Native to central and south Asia (mainly India) FENUGREEK or methi is cultivated widely across the world including most parts of the US, North Africa, and the Mediterranean regions. It is an annual plant of the Fabaceae family having slightly round green leaves. Its flowers consist of seed pods that contain 10-20 small, flat, brownish, aromatic seeds, which have a somewhat bitter taste. Fenugreek is one of the oldest remedial plants. It contains many nutrients such as vitamin B6, protein, fiber, iron, and copper. Due to its high nutritional value, it is quite beneficial to human health. Here are some of the most amazing health benefits of fenugreek:
1. Boosts heart health: Fenugreek contains the natural soluble fibre galactomannan, which protects the heart from heart attack. As fenugreek reduces platelet aggregation (a condition where the blood platelets clump together), it also reduces the risk of heart stroke resulting from abnormal blood clotting. Fenugreek benefits the heart too by reducing the bad cholesterol or low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood and lowering heart problems further by preventing atherosclerosis (building up of fat and cholesterol in the arterial walls). Fenugreek seeds, being good sources of electrolyte potassium, balance the sodium level in the body and keep the heart rate controlled.
2. Lowers cholesterol levels: Studies have proven that fenugreek seeds, as mentioned above, help lower the cholesterol, especially the bad cholesterol, level in the body. Fenugreek seeds contain a flavonoid named naringenin that lowers the lipid levels in individuals with high cholesterol. Another component called steroidal saponins present in fenugreek seeds prevents both, cholesterol absorption in the intestines and cholesterol production by the liver. Besides, its high fibre content also contributes to lowering the hepatic synthesis of cholesterol. Many human trials have demonstrated that fenugreek may help lower total cholesterol in individuals with moderate atherosclerosis.
3. Helps control diabetes: People with diabetes are often asked to include fenugreek seeds in their diet because of their beneficial effects on the health. The fibre in fenugreek forms a thick and sticky gel in the intestine, which makes it harder to digest excess sugars and bad fats. Besides, fenugreek seeds contain amino acids that are found to improve secretion of insulin in the pancreas. This results in lowering of blood sugar level. Moreover, the galactomannan delays the absorption of carbohydrates and sugar in the blood. Research has shown that fenugreek seeds alleviate certain symptoms of type-1 and type-2 diabetes as well.
4. Helps in weight management: Fenugreek helps greatly in managing weight. Galactomannan gives the feeling of fullness when consumed, and thus curbs excess hunger. As it contains soluble fibres that further boost the feeling of fullness, fenugreek keeps you from overeating besides increasing the body’s metabolic rate. In one study, four groups of mice demonstrated a significant decrease in body weight after consuming fenugreek for over 22 days. Similarly, another study showed that participants who drank fenugreek tea felt less hungry compared to the other group that did not drink it. The increase of insulin absorption due to fenugreek consumption supports less storage of body fat which, in turn, promotes weight management.
5. Helps reduce inflammation inside the body: Fenugreek’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make it effective against inflammation within the body. It is often used for problems like mouth ulcers, infection of the tissues beneath the surface of the skin, tuberculosis, bronchitis, chronic coughs, boils, or kidney ailments. Fenugreek is said to break up stuck energies and cool inflammation within the body.
6. Boosts digestive system: Fenugreek is a boon for people suffering from stomach ailments and it is very effective in treating gastritis and indigestion. Being a natural digestive tonic, and because of its lubricating properties that help soothe the stomach and intestines, fenugreek also prevents constipation and digestive problems related to stomach ulcers. The fiber and pectin in fenugreek seeds are found to improve bowel movements and cure heartburn. The rich amount of fiber and antioxidants present in fenugreek make it amazing for the general health of the digestive system.
7. Improves athletic performance in men: Studies have shown that fenugreek boosts athletic performance in men. It contains the enzymes aromatase and 5α-reductase, which are found to have a positive impact on men’s hormonal profiles, strength, and body composition. Fenugreek is also known to be helpful in increasing testosterone level in men and treating many male problems such as baldness, impotence, hernia etc. A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine showed that fenugreek with creatine supplementation can be an effective means for enhancing creatine uptake while eliminating the need for excessive amounts of simple carbohydrates, which makes fenugreek one of the best foods for athletes.
8. Increases appetite: Fenugreek not only enhances the flavor of your food but is also known to improve your appetite. Studies have shown that fenugreek significantly increases food intake and the motivation to eat although it cannot prevent anorexia or the decreased motivation to eat.
9. Boosts skin health: Fenugreek can be used as a natural exfoliator, which is harmless in comparison to the artificial ones available in market that contain petroleum products and other chemicals. The natural oils present in fenugreek help in hydrating and moisturizing the skin. The leaves of fenugreek can work wonders for acne. Applying their paste to acne can prevent fresh outbreak. The potassium, carotene, and vitamin C in fenugreek seeds boost skin elasticity and overall health.
10. Boosts hair health: The nutrients present in fenugreek seeds promote hair growth and boost general hair health. Research suggests that applying the paste made from the fenugreek leaves to the scalp promotes hair growth and preserves natural color of the hair. A study conducted on people between 30 and 67 years of age showed a positive effect on their hair health after six months of treatment with fenugreek. It results in improved blood circulation around the hair follicles and also initiates communication between steroid saponins and dihydrotestosterone, a mechanism that contributes to hair growth.
11. Helps treat dandruff: Fenugreek is very effective for treating dandruff. Due to its high mucilage content, it can also be used as a conditioner to soften hair naturally. Fenugreek seeds and leaves have antibacterial and antifungal properties, so they can be used both externally and internally, against dandruff.
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