It’s surprising how this remarkable herb – ‘Fenugreek’ has been the world’s best-kept secret for the longest time. It’s found ample use in cooking, where both the seeds as well as the leaves are eaten with relish. It is incorporated in traditional medicine where its powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, antidiabetic and antitumorigenic properties are used.
Fenugreek is bursting with nutrition. The crisp, pungent and aromatic flavours of fenugreek give any dish – from savoury fried fenugreek leaves to salad bowls sprinkled with a fistful of tender leaves and even seeds that are ground, powdered and added to spice up curries – a rich wholesome texture. Fenugreek seeds or leaves can also be blended and applied to the skin and scalp. This way it helps to rid skin of unwanted blemishes, hair of dandruff and brings vitality, lustre and health.
Whether fenugreek is eaten or applied externally, its numerous benefits make it indispensable to our health and wellbeing.
What is Fenugreek?
The word fenugreek finds its origins in the Latin language. Literally translated, the word means “Greek Hay”. This is tied to the original use of the leaves as animal feed! Its other names – “bird’s foot” and “goat’s horn” are more mysterious.
Fenugreek has been widely used in regions around Southern Europe, Northern Africa and India. And its popularity as a culinary delight and flavouring agent is growing worldwide.
Nutritional Info (Per 100g)
- Calcium – 176mg
- Calories – 320
- Copper – 1.1mg
- Dietary Fibre – 25g
- Folate – 57mcg
- Iron – 33mg
- Magnesium – 191mg
- Manganese – 1.2mg
- Niacin – 1.6mg
- Protein – 23g
- Phosphorus – 296mg
- Potassium – 770mg
- Riboflavin – 0.4mg
- Selenium – 6.3 mcg
- Thiamine – 0.3mg
- Total Carbohydrate – 58g
- Total Fat – 6.4g
- Vitamin B6 – 0.6mg
- Zinc – 2.5mg
Fenugreek and Health
Here are some benefits of eating fenugreek:
- Improves gut health: From poor liver function to dyspepsia and even major or minor gastric and intestinal issues, incorporating fenugreek into your diet can help alleviate problems. Fenugreek has been used for treating a number of ailments such as Leaky Gut Syndrome, colon and stomach ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), dysentery, and diarrhea.
- Reduces inflammation: Fenugreek has been known to reduce inflammation – both external and internal inflammation. For this reason, and for its benefits to the gut, it is often a part of the ulcerative colitis diet and treatment plan. The rich fibrous content feeds the gut flora and also boosts immunity.
- For diabetics: Similar to cinnamon, fenugreek helps in controlling the blood sugar levels and enhancing insulin sensitivity. This is an important property for treating both type 1 and 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that it helps in reducing blood sugar levels by up to 10%.
- Enhances brain’s cognitive function: Fenugreek can significantly reduce the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This happens when the enzyme acetylcholinesterase is inhibited, allowing for the enhanced function of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and reduction in the production of proteins that boost plaque development in the brain. Fenugreek also reduces inflammation in and around the brain.
- Resets kidney damage: Consuming fenugreek can increase the number of red blood cells that deliver oxygenated blood to the kidneys. Fenugreek also reduces stone formation and increases kidney mass. Coupled with reducing oxidative damage, fenugreek offers support for your kidneys and resets kidney damage.
- For women: Fenugreek can help relieve menstrual pain and cramping without any apparent side effects. For pregnant women, fenugreek can serve as an important nutritional supplement, boosting health and delivering vital nutrients to the foetus.
- Improves heart health: Fenugreek can lower bad cholesterol in the body, including harmful triglycerides and LDL. It can also help boost the production of good cholesterol in the body, keeping heart-health in check.
Some Ways to Include Fenugreek in Your Diet
Here are some ways you can include this magical herb in your diet and benefit from it:
- Soak a spoonful of fenugreek seeds in water overnight. In the morning, drain the water and rinse. Consume with a glassful of warm water.
- Soak fenugreek leaves in water overnight. In the morning, strain the leaves and drink the water.
- Plant fenugreek seeds in a pot. Use the fresh green leaves in your cooking and in salads.
- Use powdered fenugreek leaves in cooking. To make the powder, dry leaves in the sun. When they are dry, roast in a pan and squeeze some lemon juice. Crush the leaves into coarse powder.
- Use fenugreek paste in cooking. To make the paste, soak seeds in water for a couple of hours. Next, drain the water and rinse seeds. Artisan grind seeds using a stone and mortar. Use the freshly made paste to add flavour to your dishes.