Why fennel seeds work on weight loss, keep your heart healthy and your gut happy

Much is talked about the efficacy of seeds as they are nutrient-dense, rich in fiber and low in calories, attributes that are best suited for your sound metabolism and health. And when it comes to heart health and weight loss, use fennel seeds as an add-on for your lifestyle correction, diet and exercise, improving your nutritional profile. Dried fennel seeds are low in calories, high in fiber and packed with both macro and micro nutrients. They are rich in Vitamins C, E and K as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, selenium and iron. Of course, they come loaded with antioxidants which reduce inflammatory markers in your body, the root cause of many of our chronic illnesses.


In the Journal of Food Science (2012), researchers from Anna University, Chennai, had shown how nitrites in fennel seeds play an important role in the cardiovascular system. The study results had shown that fennel seeds “contain significantly higher amounts of nitrites when compared to other commonly used post-meal seeds.” It also showed that chewing fennel seeds enhanced the nitrite content of saliva. Nitrites dilate blood vessels of the heart, reduce stress on them, relax them and in the process improve blood flow to the heart muscles. Fennel also helps in angiogenesis or the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones. It contains fiber which is good for any metabolic syndrome. The fiber takes care of cholesterol levels in the blood, thereby reducing the risk of plaques and heart attacks. In fact, the potassium content of fennel seeds helps maintain blood pressure.


Since fennel seeds are rich in fiber and usually had after meals, they slow down digestion and help avoid sugar spikes. They also give a sense of fullness that keeps your hunger pangs at bay for longer periods. That’s why having fennel water or tea between big meals may take care of your urge to snack indiscriminately, keep your food intake in check, act as an appetite suppressant and help in weight management. The seed-soaked water also works as a diuretic and improves metabolism, something which is an asset in your weight loss journey.


Some studies on mice have found that fennel seed extract reduced blood glucose levels at a rate comparable to that of standard anti-hyperglycemic medication. But there is no study yet that proves this among humans. However, fennel’s soluble fibers may help regulate blood sugar spikes and improve blood sugar levels. Fennel seeds are rich in beta-carotene, another antioxidant that may help lower cholesterol levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes.


The digestive properties of fennel seeds are well-known, which is why they are served as a post-meal mouth freshener across India. The essential oils in the seeds stimulate the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes. The organic compounds anethole, fenchone and estragole are anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory and help in dealing with constipation, indigestion and bloating. Fennel tea is considered the best panacea for a healthy digestive tract. Several studies show that organic compounds like anethole have anti-cancer, anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties which keep stomach infections at bay.


Fennel seeds contain high levels of phytonutrients that clear sinuses, help in bronchial relaxation and consequently reduce symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and congestion.


The anethole present in fennel seeds stimulates the galactagogues (substances that promote lactation) to increase milk secretion. Many studies suggest that anethole actually mimics the function of the hormone estrogen and becomes key for managing women’s health. Fennel seeds are a good source of iron and an amino acid called histidine, which increases hemoglobin in the blood and helps boost maternal health.

And in the hot and dry days of extreme summer, just gulp a glass of fennel seed-soaked water to lower internal body heat and avoid heat strokes. These tiny seeds pack quite a punch.

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