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12 Healthy Benefits From This One Little Used Herb
More and more Americans are becoming more conscious of their health. The proper use of herbs and natural foods are not as common in America, however, as they are in most of Europe and the Far East. Fennel is one example of an herb that is widely used throughout Italy and Greece for its healthy properties.
Besides being tasty in food dishes, it also offers us some terrific medicinal benefits. This herb comes to us from the Mediterranean and has now spread to almost every part of the world. It has been used for centuries as both a tasty culinary additive but also for its medicinal purposes.
Take a look at the top 12 benefits we can get from using more fennel in our diets.
1. Respiratory problems
Fennel has long been used for helping those with problems involving the respiratory system such as bronchitis, congestion, and ongoing coughs. Fennel contains two compounds called anetol and cineole, both of which are natural expectorants. Both powdered fennel and the seeds from this plant can help to loosen up toxins in the nasal passages, as well as break up phlegm so the body can recover more quickly from respiratory issues. Find out more how to naturally quiet a cough.
Fennel is also a great source of iron and an important amino acid called histidine, which can help those with anemia. Iron is the main component of hemoglobin and histidine encourages the production of hemoglobin as well as other components that make up our body’s blood.
3. Supports immune system function
Just one cup of fennel bulb will have as much as 20 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C, which makes this a good source of this beneficial vitamin. Vitamin C is important for our immune system and it helps to repair our skin, and make collagen. Vitamin C is also a great antioxidant that protects the blood vessels from free radicals.
4. Supports healthy digestion
It’s quite common in India to chew fennel seeds after a meal in order to facilitate healthy digestion of foods as well as freshen the breath. The essential oils in fennel stimulate the secretion of gastric juices while reducing inflammation. Fennel is also known for eliminating constipation. Fennel is also a natural antacid and is used in many antacid preparations.
Ok, although no one likes to talk about it, everyone has gas at one time or another. Fennel is excellent at eliminating gas. The aspartic acid in fennel can be used by everyone, from infants to elderly persons to expel excess gas. This is a common ingredient in many medicines that are used to reduce symptoms of dyspepsia and flatulence in infants and small children.
This herb is great at curing diarrhea that is caused from a bacterial infection. The essential oil in fennel has both antibacterial and disinfectant properties. Fennel has been used by indigenous people as a cure for diarrhea for centuries.
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7. Heart healthy
This tasty herb is a great source of fiber that helps to keep healthy levels of cholesterol in the body. This means that it can remove the bad LDL cholesterol, which is a major factor in the development of heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
8. Improves blood pressure levels
Like bananas, fennel is another good source of potassium, which is essential to our body. Potassium is a vasodilator, which means it naturally relaxes the tension in the blood vessels and relieves high blood pressure. For diabetics, this can help to reduce their reliance on medication as it can help them gain more control over their insulin and glucose levels. Adding one cup of fennel bulb to your diet can help fill your body with healthy potassium and all the blood pressure lowering benefits that come with it.
9. Brain healthy
The potassium in fennel seeds and bulbs is also an electrolyte, which means that it improves the electrical circuit throughout the body. This means fennel will also help with the brain connections and improves the overall functioning of the brain. Since it’s also a vasodilator, this means that more blood and oxygen will reach your brain and improve the neural activity.
10. Helps with constipation
The seeds from fennel plants, especially when ground to a powder, can act as a powerful laxative. The fiber from the bulbs helps to clear the bowels while stimulate the movement of the intestines. Fennel is found in many of the medicines that treat diarrhea, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain and cramps, and many other intestinal problems. Read more how to naturally help constipation.
11. Appetite suppressant
A study done at the Thuringian State Institute of Agriculture in Germany, found that fennel increased the metabolism of test subjects while suppressing the appetite. This same study also showed that this herb helped to dissolve fat deposits in the blood, which allowed them to be used for energy rather than be stored in the body. It’s also a natural diuretic, which helps to remove excess water weight.
Although the raw herb itself has not been well studied for its cancer protection properties, the extract from the seed has. The findings of these studies are impressive to say the least. The seed extract stops the growth of tumors, but is also protective from some of the side effects from radiation that many people receive as cancer treatments. The extract from these seeds have even been found to prevent liver and breast cancer. Studies also show that fennel is a strong chemo preventative, which means that it fights off potential carcinogens. One study conducted at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, shows that the phytonutrient anethole, which stops inflammation, also helps stop cells from mutating into cancerous cells.