Fenugreek is not totally understood although, researchers seem to agree that this herb has many well-being properties and health benefits. It is mainly noted for improving sexual performance in men. It has been used by many cultures medicinally. The name fenugreek means ” rams horn clover.” Here Dr. Joseph Mercola, Mercola.com, reflects on what fenugreek is good for:
“Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants native to southern Europe and Asia. Nowadays, it’s also popularly grown throughout Mediterranean regions, Argentina, North Africa, France, India and the U.S. 1
Fenugreek is mentioned in detail in Egyptian papyrus writings circa 1500 B.C.2 Because it’s been used in so many cultures, this herb has amassed many different monikers such as methi, bird’s foot, Greek hay and bockshornsame,3 to name a few.
An annual plant about 2 feet tall, fenugreek is also considered a legume.4 It produces light green leaves similar to clover, small whiteflowers and long pods, each containing 10 to 20 small hard seeds. The seeds have a pungent aroma and fairly bittertaste, described as similar to burnt celery.5
While it’s also used for dying textiles,6 fenugreek’s many food uses and curative aspects indicate how versatile this plant and its derivatives can be.
The tender leaves and shoots can be added to salad greens,7 while the extract is used for marinades as well as imitation vanilla, butterscotch, rum and maple syrup flavoring.8
Ground to a fine powder, fenugreek seeds are a favorite ingredient in Indian curries, but it can also enhance any bland dish. They can even be roasted and ground to make coffee.9 After purchasing, fenugreek can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to six months.10
Health Benefits of Fenugreek
Fenugreek is a good source of polysaccharides such as saponins, hemicellulose, mucilage, tannins and pectin,11 which help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by discouraging bile salts from absorbing into the colon, while at the same time reducing the glycemic response to lower the insulin stimulation of hepatic cholesterol systems.12
The amino acid 4-hydroxyisoleucine in fenugreek seeds may also help lower the rate of glucose absorption in the intestines, which in turn lowers blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes.13 Their high fiber content also adds to digestive bulk, which helps ease constipation.
Diosgenin, another key compound found in fenugreek, has been shown to improve lactation, making it very popular among breastfeeding mothers.14 However, fenugreek can cause uterine contractions, so it’s advised that pregnant women avoid it in any form.15 Research also indicates that diosgenin may help inhibit several types of cancer, as it induces apoptosis.16
Fenugreek contains choline, which studies show may not only help slow mental aging, but also improve the thinking process.17 It’s also considered an aphrodisiac, and plenty of studies tout its ability to increase libido in men.18 Plus, it’s believed to help promote breast growth in women, although no studies have decisively confirmed this benefit yet.19
Fenugreek leaves are traditionally used to help treat indigestion and flatulence,20 while its seeds can be ground into paste and used topically to help fight infection and inflammation in wounds.
Fenugreek seeds are also rich in minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, copper, zinc, manganese and magnesium. It contains various vitamins as well, including thiamin, folate, riboflavin, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), niacin, and vitamins A and C.”
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