Spotlight on fennel: More than just a breathtaking bloom
There’s far more to fennel than meets the eye. Looking at the tiny, bright yellow petals, you might want to put these flowers in a glass vase on your kitchen counter, but there are a variety of other ways to use them. In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times, Italy has a history of using fennel in both cooking and medicine, particularly in mythology. Roman soldiers are believed to have eaten it to suppress their hunger and give them the courage to fight. Additionally, people in the Middle Ages used fennel as an ornament in their homes to bring them good fortune.
Now, gourmet chefs around the world have been using the licorice-flavored plant and its pollen in a multitude of recipes, from salads to sauces and stews. Moreover, recent research has revealed that fennel has a range of health benefits. If you’re wondering how to use the flower yourself, here are some facts to chew on:
Bad breath be gone
When mints, mouthwash and gum just won’t freshen your breath, MSN Health explained that fennel can facilitate saliva production to rid your mouth of bacteria. Meanwhile, the herb has an essential oil that could also help to combat germs that create an unpleasant odor. The news source recommended storing a small container of fennel seeds in your handbag to pop in your mouth after a meal. All you need is five to 10 seeds for instantly better breath.
Photo credit of fennel in bloom, fennel seeds and fennel bulb: Wikipedia
Ladies should listen up: Fennel might actually help to relieve pre-menstrual symptoms, The Telegraph reported. In a recent study, women who consumed drops derived from fennel seeds were less depressed and better able to go to work as well as interact with friends and family. One reason for this is that fennel may be able to regulate the female hormones associated with premenstrual tension, which up to 40 percent of women claim negatively affects their quality of life. According to the news source, Dr. Hassan Pazoki of Urmia University said that the benefits of fennel could be even more dramatic when combined with regular exercise.
Next time you finish an intensive workout, you might want to consider consuming fennel. MSN Health revealed that high levels of sodium and other electrolytes can help you to re-hydrate and control any muscle contractions that could lead to painful cramps. Dr. Dawn Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet, suggested to the news source mixing up a post-exercise salad of 1/2 a sliced fennel bulb, fennel, one apple and 1/4 cup pistachios tossed with vinaigrette. The apple provides energy-boosting carbohydrates, while the nuts offer essential protein for mending muscles.
Bloating is both uncomfortable and unattractive, but fortunately, you can do something about it with fennel. According to Fox news magazine, professional health coach expert Dr. Lori L. Shemek claims that fennel seeds can allow digestive tract muscles to relax so bloat-causing gas can be released. She recommends tossing the seeds onto salads at lunch or dinner, but if you need relief in the morning, try mixing them into your cereal or oatmeal.
Whether you have a sore throat or a pesky cough, fennel tea could be just the throat therapy you need. Nancy Arrowsmith, author of Essential Herbal Wisdom, explained to MSN Health that drinking a tea infused with this herb can break up the mucus that’s built up in your chest and ease coughing fits while soothing an irritated throat. If you can’t find fennel tea at your local grocer or natural foods market, the news outlet suggested making your own by
- Make your own Fennel Tea:
- steep 1 teaspoon fennel seeds in 1 cup heated water in a kettle for 15 minutes
- After straining, you can sweeten it with agave or honey