Fenugreek is an annual plant in the family Fabaceae, also known as Trigonella foenum-graecum, Greek hay seed, and bird’s foot, is an herb that is commonly found growing in the Mediterranean region of the world. While the seeds and leaves are primarily used as a culinary spice, it is also used to treat a variety of health problems as an herbal supplement in Egypt, Greece, Italy, and South Asia. .
Fenugreek has been found to contain protein, vitamin C, niacin, potassium, and diosgenin – a compound that has properties similar to estrogen. Other active constituents in fenugreek are alkaloids, lysine and L-tryptophan, as well as steroidal saponins -diosgenin, yamogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogenin.
Ways To Consume Fenugreek
Fenugreek seeds have small, roughly angular, brownish yellow seeds. The seeds have a bitter yet pleasing flavor and potent aroma and are a characteristic taste of curry powders. The pebble-like seeds are often toasted to enhance their pungent aroma and have a powerful bittersweet, somewhat acrid taste, so use them in moderation.
The dried leaves of Fenugreek are used as an herb. The taste is bitter but addictive. An added bonus is its healthful properties – today we do not use many bitter foods that help us in controlling our appetite and this is a tasteful way of adding the bitter taste to our diet.
Top 15 Health Benefits Of Fenugreek
- Reduces Cholesterol – Fenugreek contains saponins that help reduce the body’s absorption of cholesterol from fatty foods, reduce the body’s production of cholesterol, especially the harmful low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels.
- Prevents Diabetes – Fenugreek contains a rare amino acid (4HO-Ile) that has anti-diabetic properties. It enhancing insulin secretion under hyperglycemic conditions (for type 1 diabetes) and increasing insulin sensitivity (for type 2 diabetes). Also galactomannan, a natural soluble fiber, present in fenugreek slows down the rate of sugar absorption into blood.
- Protects from Cancer – Fenugreek has estrogenic effects and is a possible alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Saponins and mucilage in fenugreek bind to toxins in the food and flush them out, thus protecting the mucus membrane of the colon from cancers.
- Increases Breast Milk – Herbal tea made of fenugreek seeds contains diosgenin, works as a galactagogue, enhancing breast milk production in lactating mothers, and facilitates infant birth weight regain, in early postnatal days.
- Eases Labor Pains: Fenugreek stimulates uterine contractions, reduces labor pain, and eases child birth process.
- Ease Women’s Health Complaints: Compounds like diosgenin and isoflavones, with oestrogen-like properties, help reduce menstrual cramps associated with PMS, ease menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and mood fluctuations. Abundance of iron in fenugreek covers up the iron deficiency during adolescence (initiation of menstrual periods), pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Boosts Testosterone Levels – Significant positive effects of fenugreek on physiological aspects of male libido have been noted. It assists in maintaining healthy testosterone levels curing erectile dysfunction.
- Aids Digestion – The mucilage in fenugreek seeds is effective against heartburn or acid reflux and soothes gastrointestinal inflammation, relieves indigestion, treats constipation, digestive problems created by stomach ulcers, and coats the stomach and intestinal lining. It also detoxifies the liver.
- Helps Weight Loss -This thermogenic herb, with its natural soluble fiber, galactomannan, aids weight loss by suppressing appetite, providing quick energy, and modulating carbohydrate metabolism. It also helps flush out harmful toxins.
- For Fever and Sore Throat: Herbal tea (fenugreek, lemon and honey), is used as traditional remedy to replenish the body after a bout of fever. The mucilage in fenugreek soothes cough and sore throat.
- Hair Care: Fenugreek contains lecithin that hydrates the hair, reduces the dryness of the hair, cures dandruff, conditions the hair, and treats a variety of scalp issues which makes our hair healthy and strong.
- Skin Care: Fenugreek has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which draws out toxins accumulated underneath the epidermis and tones the outer layers of the skin and is traditionally used as a remedy for eczema, burns, abscesses, gout, skin inflammation, scars, blackheads, pimples, wrinkles, and cystic acne.
- Heart Care: Fenugreek seed contains galactomannan (a polysaccharide), that lowers the risks of a heart attack. It is also an excellent source of potassium which counters the action of sodium to help control heart rate and blood pressure.
- Pacifies Heartburn and Acidity: Due to the presence of high quantities of mucilage, consumption of fenugreek helps soothe digestive inflammation by coating the lining of our stomach and intestine, curing acid reflux or heartburn.
- Nutrient source: Fenugreek seeds are rich source of trigonelline, lysine, l-tryptophan, saponins, fibers, high content of Vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, proteins, carbohydrates and trace minerals.
Side Effects of Fenugreek
- While Fenugreek is generally considered to be safe when used moderately, there have been reports of a few minor side-effects. Nausea is one common side effect, while other people have reported gastrointestinal discomfort (diarrhea and/or gas). Also, when using this herb topically on the skin, it is important to watch out for skin irritations and rashes.
- Fenugreek use during pregnancy is not recommended, since it has the potential to induce labor. If you are pregnant and wish to take it, you should do so only after consultation with your doctor.
- If you are currently taking any oral medications, you should always use this herb at least 2 hours before or after these drugs. This is important since Fenugreek fiber has the potential to interfere with the absorption of oral medications due to its mucilaginous fiber (which gives it a moist and sticky texture).
Fenugreek is one of the oldest recorded medicinal herbs, highly esteemed by both east and west, and has been regarded as a treatment for just about every ailment known to man.