If you haven’t tried fennel, I hope this article is going to send you out to find some. It’s an ingredient my family has used all my life in our traditional meals and you’re going to love it.
The ancient Greeks valued the medicinal and culinary benefits of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare).
Originally growing wild in the Mediterranean Basin, fennel is now widely cultivated around the world. It remains a popular ingredient in the regional cuisine of Italy and Greece. It resembles large scallions (green onions) in appearance with a crisp texture and a mild sweetness.
The dried seeds from the flowers of the fennel smell lightly of licorice. The entire plant (bulb, leaves, seeds, and stalk) is edible and delicious.
Packed with Flavor and Nutrition
Related to carrots, parsley, and dill, nutritional value is just one of the many benefits of fennel. It’s a nutrient-dense food that’s packed with vitamin C, fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, several B vitamins, and so much more while containing less than 30 calories per cup.Related to carrots, parsley, and dill, nutritional value is one of the many benefits of fennel.Click To Tweet
Fennel ranks very low on the glycemic index, making it a great choice for diabetics or anyone striving to maintain a low sugar lifestyle. It’s also naturally cholesterol free.
There’s so much more to this mild-mannered veggie!
5 Ways Fennel Benefits Your Health!
1. Preserving Bone Health: The incredible nutrients found in fennel help keep your bones structurally sound and strong. It contains the many nutritional building blocks for bone health in the right quantities to make the best impact long-term.
2. Boost Overall Immunity: If you’re looking to improve your chance of fighting sickness, your body is going to get a lot of help from fennel. It’s a great source of selenium, which has been proven to help detoxify the body, stimulate liver enzymatic function, raise production of killer T-cells, and lower body-wide inflammation.
3. Lowering Blood Pressure: Calcium, potassium, magnesium, and dietary nitrates have all been scientifically proven to have a positive impact on blood pressure. Fennel is a good source of all three. Experts estimate that 98% of American adults aren’t getting the amount of potassium they need. It’s also a natural source of estrogen. Women post-menopause have an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. One of the reasons is loss of hormone production.
4. Improved Metabolism: The choline and B vitamin content of fennel help to regulate your sleep cycle, boost brain cognition, lower inflammation, and regulate energy more efficiently. The fiber keeps your gastrointestinal tract in peak condition which means you’re eliminating toxins instead of having them ferment in your gut. A healthy gut is the key to a healthy self.
A healthy gut is the key to a healthy self.Click To Tweet
5. Better Heart Health: The outstanding fiber content of this veggie coupled with the potassium it provides make it a tag team against LDL “bad” cholesterol in your blood. The B vitamins are another great benefit of fennel because they help to lower homocysteine levels. Several studies have linked higher homocysteine levels to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from a heart event.
A word of caution! As with every supplement or new superfood you introduce to your diet, if you have (or suspect you have) an existing medical condition, talk to your doctor about possible interactions. Those who have existing kidney problems must control their intake of calcium and excess potassium has been shown to sometimes interfere with beta blocking drugs.
How to Include Fennel in Your Diet
Fennel, much like onions and garlic, are incredible versatile! You can add them to existing recipes such as soups, stews, or casseroles. They’re delicious sautéed with other vegetables as a side dish or roasted with root vegetables. It can be roughly chopped and added to light salads for a powerful nutrient boost.
Here’s one of my favorite ways to prepare the benefits of fennel in a way that any picky eater will enjoy (and ask for seconds). I like Giada De Laurentiis’ version of a traditional favorite!
Roasted Fennel and Parmesan (Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 fennel bulbs, cut into 1/3-inch thick slices (horizontal)
- 1/3 cup freshly shredded parmesan
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees (Fahrenheit).
- Lightly oil 13x9x2 glass baking dish.
- Arrange fennel in dish, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parmesan.
- Drizzle with oil.
- Bake until fennel is fork-tender and top is golden brown (approximately 45 minutes).
It may not be available in every region but keep an eye out. If you can’t find it locally, consider growing some yourself. They’re sturdy and easy to cultivate! I think once you try this ancient vegetable, you’re going to love the flavor, the texture, and the incredible health benefits of fennel.