrogen is found in different medications used to reduce PMS, and to reduce discomfort by menstrual cramps, as it has antispasmodic qualities.
Fennel helps reduce diseases that are related to macular degeneration and premature aging. Therefore, it is customary to use the juices of the fennel leaves to reduce eye fatigue.
As mentioned earlier, fennel is a source of vitamin C and this nutrient helps form collagen, which is the skin’s support system. Thus, the presence of this nutrient in our body helps to prevent damage caused by skin exposure to the sun, pollution and smoke. Vitamin C helps smooth out wrinkles and also works by improving the texture of our skin.
HOW TO CONSUME FENNEL?
The most common way to consume the plant is through teas. So, see recipes for how to make fennel tea below. To have access to all the properties of fennel, it is possible to prepare it in two different ways. The most common is using the leaves of the plant, but it is also possible to make tea with fennel seed.
- Fennel tea with leaves recipe:
To prepare the tea you will need a liter of water and five fennel leaves. Bring the water to a boil and add the leaves. When it starts to boil, count to 3 and turn off the heat. Leave the container capped and rest for five minutes. During this time the leaves will release the plant’s beneficial properties.
- Fennel tea with seeds recipe:
To prepare the tea, you will need a liter of water and three tablespoons of dried fennel seed. Bring the water to a boil and, when it has boiled, add the dried fennel seed. Leave for another 30 seconds, turn off and cap the container. Then let the tea sit for about five minutes. After, strain and serves.
ARE THERE ANY CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR CONSUMING FENNEL?
Before drinking fennel tea, it is necessary to pay attention to some important precautions. People who have ingested steroids, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids, should avoid consuming the plant. Those who should also avoid drinking tea are patients with duodenal ulcer, diverticulitis, reflux and ulcerative colitis.
The fennel tea in pregnancy is also not recommended in an exaggerated way, for, like most teas, it does not induce spontaneous approach. However, in a moderate way, tea can relieve the pain and discomfort caused by pregnancy. Therefore, the tip is to consult the doctor first.
However, for women who have already had a child and are breastfeeding, it is highly recommended due to the presence of estrogen in its composition. It helps to reduce the discomfort of colic. But then, fennel tea for the baby, what is it for? The tea has the same purpose: to reduce the pain that is caused by intestinal cramps in the first few months of a child’s life. When the mother drinks the tea, its benefits go to her milk too, which is passed on to the baby.