If you’re looking to give that salad some extra zing or add flavor to a special recipe, fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a great choice. Not only does the bulb boast a slightly sweet flavor reminiscent of licorice making it an enjoyable addition to many meals, but it’s loaded with healthy benefits.
Maybe you currently enjoy fennel. Perhaps you’ve pondered the somewhat unusual-looking plant, a white bulb from which tall stalks protrude, only to pass it up in the store (however after reading this, we’re sure it’ll end up in your cart next time). Either way, fennel’s health benefits should not be overlooked. Here’s a deeper look at fennel, including some little-known fun facts.
Top 4 Health Benefits of Fennel
One of fennel’s many phytonutrients is the compound anethole, which has been shown to play a role in helping prevent the onset and spread of cancer. For example, a study published in Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin explained how anethole inhibited the spread of cancer cells. Additionally, because fennel is a good source of fiber (one cup of fennel yields 10.8% of the daily value for fiber), it’s been associated with removal of toxins from the colon and therefore may be helpful in colon cancer prevention. Fennel seed extract has been found to play a role in preventing various strains of breast and liver cancers.
While many foods contain phytonutrients, only fennel has its own unique combination of them. Rutin, quercitin and a number of kaempferol glycosides are all flavonoids in fennel that provide a host of healthy benefits. Rutin, for example, has been shown to bolster inadequate circulation due to its ability to strengthen blood capillaries and quercitin anti-inflammatory properties can help ease asthma symptoms.
Boosts Immune System Health
Because one cup of fennel has approximately 20% of our daily requirement of vitamin C, it’s an outstanding source that helps to strengthen our immune system. Vitamin C, with its ability to rid free radicals, is also important because it repairs skin tissue and protects blood vessel walls.
Lowers High Blood Pressure
Fennel is a good source of potassium, which is a key mineral known to reduce high blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure can reduce risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Other Interesting and Fun Fennel Facts
Did you know . . .
- Greek myths associate fennel with the Greek god of food and wine, Dionysus.
- Fennel was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite vegetable.
- Fennel is a popular antiflatulent, due to properties that help prevent the buildup of gas in the intestinal tract as well as the release of it.
- Fennel is closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander.
- According to Greek myth, a fennel stalk carried the coal that passed down knowledge from the gods to men.
- Because of its licorice and anise flavor, people mistakenly refer to fennel as anise, or look for anise seed when shopping.
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