Fenugreek is an herb native to the Mediterranean region, where it has earned a reputation as a functional food. It is a common ingredient in Indian cuisine and has long been used to treat many health problems, particularly high blood sugar and low breastmilk supply in nursing mothers.
Read on to learn about fenugreek’s nutritional profile and impressive benefits. (h/t to Healthline.com)
The amazing nutritional profile of fenugreek
Fenugreek is often included in ground spice blends as a flavoring agent. It’s also sold as a supplement, typically in capsule form.
Fenugreek seeds, which have a sweet, nutty flavor reminiscent of maple syrup, have been traditionally used for both culinary and medicinal purposes as well.
One tablespoon of fenugreek seeds contains 35 calories and the following nutrients:
- Carbohydrates – 6.4 grams (g)
- Protein – 2.5 g
- Fiber – 2.7 g
- Potassium – 84.7 milligrams (mg)
- Phosphorus – 32.6 mg
- Calcium – 19.4 mg
- Iron – 3.7 mg
- Magnesium – 21 mg
Fenugreek leaves and seeds also contain trace amounts of other key nutrients, including manganese, vitamin A and selenium.
Top fenugreek benefits
Vitamins and minerals aren’t the only reason you should try fenugreek. Here are some of the impressive health benefits associated with fenugreek:
- Boosts breastmilk production – Fenugreek seed tea and supplements are common folk remedies for stimulating breastmilk production, possibly because of the estrogen-like actions of certain substances in fenugreek. Estrogen is one of the hormones indirectly involved in lactation. One study showed that new mothers who drank fenugreek seed tea had increased breastmilk production, which helped babies gain more weight.
- Increases libido – Fenugreek is thought to increase libido and boost testosterone levels in men. One study by Australian researchers showed that male participants who took 600 mg of fenugreek extract every day for six weeks reported increased strength and improved sexual function.
- Helps control blood sugar levels – Several studies have suggested that fenugreek can help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, a condition marked by high blood sugar levels. For instance, a study by Indian researchers showed that people with Type 1 diabetes who took 50 g of fenugreek seed powder at lunch and dinner for 10 days had better blood sugar levels.
- Curbs appetite – Fenugreek leaves and seeds are rich in insoluble fiber, which promotes regular bowel movement. Insoluble fiber also helps reduce your appetite, thereby staving off hunger pangs and helping control your weight.
- Helps lower cholesterol – Fenugreek also positively affects your cholesterol levels. According to a recent review, supplementing with fenugreek helps lower total and “bad” cholesterol while increasing levels of “good” cholesterol. Good cholesterol helps get rid of bad cholesterol, which can clog your arteries.
- Fights inflammation – Studies in rats and mice have shown that fenugreek has anti-inflammatory effects, possibly due to the herb’s potent antioxidants.
Recipe for stir-fried fenugreek with potatoes
This recipe is ideal for anyone who wants to give delicious fenugreek leaves a go. It’s incredibly simple and you can whip it up in minutes for an easy side dish.
- 1 green chili
- 1 non-GMO potato, diced
- 1/2 bunch fenugreek leaves
- 1/2 small tomato, diced
- 1/4 medium-sized onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Curry leaves
- Salt, to taste
- Rinse fenugreek leaves in a bowl of water to remove dirt. Repeat until clean. Drain and discard the water.
- Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat.
- Add onions and curry leaves. Saute until onions are soft and translucent.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add turmeric powder, potatoes and tomatoes. Season to taste with salt. Mix to coat the potatoes and tomatoes with turmeric. Cook for 3 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
- Add the green chili and fenugreek leaves. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Serve hot with a bowl of rice.
Fenugreek is a versatile, nutritious herb with lots of health benefits to offer. For optimal health, add fenugreek to your salads, sauces or soups. You can also soak fenugreek seeds overnight and eat them raw the next day.