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Native to North Africa, India, and the Mediterranean, Fenugreek is legume that has been used in alternative medicine for several decades. It was mostly used as a spice in the ancient world. But now, it has gained so much popularity as an herbal supplement in the Western world.
Studies have it that this herb has been used as a treatment for fever and other illnesses among the ancient Egyptians. In fact, studies revealed that Fenugreek seeds were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
What Exactly Is Fenugreek?
Fenugreek is an annual plant that often comes with three leaves, which could either be yellow or green. In India, the leaves are often consumed as vegetables. The seeds of Fenugreek are brownish and hard seeds that often come in a wide variety of shapes. Many cuisines have it as a common ingredient in either whole, powder or dried forms.
The seeds are very bitter in taste and have a little bit spicy smell. Its taste is similar to that of maple syrup, and often included as one of the ingredients of curry spices.
The history of Fenugreek was traced back to ancient Egypt around 1500 B.C. But archeologists have found cooked Fenugreek seeds from around 400 B.C on the territory of Iraq. Over the years, different cultures have used it for different purposes, including as food or medication.
For instance, Egypt used it for treating physical injuries and fever, as well as for embalming. Perhaps that is the reason its seeds have been found in several tombs, including the famous Tutankhamun. Egypt also used it in reducing childbirth pains and also increase milk supply during breastfeeding.
Romans and Greeks cultivated it as a fodder crop. In Traditional Chinese medicine, it was used as medicinal herbs for various purposes, including abdominal pain. Studies also have it that is was grown in the imperial gardens of the Roman Emperor Charlemagne.
This may be the reasons there are still have some small plantation of the plant in France.
The ancient cultures of China, India, and Egypt have a good understanding of the nutritional contents and benefits of this herb. But below are the most significant nutritional facts about Fenugreek based on modern studies. All of the figures are based on a serving of 100 grams.
- Iron – 33.53mg
- Magnesium – 191mg
- Fiber (dietary) – 24.6g
- Calcium – 176mg
- Protein – 23g
- Fats – 6.41g
- Vitamin A – 60 IU
Benefits of Fenugreek
Below are some of the benefits of Fenugreek.
#1: It improves digestion and cholesterol
One of the many health benefits of Fenugreek has been its ability to reduce cholesterol levels. Thanks to its high fiber content. It helps lower the risk of several health conditions, including atherosclerosis, heart attack, and strokes.
Fenugreek is also effective in improving digestion and helping with inflammation and constipation. However, when Fenugreek is consumed in excess, it can lead to diarrhea.
#2: Helps improve diabetes
Studies have confirmed that including higher doses of Fenugreek in one’s daily food intake and diet can help reduce blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. In this case, the dosage is 5 to 50 grams of Fenugreek seed two times daily. For type 1 diabetics, the recommended dosage is 50g two times every day.
It has been shown to improve insulin function, which is often the reason for the reduction in blood sugar levels. Fenugreek also helps in reducing glucose absorption and concentrations of lipid-binding protein.
#3: Improves Testosterone, libido, and sperm count in men
It is important to note that scientists at Babu Banarasi Das University and King George’s Medical University in India aver that fenugreek improved testosterone levels. Additionally, the University of Sydney in Australia discovered that in addition to the increase in testosterone levels in the body, men experienced a higher number of morning erection, and had sex more often after consuming a dose of 600mg fenugreek daily for 12 weeks.
#4: Improves breastfeeding
Drinking Fenugreek tea over a few days has been associated with increased breast milk volume in breastfeeding women. So, it is often recommended for women who find it difficult breastfeeding their babies because of too little breast milk.
#5: It reduces menstrual pain
Studies have found that Fenugreek, under certain doses, has the ability to reduce menstrual pains. When used beforehand, it can also help relieve the symptoms of dysmenorrhea.
#6: It helps reduces inflammation and pain
Because of its rich antioxidant content, Fenugreek can be effective in reducing both external and internal inflammation. Just as we already know, one of the uses of Fenugreek among ancient Egyptians is for treating pain and injuries.
#7: It promotes weight loss
One of the unbelievable benefits of Fenugreek is its influence on weight loss. Research has revealed that consumption of Fenugreek can increase the feeling of fullness and reduce hunger. So, when looking to shed some pounds, adding Fenugreek to your diet will surely be a smart move.
What Are The Possible Side Effects?
The truth is that there could be some side effects that come with excessive consumption of Fenugreek. Some of them include headaches, stomach upset, bloating, diarrhea, smelling urine.
For healthy people, consuming Fenugreek seems safe, but if you have any health conditions, it’s advisable you speak with your doctor before adding Fenugreek to your diet. Some people are allergic to Fenugreek while some diabetic patients may experience excessively low blood sugar when they eat it.
Fenugreek should NOT be taken by pregnant women. Even though it aids milk production in breastfeeding mothers, it should not be consumed prior to childbirth.
Therefore, ensure you speak to your doctor before taking it so he can guide you on the right dose for you.