Fennel is a plant that is often found in Italian dishes and can be used as a vegetable or herb. Fennel is a descendent of the carrot family, related to dill, coriander and parsley, and has a strong licorice taste. The plant has a white or light green bulb with a number of overlapping stalks topped with green leaves, similar to celery. Within the leaves of the plant, flowers will grow and fennel seeds are produced. The entire plant is edible and can be used in a variety of recipes. Fennel has a variety of health benefits, aiding in the prevention and treatment of indigestion, constipation, menstrual disorders, urinary health, respiratory disorders and a variety of others.
Constipation- Fennel seeds, found at the top of the plant, have laxative properties that can be used to treat constipation. In addition, the roughage aids in the digestion process, preventing constipation.
Diarrhea- In contrast to being used a constipation treatment, fennel can be used to treat diarrhea that is caused by bacteria. Essential oils, Anetol and Cineole, have antibacterial properties that are capable of curing bacterial infections.
Anemia- Fennel contains iron and Histidine, both of which are vital to the prevention and treatment of anemia. Iron is the chief factor in hemoglobin production and Histidine stimulates hemoglobin production, making both elements critical.
Respiratory Disorders- Essential oils ,Anetol and Cineole, are natural expectorants, which will aid in the treatment of bronchitis, congestion, cough and other respiratory illness experienced throughout the year.
Menstrual Disorders- Fennel is known to be an Emenagogue, which regulates hormones with a woman’s body, causing a regulated menstrual cycle.
Urinary Health- Used as a diuretic, fennel aids in urinary health by stimulating urinary frequency. Increased urination will remove toxins from the body.
Lactation- Women that incorporate fennel into their diet will notice an increase in breastmilk production. A nursing mother that experiences decreased milk production can benefit from fennel.
Oral Health- Fennel can be found in a variety of toothpastes and mouth rinses around the world. Chewing fennel seeds after a meal will promote good breath.
Indigestion/Digestive Health- Chewing fennel seeds is to believed to aid in the digestive process, eliminating indigestion. Essential oils in fennel stimulate secretions of gastric juices and aid in the absorption of nutrients in the foods we eat.
All parts of fennel are edible, including the bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds. To prepare fennel, remove the stalks and set aside. Though the can be used, many recipes will not utilize the stalks. Peel away wilting or brown layers from the bulb, as you would do with an onion or lettuce. Slice the bulb in half and quarter, slice, chop, dice or mince according to your recipe.
Raw: Fennel, crisp and crunchy when raw, can be eaten alone or used to add flavor and texture to both mixed green salad or pasta salad.
Cooked: When cooked, fennel becomes soft and sweet, providing good flavor to dishes such as roast, chicken or soup/stew.
Vegetable Serving: Because of its versatility, fennel can be served as a vegetable through cooking methods such as baking, steaming, boiling or braising. Remember that boiling vegetables removes a significant portion of natural nutrients.