Fennel, botanically known as Foeniculum vulgare is a flowering plant that belongs to the celery family Umbelliferae or Apiaceae. This vegetable is closely related to coriander, carrots, parsley and dill. Foeniculum vulgare is a perennial herb that has a characteristics feathery leaves and yellow flowers with a Mediterranean origin. Fennel possess strong anti-oxidizing, anti-bactericidal, anti-inflammatory,carminative, anti-fungal, flavouring, anti-platelet, anti-thrombotic, anti-cancerous and therapeutic properties. Fennel can be used as food flavouring as well as acts as a preservative.
It is such a super aromatic and flavourful herb with a swollen, bulb-like stem base, which is consumed as a vegetable.
This plant is greenish and erect in appearance with a hollow stem and the tendency to grow up to 2.5 m heights in size. The leaves can grow up to 40 cm long and the flowers are up to 5–15 cm wide.
Fennel is a bit sweet in taste and refreshingly crunchy. The bulb is white or pale green in appearance and the stalks are composed of feathery green leaves where the flower grows and produces fennel seeds. Foeniculum vulgare has become a popular vegetable in Asia, Europe, Australia, southern Canada and the United States of America. Both fennel's seeds, leaves, bulb and stalk can be eaten. The inflated leaf base of fennel can be consumed as a raw or cooked vegetable.
Do You Know The Right Method of Choosing and Preserving Fennel?
1). Ideally, freshly collected fennel should be stored in the refrigerator for at least 3 days but it is preferable to eat your fennel same day of purchase as it usually loses its aroma if left longer. However, if you cannot consume your fennel immediately, it is highly recommended to wash and store the fennel in the freezer to avoid spoilage. The dried fennel seeds can be stored in an airtight container and consumed at least within eight months.
2). Fresh fennel can be identified by their characteristic solid and clean bulb that shows no signs of colour changes, cuts or spotting. The bulbs should remain pale green and white in colour while the leaves and stalks should be green in colour. The stalks should remain upright and firmly clustered and attached around the bulb. Fresh quality fennel are characterised by a distinguished aromatic fragrance that is quite captivating and refreshing.
Medicinal Benefits of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
1) Relieves Menstrual Pain and Cramps
The presence of antispasmodic, anti-oxidizing and anti-inflammatory properties in fennel makes it able to relax the body muscles. Muscle relaxation process helps to minimize and alleviate menstrual pain and cramps in women suffering from dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation.
The carminative nature of fennel makes it capable of calming both babies and adults suffering from flatulence, bloating, colitis, indigestion and nausea. Mothers of babies suffering from these ailments can constantly drink fennel tea to help sooth and calm the digestive tract of the babies.
3) Fights Against Aging
Fennel is a rich source of vitamins B and C that are very vital for maintaining healthy and glowing skin. Fennel helps in synthesizing collagen, which helps to make the skin glow as well as stay firm.
Fennel contains nutrients such as Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and dietary fiber that helps to fight against cancer. Also the presence of anethole in fennel, which is an anti-inflammatory nutrient helps to impede breast cancer cells from growing.
5) Fights Obesity
Regular intake of fennel helps to quench appetite and regulate overeating, thereby maintaining healthy body weight. Fennel boosts the body metabolism by reducing water retention and breaking down fat that causes excess weight gain.
The presence of phytonutrients in fennel makes it able to exhibit health promoting impact on the human body.
It consists of phytonutrients such as glycosides, flavonoids and quercitin. Fennel also contains Vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant that helps to support the human immune system as well as able to neutralize any free radicals in the human body. Fennel also contains nutrients such as Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and dietary fiber. These nutrients help in fighting against Cardiovascular diseases, reduces increased cholesterol levels as well as expels carcinogenic toxins from the colon. The presence of potassium in fennel helps to reduce high blood pressure that poses a high risk for heart attack and stroke.
Other Benefits of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
1) Alcohol production
Florence fennel bulbs, according to researchers is one of the three major herbs used for preparing absinthe (medicinal elixir), which originated from Switzerland as an alcoholic drink before spreading to France and other countries.
Fennel serves as a spice and the seeds, bulb and foliage are mainly used for different cuisines. Asians either coat fennel seeds with sugar or without, which they use for preparing "meal afters" called mukhwas. The dried fennel seeds possess a strong aromatic smell, which is why it is used as a food spice. The leaves are also flavoured and the bulbs are crispy, which can be eaten as a raw vegetable, used for stew preparation, cooked in risotto, sautéed, preparation of pickled eggplants, marinated, salads, braised, omelette preparation, sauces or soup preparation. Fennel seeds can also be used for preparing desserts. Countries like, America, England, India, Pakistan, Iran, Middle East, Italy, Syria, Spain, China, and Germany often use fennel and its seed for their food preparations.
3) Toothpaste Preparation
Some toothpaste manufacturers use fennel as a natural flavouring for toothpastes.
4) Herbal Tea Preparation
Fennel can be used for preparing herbal tea and the flavour it renders to herbal tea is quite aromatic.
5) Powder Preparation
Due to fennel's aromatic nature, manufacturers use its fruit to produce liquorice powder.
Fennel belongs to the categories of plants that are capable of driving insects such as fleas away.
How to Cook With Fennel
Fennel's stalks, base and leaves are all normally used for cooking food. The best method of using them for food preparation is by cutting away the stalks from the bulb mainly at the point they are conjoined. Afterwards, remove the base and then wash thoroughly with cold water and salt before cutting it up into preferred shapes and sizes. After cutting up the fennel as desired, it can then be used for preparing dishes of choice.
Having mentioned all the amazing benefits of fennel, everyone is hereby encouraged to regularly include this vegetable in his/her diet for a healthier body.
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your health care provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
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