It may not be well known in North America, but the more we go east, the more we see fennel being incorporated in dishes, especially in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible, and you may also recognize it as being one of the main components of the alcoholic beverage absinthe.
Its many health benefits have now been noticed for well over 2,000 years, popular amongst Roman society and with health practitioners from ancient Greece. Fennel has been widely used to assist the bodily functions of the kidneys, spleen, liver, lungs and digestive system. Based on knowledge transmitted from one generation to another and sometimes thoroughly validated by scientific research, it is known to help treat or improve physical conditions such as diarrhea, indigestion, flatulence, constipation, heart disease, blood pressure, obesity, menstrual disorders, respiratory disorders and even cancer.
Fennel is quite rich in phytoestrogens and is a very respectable source of vitamin C, folate, potassium and fiber. The fiber, folate and potassium all have a quite beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system while also helping to remove carcinogenic toxins from the colon. Apparently, members of the Eulji University in Korea discovered that simply inhaling fennel’s essential oil greatly helped rats digest food while lowering their caloric intake.
Fennel acts as a chemopreventive agent against carcinogenesis
As with practically all herbs, fennel is a very potent antioxidant, but specific studies done at the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center showed that it has exceptional anti-inflammatory properties thanks to a phytonutrient named anethole. This particular component contributes to not only blocking inflammation but also the transformation of regular cells into cancerous ones.
Experiments conducted on rats in New Delhi, India, have made scientists realize that fennel seeds have a chemopreventive effect, although it does vary depending on the doses administered to test subjects. In their research, Swiss albino mice with induced skin and forestomach papillomagenesis were monitored very closely. These tests basically demonstrated that both the expansion and formation of new cancerous cells were strongly inhibited by the fennel seeds’ protective chemical reaction.
Fennels can assist in suppressing appetite as well as activating the metabolism. The Thuringian State Institute of Agriculture in Germany was able to show that fennels help diminish food consumption. It is also believed that fennel consumption not only can drastically reduce food cravings but can also cause fat deposits in the blood to be more efficiently decomposed in order to be used as an energy source. Fennels also tend to increase urination and will reduce water weight. It is definitely recommended to add them to any weight loss program which should also include only healthy fresh organic produce.
Lastly, back in 2011, researchers from the University of Granada found that fennels can somewhat help with sleep thanks to its melatonin content which, of course, is known to regulate it.
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