People often incorporate fennel into their diet for its licorice-like flavor and health benefits. Many also use it as a natural remedy.
Foeniculum vulgare, or fennel, has a pale bulb and long green stalks. It can grow almost anywhere. All parts of the fennel plant, including the bulb, stalk, leaves, and seeds, are edible.
In this article, we detail the health benefits and nutritional content of fennel.
Fennel is low in calories but rich in nutrients linked to many health benefits.
People can also use fennel seeds, leaves, and flowers in different ways.
People can also steep fennel seeds, leaves, and flowers to make tea. Fennel tea may aid digestion and other gastrointestinal issues such as heartburn, bloating, loss of appetite, and colic in infants.
The vitamin and mineral content in fennel contributes to building and maintaining bone structure and strength in the following ways:
- Phosphate and calcium: Both of these compounds are important in developing and maintaining strong bones.
- Iron and zinc: These are crucial for the production and maturation of collagen.
- Manganese: This mineral is necessary for bone matrix formation.
- Vitamin K: Studies associate low intakes of vitamin K with a higher risk of bone fracture.
Insufficient potassium intake can
In addition, there is evidence that potassium, calcium, and magnesium decrease blood pressure naturally. All of these are present in fennel.
Dietary nitrates in fennel and other foods have vasodilatory and vasoprotective properties. Because of this, they can help lower blood pressure and protect the heart. A 2018 study found that blood pressure levels were lower after taking nitrate supplements.
Vitamin B-6 and folate prevent the build-up of a compound called homocysteine by converting it into a different compound, methionine. When excessive amounts of homocysteine build up, it
Selenium is a mineral found in fennel absent in many other fruits and vegetables. It contributes to liver enzyme function and helps detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body.
The selenium found in fennel appears to stimulate the production of killer T-cells and modulates the immune system in other ways. Studies have shown dietary intake of selenium can improve immune response, especially to viral agents.
Fennel is a source of vitamin B-6, which plays a vital role in energy metabolism by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins into glucose and amino acids. The body can easily use these smaller compounds for energy.
Digestion and regularity
The fiber content in fennel helps to prevent constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
Weight management and satiety
Dietary fiber is an important factor in weight management and works as a “bulking agent” in the digestive system.
These compounds increase satiety and reduce appetite, making an individual feel fuller for longer and lowering overall calorie intake.
Increasing iron absorption
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies globally and is the leading cause of anemia.
Pairing high-vitamin-C foods, such as fennel, with iron-rich foods can improve the ability of the body to absorb iron.
Estrogen occurs naturally in fennel. It plays a central role in regulating the female reproductive cycle, and it can also determine fertility.
A study on mice found that estrogen plays an important role in controlling factors that contribute to body weight, such as appetite, body fat distribution, and energy expenditure.
Changes in a person’s estrogen levels can lead to weight changes.
A 2020 study found that consumption of fennel seed powder reduced menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women over
Raw fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one raw fennel bulb weighing
An 87 g cup of sliced fennel provides:
- 360 milligrams (mg) of potassium
- 45 mg of sodium
- 838 international units (IU) of vitamin A
- 43 mg of calcium
- 10.4 mg of vitamin C
- 0.64 mg of iron
- 0.041 mg of vitamin B-6
- 15 mg of magnesium
Fennel also contains:
Fennel has a crunchy texture and mildly sweet flavor, making it a pleasant addition to any dish, whether eaten raw or cooked. A person can eat all parts of the fennel plant or use the seeds as a condiment.
When buying fennel, avoid spotted or bruised bulbs and look for firmness and a white or pale green color. Stalks should be green, and leaves should be straight and bundled together. A fennel plant with flowering buds is overripe.
To prepare fennel, cut the stalks off the bulb at the base where they sprout and slice it vertically. Prepare the fennel leaves, stalks, and bulb in a variety of ways, including:
- using the stalks as a soup base or stock
- sautéing the leaves and stalks with onions for a quick and easy side
- mixing sliced fennel with a variety of your favorite fresh vegetables for a light, crisp salad
- serving roasted fennel bulbs as an entrée
A person should store dried fennel seeds in an airtight container or a cool, dry area, such as a spice cabinet.
People can enjoy fennel either as the main ingredient or as a seasoning.
Roasted fennel with Parmesan
Keep things super simple with this delicious dish that transforms fennel’s crunchy bulbs into a creamy, cheesy, caramelized treat. All you need is olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper for this quick and easy side dish.
Pasta with fennel, kale, and lemon
This vegetarian pasta dish combines sautéed onion, fennel, kale, garlic, red pepper, and fresh lemon juice for a flavorful meal.
Orange and fennel salad
This fresh salad takes just 10 minutes of prep time. Even though it only requires a few ingredients, it packs a potent dose of flavor.
Curious as to how fennel compares to other flavors? We broke down what makes it unique from similar herbs.
Fennel vs. anise
Like fennel, anise contains high amounts of Vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. Consumers will likely get more nutritional benefits from fennel because it is useful as both a produce and a spice. The primary use of anise is as a spice.
Fennel vs. caraway
Caraway and fennel seeds belong to the same plant family and share similar flavor profiles. Unlike fennel, caraway also includes notes of nuttiness, making it a great addition to savory dishes such as rye bread and various meats.
Fennel vs. dill
People may confuse dill with fennel, as both have feathery, green leaves. However, their tastes are distinct from one another.
Dill shares fennel’s subtle sweetness but has more herbal, grassy flavoring.
Nutritionally, fennel has more fiber, but
Some spices, including coriander, fennel, and caraway, might cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals. Those who are allergic to these spices should not eat them.
Beta-blockers, a heart disease and anxiety medication, can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. One 2016 study reported that people taking beta-blockers had a
People taking these medications may wish to discuss their intake of high-potassium foods such as fennel with their doctor. However, dietary changes are not typically necessary.
High potassium levels in the body can pose a serious risk to people with kidney damage or kidneys that are not fully functional. Damaged kidneys may be unable to filter excess potassium from the blood, which could be fatal.
Fennel is a nutrient-dense vegetable that can be part of a balanced, healthful diet. People can use the flowers, seeds, leaves, and bulbs of fennel plants in different ways, from seasoning dishes to making teas.
It is important to remember that a single food cannot prevent disease and improve overall health, but a varied, nutritious diet can help. Eating a range of fresh foods is the key to good health.