The rise of alternative medicine means that many old remedies have become new again. A great example of this is the herb fenugreek. A major component of Indian spice blends, this flavorful herb has been used as a health remedy for centuries.
In India, fenugreek is called “methi.” Traditional uses for methi include helping with digestive issues, and even helping to induce birth.1 Today, fenugreek is used in cooking for its sweet, nutty flavor, but its medicinal uses are being revisited as well. Science is showing some exciting potential uses for fenugreek.
The Story of Fenugreek
Fenugreek was first grown in the Middle and Near East. Today, India uses it the most. The people of India use their beloved methi in one of three distinct forms. The first is as leaves. Dried fenugreek leaves are often used as traditional herbs. The second is the the stems and sprouts of the plant, which are commonly eaten as a vegetable. The third preparation involves the seeds. This is likely the one you’re most familiar with, culinarily speaking. Methi is often ground up and added to spice mixes.2 Part of what sets the stage for fenugreek is its wonderful nutritional profile. To give you a bit of an idea, one tablespoon of fenugreek contains:
- Fiber: 3 grams3
- Protein: 3 grams
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Iron: 20 percent of your daily recommended requirements
- Manganese: 7 percent of your daily recommended requirements
- Magnesium: 5 percent of your daily recommended requirements4
You likely won’t hit these numbers in one serving. But, as a spice, there are plenty of dishes you can put fenugreek in to reap its benefits, so try adding it to your cooking each day – just remember, it can be a powerful flavor, so a little goes a long way.
From Methi Seeds To Fenugreek Tea
Fenugreek tea is also prized for its health benefits in traditional cuisine. Fenugreek has a distinct, nutty flavor that may be different than what you expect in tea. If you want to change up the flavor, try adding lemon, aniseed, or peppermint.5 Another interesting thing about fenugreek is that it its use may go beyond your spice rack. The spice is finding new life in food product development. Fenugreek serves as a food stabilizer, adhesive, and emulsifying agent. In particular, it is finding use in various healthy bakery products.6
The Scientific Word About Fenugreek
Some of the strongest areas for fenugreek health benefits are in very specific areas which may or may not benefit your health. One of the major ones is for nursing mothers. For various reasons, women may have insufficient breast milk production. Several studies have shown that fenugreek tea may help increase milk production. In turn, the babies in these studies were able to gain more weight.7,8
Fenugreek may also have an effect on cholesterol levels.
It contains something called “saponins.” These chemical compounds may help inhibit cholesterol absorption in the intestines. The saponins in fenugreek may also help inhibit cholesterol production by the liver. Some scientists also speculate that the high fiber levels in fenugreek may play a role. Several studies have shown that fenugreek can lower cholesterol levels. So far, though, the studies have only involved people with certain health conditions. Science has yet to test fenugreek’s effect on otherwise healthy individuals.9
Fenugreek may be able to help support blood sugar levels. Its soluble fiber content can slow down the body’s absorption of carbohydrates. This, in turn, may be beneficial to blood sugar levels. One thing of particular interest is the preparations used in these studies. One study showed that fenugreek seeds soaked in water could help lower blood sugar. Another focused on baked goods made with fenugreek flour.10-12 Is one fenugreek format better than another? That’s a topic for more study. Fenugreek does have plenty of beneficial nutrients, though. This means that there is a chance it could have a positive effect in other areas in the future.
Fenugreek In Review
This wonderful herb has a lot of health potential. It’s by no means an all-purpose health herb, but it’s worth including in your diet. And when you do use it, there are a multitude of options. Enjoy fenugreek tea, or include fenugreek leaves in salads and other dishes. One thing to note: When it comes to when it comes to any sort of herbal medicine that you may have questions about, it’s probably best to consult a doctor first.
For more health news and updates, keep reading:
1.https://nccih.nih.gov/health/fenugreek#cautions, 2.https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/fenugreek.html 3.http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/189/2 4.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1658077X15301065 5.https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/fenugreek-seeds.html 6.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1658077X15301065 7.http://www.pediatricsciences.com/article/view/1050000487 8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21261516 9.http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2090006 10.http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2090006 11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19839001 12.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19857068