Benefits of Fenugreek
Fenugreek is relatively new to hit Western markets, but it has been used for health and beauty applications in the Middle East and Near East for centuries. Ancient Egyptian papyrus even mentions fenugreek, suggesting that it has long enjoyed widespread use in many parts of the world.
Also known as methi, fenugreek refers to seeds that come from a plant that grows in the hot, dry regions of India (Organic Facts, 2014). In fact, many culinary enthusiasts know fenugreek best as an addition to popular Indian dishes. In addition to its culinary applications, however, fenugreek is considered a health food that can have a positive impact on several areas of functioning.
Fenugreek Can Promote Blood Sugar Stability
As you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises in response. For most people, this increase in blood sugar causes a compensatory release of the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for telling your cells to absorb extra glucose from the bloodstream, keeping your blood sugar levels stable (American Diabetes Association, 2016). In people with diabetes, however, insulin does not work the way it should. Cells may become resistant to insulin, or the body does not release the correct amount of this hormone. This causes fluctuations in blood sugar that can have negative health consequences.
Fenugreek seed helps to slow the rate at which your body digests carbohydrates (Doctor Oz, 2014). This prevents your blood sugar from spiking rapidly. Fenugreek also naturally lowers the amount of glucose you absorb from carbohydrate-rich foods. It may also modulate the release of insulin to promote stable blood sugar. In a clinical study of people with type 1 diabetes, eating fenugreek powder reduced blood sugar and improved glucose tolerance (Sharma, Raghuram, & Rao, 1991). This makes fenugreek a healthy choice for people with diabetes or those who want to better moderate their blood sugar levels.
Fenugreek May Lower “Bad” LDL Cholesterol Levels
There are two major classes of cholesterol that affect your health: “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol tends to stick to artery walls, which can reduce blood flow and contribute to cardiovascular disease risk (American Heart Association, 2016). The other kind of cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), is considered “good” cholesterol because it actually promotes better cardiovascular health.
An array of compounds in fenugreek helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels. This includes the polysaccharides hemicellulose, tannin, pectin, saponins, and mucilage (Mercola, n.d.). These polysaccharides prevent bile salts from being absorbed into the colon, which promotes healthier cholesterol levels. Some of these polysaccharides may also bind to toxins, preventing them from affecting the body (Mercola, n.d.).
Fenugreek Is a Fiber Rich Food
Dietary fiber is a form of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest (Mayo Clinic, 2015). Even though your body does not digest fiber, it is an important nutrient for your health. Dietary fiber adds bulk to digestive material, increasing gastrointestinal regularity (Mayo Clinic, 2015). Getting enough dietary fiber may also stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent high cholesterol.
There are a whopping 25 grams of dietary fiber in 100 grams of fenugreek powder (Mercola, n.d.). That is equivalent to your entire recommended daily fiber intake. One way that people traditionally take fenugreek is by pounding it into a paste and adding sugar or olive oil. This can be an effective way to prevent constipation and improve your digestive health.
Fenugreek is a Versatile Addition to Your Meals
One of the best things about fenugreek is its versatility. This food can be purchased as whole seeds or in powdered form. This allows you to add fenugreek to a variety of your favorite foods. For example, make a favorite Indian curry with fenugreek seeds. Alternatively, sprinkle crushed fenugreek on your morning eggs, add it to salad dressing, or incorporate it into your favorite smoothie recipe. Sprinkle by sprinkle, fenugreek will help you become more healthy.
Fenugreek is a Nutritional Powerhouse
In addition to its other healthful properties, fenugreek is packed with vitamins and minerals. The seeds are an excellent source of iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and vitamin B6 (Organic Facts, 2014). Fenugreek is also protein rich, meaning that it can provide amino acids to repair damaged tissues and will prevent you from experiencing intense food cravings. Emerging research also suggests that fenugreek is a potent source of phytonutrients that may have antioxidant effects. These phytonutrients include yamogenin, diosgenin, choline, tigogenin, and trigonelline (Organic Facts, 2014).
Fenugreek May Alleviate Menstrual Symptoms
In traditional medicine, fenugreek has long been lauded for helping women who experience discomfort during their menstrual periods. More recently, scientific evidence confirms these findings. In a clinical study of 100 women, those who were given fenugreek seed powder rated significantly lower pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, headache, and loss of energy compared to those who received a placebo (Younesy et al., 2014), suggesting that the seeds may alleviate common menstrual symptoms.
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