Treat Your Tummy : Drink Fennel Tea

Treat Your Tummy : Drink Fennel Tea

November 2012

So on my trip today to my local whole foods grocer, The Manna Grocery Store & Deli, in Tuscaloosa, I found something I have been studying recently and had been longing to try: Fennel Seeds to make Fennel Tea! The following is a brief overview of the fennel plant and its benefits to your health.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is  a plant species in the genus Foeniculum. It is a hardy, herb, with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean but has become widely naturalized in many parts of the world, especially on dry soils near the sea-coast and on riverbanks. It is a highly aromatic and flavorful herb with culinary and medicinal uses (Wikipedia).

fennel plant

The plant has a licorice-flavor, and is a member of the parsley family.  One benefit to fennel is that one cup contains almost 20 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin C. Most fennel available in American markets is grown in California. The type you’ll find, called Florence, or bulb, fennel has a bulbous base, with stalks like celery, and feathery leaves. Like celery, the entire plant is edible. The crisp and slightly sweet bulb is especially delicious served raw in salads or if braised, sautéed, roasted, or grilled, the bulb mellows and softens with cooking. When picking fennel look for bulbs that are small, white, heavy, firm, and free of  cracks, browning, or moist areas. The stalks should be crisp, with feathery, bright-green fronds. Wrapped in plastic, fennel keeps for just a few days in the refrigerator; the flavor fades as it dries out. Use fennel stalks in anything you would use celery in, such as soups and stews, or even as a “bed” for roasted chicken or meats. The fronds can be used as a garnish, or chopped and cooked in sauces, making sure to add it late into the cooking process so not to dilute the natural flavor of the plant (Discovering Fennel).

fennel bulbs

Fennel seeds, however, don’t come from bulb fennel but from common, or wild, fennel. The seeds are slightly nutty, with the expected licorice flavor, and are widely used in sausages, stews, soups, and curries. Another common use of the fennel seed is to make a delicious, and very beneficial tea (enjoying a cup as I type this!). Just a teaspoon of fennel seeds in a tea strainer, steeped for approximately 10 minutes can do a host of great benefits for the entire body, especially your tummy!

tea strainer

The list of medicinal benefits and uses of fennel and fennel tea are as follows:

  • helps to reset taste buds to reduce cravings between meals (weight management)
  • boosts digestion, facilitating nutrient absorption, and reducing fat storage in the body (weight management)
  • the essential oils and aromatic licorice flavor in fennel seeds may help improve breath
  • can help manage the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) by soothing the gastrointestinal track releiving gas and bloating
  • has been used to relieve symptoms of colic in infants
  • can help stimulare milk production in lactating moms
  • has the same effect as estrogen on the body and helps alleviate premenstrual cramps as well as menopausal symptoms helping to jump-start a shrinking libido
  • immunity support due to high concentration of Vitamin C, and Vitamin B3, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium
  • high in antibacterial agents, such as Vitamin C, which can help reduce viruses and bacteria infections
  • high in fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol, thus reducing risk of heart disease
  • high in potassium, which can help reduce blood pressure, thus reducing risk of heart attack and stroke
  • contains high levels of alpha-pinen, an organic compound found in the essential oils of the fennel plant, which can act as an expectorant for those suffering from the common cold
  • steam from boiling the leaves or drinking fennel tea has also been found to help alleviate symptoms of asthma and bronchitis
  • a organic compound found in the essential oil of fennel, called anethole, has also been found to reduce inflammation, making fennel good for individuals with arthritis

Fennel seeds can be purchased at your local organic, natural, or  whole food grocer or farmer’s market. Holding my cup of fennel tea in the air, here’s a *virtual toast* to your health! Cheers! Happy sipping! 🙂

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