Green, brown, & bitter: The instant advantages of including fenugreek in your diet


Last Updated June 7th, 2019

What Is Fenugreek?

Fenugreek is an annual plant belonging to the Fabaceae family. Fabaceae is a family which commonly consists of legumes and beans. This plant is native to the Mediterranean region, southern Europe, and western Asia. Fenugreek seeds were used by the Egyptians to combat fever. It is mentioned in detail in Egyptian papyrus writings circa 1500 B.C. Because it’s been used in so many cultures, this herb has amassed many different monikers such as methi, bird’s foot, Greek hay, and bockshornsame, to name a few.

It is known for several health benefits such as digestion, diabetes control, treat menstrual problems, reduce cholesterol and most importantly reduce inflammation.  Fenugreek seems to be a suitable herb to relieve the symptoms of inflammation associated with any bone torsion. One of the most painful conditions it can effectively treat is snapping hip syndrome.

Fenugreek seeds can be added in salads, cookies, and sauces and consumed to obtain the benefits and relieve the symptoms of inflammation.  Studies have also found that fenugreek is beneficial in healing broken bones faster due to its antioxidant effects. The leaves of it are used in multiple cuisines and the seeds are an avid substitute for maple syrup. The plant grows up to 1 or 2 feet with long tender stems that bear tripartite (consisting of three parts) leaves.

Fenugreek: The nutritional details

The seeds are yellowish brown and stony in nature. They are available as a spice (in whole or powdered form), supplement (pill or liquid form), tea, and skin cream. One tablespoon of fenugreek contains the following nutrients:

  • Fiber: 3 grams.
  • Protein: 3 grams.
  • Carbs: 6 grams.
  • Fat: 1 gram.
  • Iron: 20% of your daily requirements.
  • Manganese: 7% of your daily requirements.
  • Magnesium: 5% of your daily requirements

Health Benefits Of Fenugreek

Fenugreek is one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants that nurture varied health benefits.  They are as follows,

  • Aids in digestive function: Fenugreek contains non-starchy polysaccharides that may help improve digestion. It also contains high fiber content which can help relieve constipation. The fiber content in fenugreek also helps maintain healthy bowel movements.
  • Helps control diabetes: The intake of fenugreek along with food helps lower blood sugar levels in people diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.
  • Promotes lactation: For many years, Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) has supported the use of fenugreek to build a healthy milk flow for lactating mothers. The substance diosgenin present in fenugreek helps promote the amount of milk in the breast. The milk produced contains calcium and magnesium which are essential to maintaining infant health.
  • Helps treat menstrual problems: It helps to ease menstruation process by acting as an emenagogue (a substance that stimulates or increases menstrual flow). It assists in obstructed menses and provides relief from symptoms related to menstruation. It also helps reduce the symptoms associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), by reducing the size of the ovarian cysts and regulating the menstrual cycle. It also aids in other uterine troubles like menstrual cramps, hot flushes, and period distress.
  • Reduces cholesterol level: The high content of fiber in fenugreek helps eliminate excess cholesterol in blood vessels and arteries. Studies have proved that the intake of fenugreek helps lower the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. As a result, it prevents the formation of a clot in vessels, chances of heart attacks, atherosclerosis (a disease of the arteries characterized by the deposition of fatty material on their inner walls), and strokes.

Maintains gastrointestinal health: Due to the presence of antioxidant properties, it fights against free radicals and helps treat inflammation, wounds, and gastrointestinal problems.

  • Encourages a healthy libido: The nurturing aspect of fenugreek makes it a go-to food to maintain reproductive health. Several studies have shown that it has made a positive impact on self-reported strength, energy, and well-being, as well as sexual arousal and stamina. It also helps increase sperm count in men diagnosed with a low concentration of sperm. Some men take up to fenugreek to treat hernia and erectile dysfunction.
  • Aids in weight loss: The high fiber content in fenugreek increases the feeling of fullness and enhances weight loss. Early research shows that an extract of fenugreek can reduce daily fat intake in overweight men when taken by mouth at a dose of 392 mg three times daily for 2-6 weeks.
  • Increases exercise performance: Though the results are controversial, it has been proved by many studies, that fenugreek helps decrease body fat and increase testosterone levels. However, there isn’t much effect on muscle mass and strength.
  • Treats fever and sore throat: The presence of mucilage initiates a soothing effect on a sore throat and regulates the temperature of the body.
  • Prevents hair loss and dandruff: They are rich in folic acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C, and also contain several minerals such as potassium, calcium, and iron. Apart from this, it also contains high protein and nicotinic acid, which contribute to preventing hair fall and dandruff. The presence of these substances helps treat a variety of scalp issues like dryness of hair, baldness, and hair thinning. It contains large amounts of lecithin which makes it is a natural hair conditioner and contributes to keeping hair hydrated and also strengthens the roots or hair follicles.
  • Induces and eases childbirth: They are supportive in stimulating labor and uterine compressions; in addition, it also reduces labor pain.
  • Used to treat kidney ailments.
  • Help treat vitamin deficiency disease called beriberi.

Fenugreek for skin health

Fenugreek is known as one of the Asian beauty secrets to attaining beautiful skin. It contains germ killing and anti-inflammatory properties. Below mentioned are the uses of fenugreek to enhance skin health:

  • Reduces inflammation and pain caused by boils, eczema, abscesses, muscle pain, burns, and gout.
  • A paste of honey and fenugreek helps treat acne and cystic acne too. It is also used to remove blackheads and wrinkles. It eliminates harmful skin toxins that are present beneath the epidermis and helps to tone the outer skin layer.
  • Acts as an anti-aging treatment by counteracting with free radicals and repairing damaged skin cells. It also helps in skin cell regeneration and reduces signs and symptoms associated with aging, such as wrinkles, facial lines, age spots, and
  • It naturally exfoliates skin and gives it a cleaner appearance.

Traditional uses of fenugreek

  • It possesses laxative, demulcent, expectorant, nutritive and orexigenic (increases appetite and may induce hyperphagia) properties.
  • Topically it is used as a vulnerary (medicine to heal wounds) and emollient (the tendency to soften skin).
  • It is used for treating indigestion, anorexia (lack or loss of appetite), and gastritis.
  • It is used to treat convalescence (recuperation or rehabilitation).
  • It is typically used for myalgia (muscle pain), furunculosis (repeated occurrence of boils on the skin), gout (a condition caused when there is a defective metabolism of uric acid especially in smaller bones of the feet), lymphadenitis (inflammation of the lymph nodes), leg ulcers and wounds.
  • It is used internally to treat upper respiratory catarrh (inflammation of the mucous membrane).
  • In Chinese medicine, it is used as a treatment for impotence, cold pain in the lower abdomen and hernia.
  • In Indian medicine, it is a cure for vomiting, colitis, and
  • As a poultice, it is useful for treating abscesses and carbuncles (a red, swollen, and painful cluster of boils that are connected to each other under the skin).
  • It is helpful for treating hormonal disorders, encourage labor and manage reproductive disorders.
  • Fenugreek is a cure for digestive problems such as stomach bloating, pain, cramps, diarrhea, intestinal gas and also restores digestion.
  • It relieves anemia, chronic cough, treats skin irritations, sore throat, terrible breath, mouth ulcers, and respiratory infections.

Best Ways To Include Fenugreek In Your Diet

Add a dash of ground seeds to the breading for fried foods. This makes your fried delights a little bit healthy and also gives it a crunchy texture.

  • Sprinkle a few seeds in a vegetable casserole and add a pinch of ground fenugreek to cookie recipes.
  • Add a pinch or two to mayonnaise to give it a mustard-like bite. This could also be done to your dips to give it a health outcome. Mix roasted ground seeds with dried, ground chilies and other spices and use as a dipping sauce for bread.
  • Add roasted and coarsely chopped seeds to salads as it will add an interesting crunchiness. Other than this, the addition of fenugreek in salads is sure to make the delight even more weight loss-friendly.
  • Soaked and ground seeds when applied to hair impart shines and consistency.
  • Soaked and ground seeds along with lemon juice help treat dandruff.

Fenugreek: Interaction With Drugs

  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interact with fenugreek: The intake of fenugreek might decrease blood sugar. Similarly, diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking fenugreek along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low.
  • Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with fenugreek: Care should be taken not to combine fenugreek along with medications that also slow clotting as it might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Side Effects Of Taking Fenugreek

  • Though it helps to induce labor and childbirth, its consumption can cause miscarriage.
  • When consumed during pregnancy it may cause malformations in the baby, as well as contractions.
  • The intake of fenugreek tea is highly banned for children as it is linked to loss of consciousness. It also produces an unusual body odor which is often confused with maple syrup urine disease.
  • Care should be taken by people those who are allergic to other plants belonging to the Fabaceae family, including soybeans, peanuts, and green peas.
  • It should be avoided by people diagnosed with hypoglycemia (low levels of blood sugar).
  • Excessive use of fenugreek is not advisable.

How To Add Fenugreek To Your Diet?

  • It can be used in cuisines for preparing pickles and spice mixes.
  • The leaves and sprouted seeds are added to salads.
  • It is used to prepare a Turkish delicacy Cemen.
  • The essential oil of fenugreek is used to add flavor to vanilla composition, and licorice (a sweet, chewy, aromatic black substance made by evaporation from the juice of a root and used as a sweet and in medicine).
  • Can be used as a substitute for maple syrup.
  • Roasted fenugreek is a great substitute for coffee.

Fenugreek A Versatile Plant, Seed, And Spice

Fenugreek is a versatile herb and seed that has been used for a very long time across the Middle East and South Asia. It has claimed to be blessed with health benefits and has been prominently used in herbal medicine or Ayurveda.

In addition to providing health benefits, it also helps in enhancing flavor to your food. Its leaves and seeds are long being used as a vegetable, legume, and spice in various cuisines around the world. It is loaded with nutrients and is a first aid medication that can help reduce stomach ache, bloating, and menstrual cramps. It is, without doubt, a dietary component with therapeutic potential.

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