The health benefits of fenugreek include relief from anemia, loss of taste, fever, dandruff, stomach disorders, biliousness, respiratory disorders, mouth ulcers, sore throat, diabetes, inflammations, wounds, and insomnia. It is beneficial in lactation and helps in improving digestion, and is used in hair care. It is also shown to reduce cholesterol levels and protect heart health, while simultaneously boosting the immune system and protecting against flu and various infections.
What is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek is an annual plant that is also known as methi in many places of the world. It is native to the Middle and Near East and is widely used in the Indian subcontinent. It has small round leaves and that can be dried. There is even evidence that the ancient Egyptians understood the benefits of fenugreek since its seeds have been found in tombs, particularly of Tutankhamen.
This plant is grown in countries across the globe, but the majority is cultivated and consumed in India. Fenugreek is interesting because it can be used for three distinct purposes. The leaves can be dried and used as herbs, the seeds can be ground into a spice, and the plant matter itself can be used as a vegetable, like sprouts and microgreens. This makes it so important because there are good attributes in all of those plant parts that can boost your health!
Most of the health benefits of fenugreek are due to the presence of saponins and fibers in it. It is also used for herbal healing. Its seeds contain a gumming substance called mucilage and when mixed with water, mucilage expands and becomes a gelatinous salve for treating irritation.
Fenugreek Nutrition Facts
It contains a variety of beneficial nutrients, including iron, magnesium, manganese, and copper, as well as vitamin B6, protein, and dietary fiber. Fenugreek also contains a number of powerful phytonutrients, including choline, trigonelline, yamogenin, gitogenin, diosgenin, tigogenin, and neotigogens.
Health Benefits of Fenugreek
The health benefits are explained in greater detail below.
Good for Breastfeeding Mothers
India’s traditional Ayurvedic physicians prescribe fenugreek to nursing mothers. This benefit is attributed to the presence of diosgenin in it. This can help increase the amount of milk that is produced by the breasts, and the magnesium and vitamin content of fenugreek also help improve the milk’s quality to keep the infant healthy.
Reduces Menstrual Discomfort
Fenugreek is considered as a potent substance that eases the process of menstruation and relieves the associated symptoms. It is an emmenagogue, which means that it can open up obstructed menses to make the most feminine of processes work smoothly and comfortably.
Minimizes Symptoms of Menopause
Fenugreek contains the chemicals diosgenin and estrogenic isoflavones, which are similar to the female sex hormone, estrogen. Loss of estrogen causes menopausal symptoms. So, eating it helps reduce menopausal symptoms like mood swings, depression, cramps, and abnormal hunger pangs. It helps monitor a number of other hormones as well, keeping many other bodily processes in line as well.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Research studies show that fenugreek consumption helps reduce cholesterol level. It helps reduce the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) significantly, which can prevent various conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. It is a rich source of fiber, which scrapes excess cholesterol off of the arteries and blood vessels of the body. By reducing cholesterol content in the bloodstream, you reduce the chances of clots forming or becoming stuck in the vessels.
Reduces Cardiovascular Risks
The seeds contain 25% galactomannan. This is a type of natural soluble fiber which specifically relates to a reduction in cardiovascular diseases.
Fenugreek helps alleviate type II diabetes. According to one study, it may also help people with type I diabetes. Studies by Indian researchers revealed that fenugreek added to the diet of type I diabetes patients helped to drop urinary sugar level by 54%. Because of the presence of the natural fiber galactomannan, fenugreek slows down the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. A certain amino acid (4-hydroxyisoleucine) in fenugreek induces the production of insulin so therefore, 15-20 grams of fenugreek is recommended for controlling blood sugar on a daily basis. By slowly releasing insulin to the body rather than in massive chunks, the overall bodily function is improved, and the plunges and peaks of blood sugar cease to be an issue for diabetics.
Relieves Sore Throat
Fenugreek’s soothing mucilage helps relieve a sore throat, associated pain, and cough.
Treats Kidney Problems
Traditional Chinese medicine recommends fenugreek for patients suffering from various kidney conditions.
Fenugreek possesses anti-carcinogenic potential. The steroid diosgenin in fenugreek has been specifically linked to colon cancer prevention. Furthermore, various non-starch polysaccharides like saponins, hemicellulose, mucilage, tannin, and pectin, lower cholesterol levels and inhibit bile salts from being reabsorbed by the colon. This can bind to the toxins and protect the colon’s mucous membrane, which can reduce colorectal cancer and other conditions that can negatively affect the colon.
The natural soluble fiber galactomannan can swell in the stomach and thus suppress appetite by making you feel full.
Fenugreek is also used to treat wounds, inflammation, and gastrointestinal ailments. It helps in battling free radicals due to its antioxidant property. According to Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, it can be used for inducing labor and aiding digestion. It is also good for improving the body’s overall metabolism and health. Irritated skin conditions can even be soothed by the external application of fenugreek. Furthermore, it is used for fevers and muscle aches.
Word of Caution: The only side effect seen in people taking high doses of fenugreek is mild gastrointestinal distress. It is not recommended during pregnancy because it may lead to miscarriage due to its strong effect on the female reproductive system.
Where to buy fenugreek?
Fenugreek can be found in major health food stores, such as GNC, as well as traditional big-box stores, from Target to Walmart. Fenugreek seeds can also be purchased from herbalists, and fenugreek leaves are available in many markets around the world. If you have your own fenugreek plant, you’ll have all the seeds you need!
What are fenugreek seeds?
Fenugreek seeds are, as you might expect, the seeds from the fenugreek plant, which bears the scientific name Trigonella foenum-graecum. The seeds are primarily used as a spice and can be found sprinkled on top of many Asian dishes. These seeds can also be found in powdered form and used as a flavoring agent in curry pastes, soups, and stews and the seeds look like small yellow-to-brown kernels.
What does fenugreek do?
Fenugreek has a number of minerals, organic compounds, antioxidants, and vitamins that help regulate blood sugar, protect against heart diseases, lower cholesterol levels, optimize digestion, protect the immune system, and soothe the respiratory system. Fenugreek seeds or spice can even help you lose weight!
How much fenugreek to take?
If you are taking fenugreek for a particular reason, there can be some restriction or guidelines for the usage amount. For example, if you want to take fenugreek to increase milk production (as a lactating mother), you can take up to 5500 milligrams every day (about 2-3 standard capsules 3 times per day). However, if you are simply using fenugreek as a general health booster, much lower doses are recommended and required to feel the effects.
How much fenugreek to take for increasing milk supply during breastfeeding?
One of the main reasons that women take fenugreek is to increase their milk supply while lactating and breastfeeding. Experts recommend taking fenugreek supplements in the form of capsules if you are using the spice for this purpose. Each capsule is approximately 600 milligrams, and 2-3 should be taken at once at three different times of the day.
Is fenugreek safe?
Fenugreek is safe and is widely known as a great tonic for various parts of the body. It can help to improve digestion and heart health, while protecting hormone levels, easing menstruation issues, and protecting the body against infections. However, fenugreek can cause diarrhea, gas, and indigestion in some, particularly in those who are allergic to it.
How to eat fenugreek?
You can consume fenugreek in any number of ways. Its seeds can be eaten whole and are often used as toppings for certain dishes or soups. Fenugreek seeds can also be ground into a powdered spice form, which is another popular flavoring agent in the cuisines of some countries. Fenugreek leaves are a popular option to replace other leafy greens, and the powder can also be used to make a healthy, energizing tea.
Where to buy fenugreek tea?
Fenugreek tea can now be found on the shelves of major grocery stores and health food chains, including Walmart, Walgreens, GNC, and Target. Its seeds, powder, and leaves are all available at some of these locations, in addition to smaller-scale natural health food stores and herbalists.