The Futures in Fennel
Sweet, anise-flavoured fennel seed together with thyme, nettle and mugwort has been revered as one of nine Anglo-Saxon sacred and health benefiting herbs. It was believed to aid in weight loss, and used as an appetite suppressant during long voyages and fasts. Some western cultures used Fennel to adorn doors and keyholes to prevent evil spirits from entering the homestead, especially during the summer solstice. However, fennel is most popular for its use in food, even being used in the popular spirit, Absinthe.
The spice is one of the most sought-after ingredients in many popular cuisines all over the Mediterranean regions. Fennel is a perennial herb plant belong to parsley or Umbelliferae family, a broad family of herbs and spices, includes some common members as caraway, dill, anise and cumin. The Scientific name of fennel is Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce.
Fennel symbolizes longevity, courage, and strength. In addition to its use as medicinal values, Fennel offers many health benefiting nutrients, essential compounds, anti-oxidants, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Fennel’s dried ripe seeds and oil are used to make medicine and indeed contain numerous flavonoid anti-oxidants like kaempferol and quercetin. These compounds function as powerful anti-oxidants by removing harmful free radicals from the body thus protect from cancers, infection, aging and degenerative neurological diseases. Commonly used for various digestive problems including heartburn, intestinal gas, bloating, loss of appetite, and colic in infants.
Women use fennel for increasing the flow of breast milk, promoting menstruation, easing the birthing process, and increasing sex drive. Interestingly Fennel powder is used as a poultice for snakebites. In foods and beverages, fennel oil is used as a flavouring agent in certain laxatives, and as a fragrance component in soaps and cosmetics.
There seems to be no end to the use of fennel. The health benefits of Fennel have only recently been uncovered. In fact Fennel may be the next super food, not hard to believe considering its history.
Fennel is a crunchy and sweet vegetable, with leaves that have a strong, liquorice-like flavour. Often used in Mediterranean cuisine and Italian cooking, this plant has become popular all over the world. Fennel is so versatile and easy to plant, farm, and suitable for home growing. It makes a pleasant and rewarding crop in a vegetable patch.
The bulb of the fennel plant contains great amounts of vitamin C and fibre, aiding good digestion and cholesterol. The bulb is a rich source of folic acid and potassium, which improves brain and heart health.
In India, and many other parts of the world, fennel is considered the ideal aperitif. It is chewed after meals to freshen breath and aid digestion. Fennel reduces inflammation in the colon and stimulates the production of digestive juices in the bowel. The aspartic acid in fennel reduces flatulence and harmful bacteria in the digestive tract thereby reducing the risk of stomach flu and diarrhoea.
Historically fennel was used in eye care. While it is true that ingesting fennel can prevent muscular degeneration, the juice can be applied externally to prevent inflammation and redness around the eye.
However, on a cautionary note this incredible plant must be consumed with care. If too much fennel is consumed, its strong anti-bacterial qualities may kill good bacteria in the body. Increased consumption can also over stimulate the heart, causing heart palpitations.
If consumed correctly and responsibly, fennel can be an easily accessible super food used to enhance the diet. The vitamin rich composition and sweet flavour make it a highly enjoyable edible herbal food that should have a permanent space in every kitchen. Why not add this to your shopping list?
Ref : Eco Health Sense / Lauren Hammond