Ever wondered why our ancestors would almost automatically eat some fennel after meals? It was served at every restaurant too with the bill. But somehow this habit hasn’t survived over the years — which is a pity, as these pesky packets are loaded with goodness.

It’s time to bring them back. Why? Well, because the list of the benefits is long. Ayurveda has long considered fennel very auspicious and prized it for possessing cooling properties (they help relieve heat from the body during peak summers). This, however, has not been proven effectively.

Fennel’s most well-known benefit is that it facilitates digestion and reduces flatulence. It is an active carminative agent, helps release gas from intestines and provides relief from stomach problems like pain, restlessness, heartburn and indigestion. Plus, the volatile oils estragole, fenchone and anethole in it help kickstart digestion by promoting the production of gastric enzymes. Fennel juice is also widely used as an effective antacid.

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These seeds work as a natural diuretic. Drinking water boiled (and cooled) with fennel seeds helps flush out excess fluids from the body, detox, purge toxins and boost our metabolism — all this helps keep our weight in check. Drinking it regularly helps clear out excess uric acid in the blood stream, break down bile and also promote digestion of fats in the liver. In fact, fennel infused water works as a mild stimulant, too, and sipping it throughout the day can keep you alert and awake minus need for any caffeine.

I also put fennel seeds’ natural sweetness to good use by adding few to my morning cup of tea; this way, I do away with the need to sweeten my cuppa with sugar. Try it, you’ll like the mild sweetness it adds to tea.

It’s loaded with minerals, many of which are trace minerals and difficult to find: copper, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, manganese, iron, selenium and magnesium. In fact, the high concentration of iron and histamine in fennel makes it a good natural remedy for anaemias as it helps increase the formation of haemoglobin in the body.

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Fennel seeds are a storehouse for many vital vitamins, too: vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C as well as many B complex vitamins like thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and niacin are concentrated in them.

It’s our heart’s friend, too, as the fibre present in the seeds is known to help lower cholesterol levels, and the potassium in it helps relax our blood vessels, thus keeping our blood pressure in check. In addition, the antioxidants kaempferol and quercetin found in these seeds are known to prevent degenerative reactions in the body, and keep free radicals in check, thus offering protection from cancers, infection, ageing and degenerative neurological diseases.

Fennel seeds are a mood booster too, as they release endorphins into the blood stream and help lift our mood and relieve depression. In addition, the potassium in it boosts the cognitive abilities of the brain and contributes to our neurological health.

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They are a natural source of phyto-estrogen, a chemical that is similar to the hormone estrogen in structure. Thus, fennel juice is very useful for women suffering from menopause and pre-menstrual problems.

Of course, it busts bad breath too, so fennel is a perfect mouth freshener.

So my resolution this year is to use fennel more often in my cooking (gives a licorice-type flavour to foods ) — I have also filled up a pretty container with saunf and kept it right at the centre of our dining table. The intent is obvious: to tempt and remind everyone to chew a bit of the fresh seeds after a meal.

It’s time you did that too. Some old habits need to be reinforced for our own good. #KhabarLive

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