Fennel is an herbal plant that looks like celery (both vegetables are member of the parsley plant family) with a fat bulb, fennel has its own distinctive flavor that is an asset to a variety of dishes. If you like the taste of licorice you will also like fennel. The sweet, licoricelike flavor of fennel is similar to that of anise; in fact, although it is unrelated to this herb fennel is sometimes called anise. The licorice flavor of fennel goes especially well with fish. All parts of the fennel plants are edible, and it can be prepared and served in many ways; raw in salads or braised, steamed, bakes, or sautéed as side dish. Stuffed and baked fennel bulbs are a flavorful vegetarian entrée; chopped leaves make a colorful and nutritious garnish for tomato soup and other vegetable dishes.
Fennel seeds: Fennel fruits are commonly called as seeds, they are so tiny about 4-8cm long, thin and slightly curved withcolor that varies from brown to light green. Fennel seeds are the ones commonly used in healing. The best way to prepare fennel beverages is as a tea made from the dried seeds that are at least one year old. Seeds are readily available on the spice shelf in supermarkets.
Preparing Fennel Tea: Pour 2 cup of boiling water over 2-4 teaspoons of slightly crushed fennel seeds, cover, steep for 5 minutes, and strain. For extra flavor, add lemon juice or honey to your fennel tea.Drink up to 2 cups a day.To get the best benefits of fennel tea, store dried fennel seeds in an airtight container and keep in a cool, dry place.
- Fennel is much more nutritious than celery, a 1-cup serving fulfills one-third of the RDA of vitamins A and C; (the leaves are the best source of these vitamins). The vitamin C from the bulb of the plant is antibacterial and very useful to the immune system.
- One cup of chopped fennel also provided 15% or more of the RDA’s of iron and calcium, as well as potassium and other minerals. It is also a very good source of folic acid and phosphorous.
- High in fiber and low in calories. The fennel bulb is an important source of fibers which help reduce the cholesterol level. A 1- cup serving has only 25 calories.
- Fennel seeds tea is said to alleviate bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, intestinal worms and other intestinal problems. This is because fennel seeds help maintain the tone of the stomach muscles and fight infection in the gastrointestinal tract as fennel contain essential oil that have disinfectant and anti bacterial properties.
- Traditional herbalists have long used tea made from fennel to prevent infant colic.
- Ayurvedic physicians have long recommended fennel seeds to aid digestion and prevent bad breath.
- Hippocrates recommends fennel tea to stimulate milk production in nursing mothers.
- Fennel tea stimulates the effects of estrogen and has traditionally been used to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, and low libido. Fennel tea also relaxes smooth muscles in the uterus, thus relieving menstrual cramps.
- Fennel seeds, particularly in powdered form, act as laxative. The roughage helps clearance of bowels whereas the stimulating effect helps maintain the proper peristaltic motion of the intestines, thereby helping proper excretion.
- Fennel tea is also used treat kidney stones.
- Fennel seeds contain a concentrated amount of essential oil that has been shown to relieve muscle spasms.
- Fennelhelps protect eyes from disorders related to aging like macular degeneration due to the presence of antioxidants (vitamin-C, which very beneficial for rejuvenation of tissues and prevention of aging), detoxifiers and stimulants etc. in it.
- Fennel tea can help relieve conjunctivitis and sore eyes. After the tea cools, soak a cotton pad in it and place it over the eyelids for ten minutes.
- Fennel because of its iron content is helpful in treatment of anemia.
- Fennel is useful in respiratory disorders such congestion, bronchitis.
- Fennel helps eliminate the common cold and reduce the bouts of cough due to its expectorant nature. The steam resulting from the boiling of the fennel leaves in water alleviates asthma and bronchitis.
- Modern herbalists also advocate fennel tea as a diet aid to treat obesity.
- The consumption in excessive quantities of fennel is not recommended because it can lead to muscular convulsions and even hallucinations.
- Fennel seeds, leaves and roots are edible, but the fat extracted from the fennel seeds is toxic even in small quantities – leading to skin rashes, breathing problems and nausea.
- It is recommended that pregnant women should use fennel tea in moderation because inlarge quantities fennel is a uterine stimulant.