We're a generation in search of a constant quick-fix and that's why we tend to give in to the latest health fads. Superfoods, super seeds and fad-diets have taken over conventional methods of nutrition. While we are quick to embody the latest trends, we tend to forget our roots. All these superfoods and super seeds were consumed by our ancestors way before it became a trend. One such classic example of such superfood is fennel seeds. These seeds are quite common in Indian culture, often served to us after a scrumptious meal at a restaurant, also known as ‘saunf’ in Hindi. Most likely a staple in any Indian household, the seeds are considered to be an excellent after-food digestive. They have been consumed across the world for centuries to provide relief from various digestive issues and to prevent ailments.
Generally confused in appearance with jeera, fennel seeds actually belong to the parsley family. The scientific name for fennel is Foeniculum vulgare. Now that you’re acquainted with the basics of fennel seeds (saunf) let’s dive a little deeper.
Fennel seeds (saunf) are a spice, a digestive, a condiment and an additive in many foods and beverages for flavouring. Packed with nutrients and minerals, these little seeds pack in quite a punch.
Fennel seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients. They contain some essential vitamins, minerals and flavonoid antioxidants like kaempferol and quercetin. Fennel seeds are a rich source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, iron and magnesium. They are also rich in vitamins like A, B, C and E.
Wondering how these are useful? Copper is a mineral that is essential for producing red blood cells in our body while Zinc helps regulate growth and development and aid our body’s natural digestion. Other minerals like Potassium are required to control and regulate your blood pressure and heart rate. Antioxidants are vital in eliminating the toxins and free radicals present in our body. Vitamins A, B, C and E are essential for our hair, skin, nails and for our overall well being.
Because of their rich nutritional profile, fennel seeds are widely used for their medicinal and culinary benefits.
Fennel seeds are used as a preventative cure for ailments like flatulence, digestive issues among many others. The rich vitamin and mineral profile they share is beneficial in preventing and curing a number of health concerns.
Fennel seeds are also commonly used condiments in cooking across the world because of the fragrance and flavour they add to food. In India, fennel seeds are also commonly used as a condiment, in cheese spreads, and as a savoury spice. You can even have fennel seeds in the form of tea.
Fennel seeds can be used in the following ways:
Fennel seeds or saunf powder can be used for culinary purposes to provide flavor to dishes.
The most common way to consume fennel seeds is to eat them raw. They are generally eaten in their raw form after a meal to aid digestion and freshen up your breath.
Fennel seeds can also be used to make tea. Fennel tea has numerous health and metabolic benefits. It is said to be a great way to burn body fat and increase your metabolic rate, thereby promoting weight loss. Because of its high fibre content, fennel seeds boost your metabolism and improve your digestion. As a result, your body burns fat faster and more effectively which helps you lose weight. It also reduces the storage of fat in your body and increases the ability of your body to absorb more nutrients from food. In addition, it acts as a natural diuretic which means it increases the number of times you end up going to the washroom. This increased bowel movement helps your body eliminate toxins effectively. It’s important you practice this in moderation, consuming too much of the tea is not recommended. Two cups per day should suffice.
Fennel tea is relatively easy to make. All you need to do is boil 2-3 spoons of fennel seeds in 1.5 litres of water. Customize the proportions depending on the amount of fennel tea you want to consume.
Boil water in a pan. Once the water boils, add fennel seeds and let it simmer for 10 more minutes on a low flame. Turn off the flame and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes. Strain it and consume this tea through the day. You could add honey to sweeten the tea.
Fennel seeds can also be used as a mouth freshener. They are anti-microbial and because of this, they promote a healthy environment in your mouth. They improve gum health, keep your mouth clean and freshen your breath effectively getting rid of any odour from the foods you have eaten.
Fennel seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients, but did you know they have several health benefits apart from just improving your metabolism and freshening your breath?
Fennel seeds are not typically known to have any side effects. But they may cause allergies in people who are allergic to mugwort, carrot and celery. Regular consumption of fennel can make your skin sensitive to the sun so wearing sunscreen daily is advisable to keep yourself protected from sunburn. While there is no conclusive evidence to prove that fennel seeds are harmful during pregnancy, pregnant or nursing women are generally advised to steer clear of them.
Fennel seeds are beneficial for people suffering from PCOS (polycystic ovaries syndrome). Fennel seeds have an anti-hirsutism property therefore when fennel seed water is consumed daily in the morning on an empty stomach; it is said to be helpful in reducing the male hormone levels present in our bodies. People with PCOS usually have a higher level of testosterone present in their bodies and fennel seeds are said to promote balance.
If you are looking for a natural remedy to enlarge your breasts, fennel seeds might be worth a shot. Fennel tea and a breast massage using fennel seed oil are both said to be beneficial for breast enlargement. A mixture of fennel seed oil with other carrier oils like jojoba or coconut will keep your breasts soft and the oil massage will promote breast enlargement.
This story was updated in January 2019.