Fennel Seeds Health Benefits
Nothing is more satisfying than popping a handful of fennel seeds (saunf) after a heavy meal. However, little do we know about its other health benefits apart from being a mouth freshener.
Fennel is a herb that belongs to the Parsley (Umbelliferae) family. The other well-known members of this family are Cumin, Dill, and Anise. It is abundantly found in India, Western China and other parts of Asia. Historically, Fennel was common in Europe and the Mediterranean region too. Traditionally, fennel is part of various recipes like soups, bread, Indian pickles, and gravies.
Fennel seeds have been in use for many years with proven health benefits, and rightly so, as they are being used in multiple ways in our day to day Indian cooking. Every ancient Indian practice has a science and logic behind it, and the use of Fennel seeds is no exception. Fennel has also occupied a special place in natural Ayurveda treatment because of its enormous health benefits.
Healthy Fennel Seeds
Facilitates Digestion :-
Fennel seeds can improve digestion by increasing the internal metabolism (the process of burning the food into energy). It does the same without increasing the internal body heat (Pitta-as called in Ayurveda), thereby reducing post-digestive discomfort. Fennel seeds also helps to bring about a balance between the three components of the body- Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which is the most essential factor to have good health and vitality. It also relieves infants from the colic pain they usually experience in the first few months. The use of Fennel seeds can be as simple as chewing them in the mouth for a while and sucking its juice to something fancier, like incorporating them into various authentic recipes. Fennel in any form promotes digestion and can thus be effective against bloating and gassiness.
Mouth Freshener :-
It is a natural mouth freshener, and it can even be used to make your own mouthwash. It can simply be done by boiling fennel seeds in water until the colour changes to brown and filtering out the seeds after that. You can use this to rinse your mouth after a meal or as required.
Weight loss :-
Fennel is rich in dietary fibre, and it can promote weight loss by decreasing hunger pangs. Research has found that the compound Anethole present in them is the reason behind the curbing of the appetite.
Keeps the Heart Healthy :-
Being rich in fibre, calcium, potassium and magnesium, Fennel seeds help reduce bad cholesterol and thus reduce the risk of heart disease. It can also lower blood pressure which is an important factor causing heart disease.
Promotes Lactation :-
Including fennel in the diet has been proven to improve milk secretion in breastfeeding mothers. The levels of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production in women, seems to be higher with the intake of fennel.
Anti-Ageing and Anti-Cancer properties :-
The antioxidant property of Fennel is responsible for its anti-ageing and anti-cancer benefits. It also contains Vitamin E and Vitamin A, which again contribute to the same benefit.
Other Minor benefits:
- Improves Eyesight : The presence of Vitamin A aids in improvement in eyesight. Ancient Ayurveda had even used Fennel extract for treating eye-related conditions.
- Relieve menstrual cramps : Because of the presence of Vitamin E, there have been reports of fennel seeds reducing the intensity of menstrual cramps.
- Reduce symptoms of asthma : The extracts of fennel seeds are being used as Gargles in cases of chest congestion and asthma. This can reduce the symptoms by lowering the amount of secretion.
- A cooling effect on the body : As mentioned earlier, fennel brings about a balance between Vata, Pitta and Kapha in the body and as a result, it has a cooling effect on the body. Naturally, problems related to body heat like acidity, heat boils, etc., can be avoided.
- Cure for Acne : Calcium, Zinc and Selenium present in these seeds provide an excellent remedy for acne. It is incorporated in various skin ointments because of its healing properties. Not only for acne, they are used for other skin problems, too, like dryness and rashes, and they also help improve the glow.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Who should not consume Fennel seeds ?
Pregnant women should avoid consuming fennel seeds. It is said that it can act like the hormone Estrogen and is hence not suitable for pregnant women. It can affect the growth of the baby in its early stages.
Q. Does Fennel have antibacterial properties ?
Yes, they do have mild antibacterial properties and hence they are used in ointments for acne cure. It also acts against certain yeast and fungal infections.
Q. Can consuming fennel improve mental health ?
Yes, it has been proven that consuming fennel on a regular basis improves memory and prevents age-related memory problems.
Q. What all vitamins and minerals do fennel seeds provide to our body ?
Minerals like calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper, potassium and selenium are present in them. They are also rich in vitamins like Vitamin A, E, C and Vitamin B complex.
Chia Seeds Health Benefits
The word “Chia” is derived from an ancient Mayan language meaning strength. And as the name implies, these seeds are tiny powerhouses, and they provide enormous physical stamina. No wonder it was a part of the regular diet of the Mayans and Aztecs. And, not surprisingly, Aztecs believed them to be so potent that they were offered to their Gods.
They are oval, greyish–black seeds belonging to the Salvia hispanica plant, closely related to the commonly used Mint leaves. They have a nutty flavour and are often called ‘Superseeds’, owing to the presence of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Forms available for consumption:
- Fresh seeds that can be eaten alone.
They have the magical combination of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, minerals, protein, manganese, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. They also contain Vitamin B complex.
Healthy Chia Seeds
- Superfood : Being of high nutritional value and low in calories makes it a superfood.
- High fibre content : This will make you regular and prevent everyday struggles. They also maintain the gut flora in a healthy state.
- Promotes weight loss : As the seeds absorb water, it makes the stomach feel full for a long time. This, in turn, prevents hunger episodes, thereby aiding in weight loss.
- Heart health : Omega-3 fatty acids help in regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This, in turn, benefits the heart by preventing diseases like heart attack and stroke.
- Promotes bone health : Calcium and other mineral contents help in promoting bone health, especially in females nearing menopause.
- Boosts up energy : Being a superfood, it provides a lot of energy and naturally increases the body metabolism. It is very useful for those who do regular exercise.
- Helps lower blood sugar levels : When consumed regularly, these seeds can increase the sensitivity of insulin (the hormone responsible for lowering blood sugar) and thus help diabetic patients to maintain an optimal level of glucose.
Ideas to Use Them
1. They can be sprinkled on smoothies, salads, yoghurt, sandwiches or oatmeal.
2. They can also be sprinkled on bread or muffins before baking.
3. When one tablespoon of seeds is mixed with three tablespoons of water, it forms a thick gel-like consistency. This can be used as a substitute for eggs in baking.
4. They can be included in homemade dry fruit laddoos and energy bars. Along with the protein punch, they add the much-needed fibre edge.
5. It is better to make your own fruit popsicle with the boost of chia seeds rather than the sugary store-bought ones.
6. Ground chia seeds can be added to cereal, rice dishes and sautéd vegetables.
7. They can also be soaked in fruit juice to make a popular drink called ‘Chia Fresco’.
8. They can be mixed with cornflour to make tortillas for wraps.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are there any side effects of consuming Chia seeds for the first time ?
One can expect mild gastric disturbances such as bloating and flatulence.
Q. What can happen if they are over consumed ?
It can cause low blood pressure in prone individuals. Also, it can cause swallowing difficulty as they absorb a lot of water and expand in size exponentially.
Q. What is the optimal amount for consumption of Chia seeds ?
One and a half teaspoons of chia seeds will be a safe quantity to reap the benefits and avoid the side effects. However, it is better to consult a physician as there can be individual variations.
Q. Is there any reported allergy to chia seeds ?
Yes, a few people are reported to be allergic. It can cause symptoms like rashes, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Q. Does it have anti-ageing effects ?
Chia seeds have anti-oxidant and anti-ageing properties and thus help to keep the ill effects of free radicals produced in the body to a minimum.
Size does not matter when it comes to nutrition. Although tiny, Chia seeds and Fennel seeds have enormous health benefits and provide every reason to be included in our day-to-day diet. In this day and age, they are readily available in every possible form, making it convenient for us to incorporate them into our favourite food. There is enough evidence to prove that these seeds have been used successfully over centuries without any problem. Now, it is up to us to put it to use and pass on the knowledge to the next generation as well.
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