I recently discovered and tried a super food that I had never eaten before: fennel. It is healthy, tastes like aniseed and it also has medicinal properties. This vegetable is rather undervalued. Unknown makes unloved? That is such a shame as it is a very versatile and healthy vegetable. Let me tell you why.
It tastes like aniseed.
Fennel is a firm, flat white bulb, a flowering plant species in the carrot family. It grows above ground and its foliage can grow up to two meters high. It has a very distinct taste as it clearly tastes like aniseed. Many people find it delicious, but if you do not like aniseed then you probably will not like fennel either. When buying this vegetable, make sure it has no brown spots on the outside. The more brown spots, the older the fennel. This does however not detract from the taste, it just looks less beautiful. It is also a vegetable that can be stored for a while; you can certainly keep it in the fridge for a week.
You can use this vegetable in a lot of different ways; in stir-fries, for cooking or to put in a stew. It can be eaten raw in a salad or you can make a soup with it. And with its foliage as decoration, you can give a weekday dish a top chef-look! Perhaps better known than fennel itself is fennel tea. It is made from fennel seed and could have a calming effect. Why not make your own fennel tea by cutting a fennel up in small pieces and by letting it infuse in boiling water.
In addition to its special taste, there are 11 surprising reasons for putting this vegetable more often on your menu. They are listed below.
1 Preventing anaemia
Fennel contains a lot of iron that is used by the body for the production of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the part of the blood that provides oxygen transport through the body. This prevents anaemia and will make you feel more energetic and less tired.
2 Packed with antioxidants
Your body is constantly threatened by free radicals. These are small molecules that have an aggressive effect and can damage the body. Alcohol, smoking, medicines, cosmetics, burned food, old frying fat but also heavy exercise can increase the free radicals. Antioxidants help protect the body (as soldiers against the terrorists). There’re 3 different types of antioxidants in fennel! Those 3 work together and reinforce each other, certainly in combination with vitamin C, with the side effect of preventing premature aging. Another good reason to use fennel!
3 Helps with digestion and can prevent flatulence
There is a substance in fennel, aspartic acid, which has wind-drifting properties. This prevents the build-up of excess gas. Fennel also contains ingredients that stimulate the secretion of digestive juices, which supports the absorption and degradation of nutrients.
4 Vitamin C
There is a lot of vitamin C in fennel. This supports the immune system.
Fennel also contains potassium. This is known to stimulate the oxygen supply to the brain. That is why fennel could help to prevent and /or slow down certain cerebrovascular diseases such as Alzheimer’s, MS and Parkinson’s. Did you know for example that the cause of Parkinson’s is determined for 30% by genes and that 70% of it is caused by environmental factors, such as diet and lifestyle? Nutrition can therefore also be a powerful medicine.
6 Regulate blood pressure
The potassium in fennel also helps to regulate blood pressure because potassium dilates the blood vessels in our body, reducing the pressure on the vessels. For example, eating fennel can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Certain substances in fennel are able to get rid of bacteria. They can prevent diseases that occur due to bacteria, such as for example diarrhoea.
8 Menstrual complaints
When you suffer from menstrual pains, certain substances that are present in fennel could help you relax. You could make fennel tea and see if it helps. The seeds of the fennel are stronger than the fennel itself.
Fennel also has an expectorant capacity which means that it helps loosen mucus so you can cough it up. This is due to 2 substances: amatol and cineole. The water content of the mucus is increased, thinning it out and making your cough more productive. If you have issues with your airways, then fennel could give relief.
10 Support liver function
Fennel has a cleansing and diuretic ability. This helps your liver to do its job properly. As a result, toxins are quickly excreted from the body via urine.
The seeds of the fennel seem to have an appetite-suppressing effect. Good news when you want to lose weight. They also stop a rumbling stomach. By chewing the seeds of a fennel, your breath will also become fresher.
Enough reasons to eat or drink fennel regularly. And remember this; raw is better as with cooking or baking part of the taste, and the good substances, will get lost. If you have to get used to the taste, I advise you to start with boiled fennel. In boiled or fried fennel the aniseed flavour is less prominent than in raw fennel. Of course you should not exaggerate and eat it all the time. I sometimes notice that when I read / discover that something is very healthy, I put it too often on the menu. The more variation and the more different colours of food on your plate, the better it is.
Babies with colic and mother with breastfeeding
Fennel tea is often used for babies who have colic. But you have to be careful. As a nursing mother it is better to drink fennel tea f or to eat fennel. Then the substances, which can have a calming effect on the intestines of the baby, have already been digested by the mother’s milk before the baby drinks it. And again don’t exaggerate. As a nursing mother eat or drink fennel occasionally. Too much fennel can have the opposite effect.
Finally, fennel is thought to have a stimulating effect on breastfeeding. Here again the same applies: use fennel occasionally and it can stimulate breastfeeding, but if you eat it too often, it can actually have an inhibitory effect. So again: everything in moderation and vary the foods you eat.
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To Better Health,