Fennel is an underrated vegetable that should be a regular addition to every kitchen. Related to other stalk vegetables like carrots and celery, fennel has a slightly sweet, mild licorice flavor and is a great addition in soups and salads and pairs well with fish, pork, and poultry.
1. The entire plant is edible. Yep, you can eat the whole thing–seeds, bulb, stalk, and leaves. The crunchy bulb is great for salads, while the stalks and fronds are perfect for making soups and stock. The fronds can also be treated like an herb and added to any dish for an extra pop of flavor. Try using the seeds to make this wine-baked halibut with mustard-fennel butter.
2. Fennel = fiber. Fennel is very high in fiber, with 7 grams per bulb (28% of our daily recommended intake). Getting enough dietary fiber not only aids digestive health, it can lower cholesterol, help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and even lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels down.
Try this apple, fennel, and walnut salad recipe
3. It promotes allover health. Fennel has 27% of the recommended daily intake of potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. Fennel is also high in vitamins, C, A, B6, and K, as well as as iron, calcium, selenium, and magnesium. That means it helps support bone and heart health, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and can even help prevent cancer.
4. It’s known for medicinal properties. Fennel is used medicinally in many cultures. It has traditionally been used for increasing the flow of breast milk, to promote menstruation, to ease childbirth, and to increase libido. Fennel tea is often used for detoxing and aiding digestion, as well as calming bloating, upset stomach, heartburn, or soothing a sore throat.
5. It calms colic. One study of 125 colicky infants found that fennel eliminated or significantly improved colic in 65% of those treated with a fennel seed oil emulsion. Fennel tinctures, tea, and essential oil mixed in with a carrier oil and applied to the stomach or chest are also common natural colic treatments.