Fennel seeds are a useful ingredient in the kitchen but are also an excellent natural remedy in case of intestinal swelling, difficult digestion and water retention. Discover the properties and how to use them best.
Following the flowering of the fennel plant (Feniculum vulgare), which arises spontaneously in the Mediterranean area, what we commonly know as fennel seeds are harvested. However, few know that, contrary to what the name would suggest, from a botanical point of view it is not really about seeds but about fruits.
The so-called wild fennel prefers the sea areas and the low hills to grow and flourish and its beneficial properties have been known since ancient times.
Fennel seeds were used not only as natural remedies but also in the kitchen for their flavor reminiscent of that of anise. Even today, these seeds, which look similar to cumin, should be kept close at hand and used as needed both to enrich our favorite recipes and to solve small health problems.
Among the seeds for herbal teas, those of fennel are among the most appreciated for their deflating and digestive power, but also offer other benefits to our body. Let’s see what they are.
Fennel seeds: properties and benefits
Fennel seeds are rich in properties and benefits that can be exploited by using them in the kitchen but also, for example, by preparing a fennel tea to drink after meals or before breakfast. These small seeds, as we can see from the table below, contain within them various substances useful to our body including vitamins (in particular vitamins of group B), minerals (among which calcium, potassium and phosphorus stand out), fibers and essential oils, all active ingredients that give it interesting properties.
Nutritional values per 100g of fennel seeds:
- Kcalories: 370 kcal
- Proteins: 15.93 gr
- Fat: 2.5 gr
- of which saturated: 0.49 gr
- Carbohydrates: 36.9 gr
- Of which sugars: 36.54 gr
- Fiber: 15.83 gr
- Soccer: 1196 mg
- Potassium: 1694 mg
- Phosphorus: 487 mg
- Magnesium: 385 mg
- Iron: 18.54 mg
- Zinc: 3.7 mg
- Manganese: 6.53 mg
- Vitamin B1: 0.408 mg
- Vitamin B2: 0.35 mg
- Vitamin B3: 6.05 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.47 mg
- C vitamin: 21 mg
The benefits of fennel seeds range from diuretic and digestive properties to deflating ones. They are also antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and can help regulate blood pressure and keep cholesterol at bay. So let’s see the properties of fennel seeds more specifically.
Fennel seeds help the stomach work by promoting digestion. Placing them in the dishes we prepare or taking them in the form of herbal tea is an excellent natural way to avoid suffering from heaviness after meals.
✓ Allies of the intestine
Among the grandmother’s remedies for a swollen belly, these seeds occupy a prominent place with which to make a fennel tea useful to avoid the formation of intestinal gas, bloating and cramps. The presence of fibers also helps intestinal regularity.
These precious seeds are also useful to counteract water retention as the active ingredients they contain have diuretic properties. In this case, rather than using them in the kitchen, it is recommended to take the herbal tea with fennel seeds. The presence of water helps to increase the diuretic power of this natural solution.
The antioxidant substances present in fennel seeds help to avoid an excessive formation of free radicals responsible for cellular aging and also to reduce the risk of cancer (especially colon cancer).
Antioxidants also help ensure fennel seeds have a good anti-inflammatory power. There are those who even consider them useful in the treatment of ailments such as Crohn’s disease and arthritis but new scientific confirmations are expected on this.
✓ They keep high blood pressure and cholesterol at bay
Thanks to the presence of potassium, fennel seeds help keep blood pressure at the right levels. The great richness in fiber, on the other hand, helps to keep the bad cholesterol responsible for the appearance of cardiovascular problems at bay.
✓ Rich in calcium
Added to the recipes we love most, fennel seeds can help us increase our daily calcium intake a little, as they are rich in this mineral, which is so useful for healthy bones and teeth.
Some tips for using fennel seeds
Fennel seeds can have many uses, both in cooking and as real natural remedies. Here we present all the uses that you can do with these small seeds with a fresh and decisive flavor.
How to use fennel seeds in cooking
Fennel seeds are extremely versatile in the kitchen and can be used in various savory or sweet recipes starting with bread and other so-called baked products but also in salads, to enrich vegetable and meat dishes or sauces.
Also excellent for decorative use, for example to make canapes or bruschetta more particular. They can be used whole as they are, or ground and powdered. Here are some ideas for bringing fennel seeds to the table more often.
- Bread and bakery products: these seeds blend well with the flavor of the bread that enrich with a very characteristic taste and aroma. They are also perfect for flavoring crackers, bread sticks, taralli, etc. Just insert them inside the dough or sprinkle them on the surface of bread or other preparations.
- Vegetables: they can be added to sauted vegetables to give them that extra flavor, even partially managing to limit the need for salt.
- Meat and fish: many meat-based preparations (especially pork, for example the Tuscan finocchiona) or fish can be enriched using fennel seeds.
- Eggs: even omelettes and omelettes will be tastier and more particular with the addition of fennel seeds.
- Sauces and meat sauce: a simple tomato sauce will become more fragrant and particular by adding some fennel seeds during preparation. Since these seeds go well with meat, nothing prevents you from adding a little to the recipe of the classic ragu.
- Refreshing summer drinks: fennel tea lends itself well to becoming a refreshing, deflating and diuretic summer drink to which you can also add other herbs, such as mint, to make it even tastier and perfect to face the heat. Once ready, it keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days.
As for the combination with other aromatic herbs or spices, fennel seeds are well suited to be used together with bay leaf and pepper.
Fennel seeds as a natural remedy
If you intend to use fennel seeds not so much for their flavor as for their properties, you can choose to use them according to the problem:
- Deflate your stomach and reduce bloating: adding seeds to your favorite dishes allows you to avoid (or at least limit) the formation of intestinal gas. Excellent, for example, over cauliflowers or other crucifers if these give problems of meteorism. They can then be used to prepare herbal teas against abdominal swelling ( deflating herbal teas work well if taken immediately after meals).
- Improving digestion: using fennel seeds every day on foods such as meat, cheese, eggs or in general on foods that make it more difficult to digest, is a simple and tasty way to help the stomach work with less fatigue. Equally effective for digesting well is the fennel tea, to be drunk after large meals.
- Fighting water retention: as already mentioned, in this case it is recommended to take fennel tea.
Deflating herbal tea with fennel seeds
The fennel tea has deflating, carminative, digestive, anti-inflammatory, anti-constipation and diuretic properties. An excellent natural remedy to use in moderation, however, as we will see shortly.
How is it prepared?
The fennel tea is prepared by boiling the seeds for 3 minutes, turning off the heat and leaving it to infuse for another 10 minutes before filtering and drinking.
When to take the deflating herbal tea?
Whenever you feel your stomach is too full, as a result of binges, in case of intestinal cramps but also more simply whenever you want a hot aromatic drink with a diuretic and purifying power.
Contraindications of fennel seeds
Fennel seeds have been used for healing and food purposes since ancient times but there are recent studies that sound the alarm about some contraindications and side effects that should not be underestimated. These concern in particular the presence of estragon inside these seeds, a toxic substance that taken in large quantities can be dangerous.
Lately, several researches advise against taking fennel seed teas during pregnancy, avoiding offering them to babies or small children (all things that, however, are still very common today since it is believed that this herbal tea deflates the belly, for example, in case of colic). It therefore seems that we should change our minds and propose the fennel tea for babies with less lightness.
As for the estragole and breastfeeding relationship, the risks would be equally high. It is believed that this herbal tea is able to increase the milk production of new mothers but lately experts advise against it to avoid the risk that the estragolo passes inside the milk and consequently arrives in the body of the newborn that would not be able to dispose of it. In general, however, everyone is advised not to abuse this remedy considering the possible contraindications of fennel seeds and, if necessary, seek the advice of the doctor in case of use of drugs, or of the pediatrician in the case of children.
Fennel seeds and estragon: the potential risks
But what are the potential risks of excessive consumption of fennel seeds linked to the presence of estragon? Is it true that fennel tea is carcinogenic? According to some studies, taking fennel teas that contain high levels of estragole should be avoided in particular during pregnancy and breastfeeding but also in infants and children (under 4 years old). This is because the molecule would have shown carcinogenic power if taken at high doses.
Probably the level of alarmism was excessive following this news but in any case, given that it is not necessary to take this herbal tea during pregnancy and breastfeeding (and even children can safely do without it), as a precaution we can always avoid by choosing, for example, more plants. safe like chamomile.
Fennel seeds: where to buy them and prices
Fennel seeds are easily found in all herbalists, pharmacies and often even in the supermarket in the department dedicated to spices and aromatic herbs. Finally, you can buy them online. The prices of fennel seeds vary according to the product, the quantity actually present in the packaging, the brand, the origin and obviously if it is organic seeds or not. It starts from around 5 USD and goes up to over 10 USD. However, we advise you to always choose fennel seeds from organic farming, products that are more respectful of the earth and healthier for our body.