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Every Indian household knows how great Fenugreek Seeds or Methi seeds can be, as it is a favorite in lots of curries and other Indian food dishes. What is even more interesting is that this little ingredient can act as a natural medicine with its many benefits to our health. Here, we look at Fenugreek Seeds (Methi): Benefits ,why we should be including it in our diet, any potential side effects and all the nutritional information.

What is Fenugreek

Mainly from Asia and the Middle East, Fenugreek is mostly used as a spice, herb or vegetable and is a key part of Indian cuisine and has been used medicinally in Indian tradition for a long time.

Fenugreek grows to around 2 feet and has green leaves, white flowers and small pods containing up to about 20 seeds per pod. The seeds taste best when dry roasted, but taste bitter when eaten raw.

Fenugreek & Fenugreek Seeds Benefits(Methi)

There are many claims that Fenugreek is good for our overall health, including as a laxative and a cough remedy. Here are just a few reasons that Fenugreek should be included in your diet as a natural remedy for health problems:

  1. Digestive Aid: 

    Fenugreek is a good source of fiber and packed full of antioxidants. As such, it helps the body get rid of toxins and detoxes the system which helps improve our digestion. It is often used as a way of relieving indigestion, stomach cramps, constipation and acid reflux. The Fenugreek helps line the stomach and intestine which prevents irritability. It can act as a laxative due to the NSPs (non-starch polysaccharides). It’s digestive benefits also make it a popular ingredient in weight loss supplements, which leads on to the next point …

  2. Fenugreek Seeds For Weight Loss: 

    Soaking Fenugreek seeds and consuming then first thing in the morning (on an empty stomach) helps you feel fuller for longer and this suppressed appetite can help you reach your target weight quicker. It can prevent overeating. Again, this is due to the NSPs present that makes food feel bulkier. Fenugreek is also high in fiber and helps flush out toxins from your body, aiding the weight loss process.

  3. Fights against colon cancer: 

    The fiber in Fenugreek and the way it flushes out toxins in the body also helps prevent colonic cancers. Antioxidants help the body fight against diseases.

  4. Lowers cholesterol levels: 

    According to a 1995 study by Petit, Sauvaire, Hillaire-Buys, Leconte, Baissac, Ponsin, and Ribes, Fenugreek helps to reduce LDL (or low-density lipoprotein). In other words, it helps lower blood cholesterol levels in the body and slows down the bodies absorption of cholesterol. High cholesterol is one of the main reasons people get heart disease …

  5. Healthy heart: 

    Fenugreek is great for promoting a healthy heart. Not only does it reduce blood cholesterol levels (as we mentioned above) but it is a good source of potassium. Potassium helps control our blood pressure levels and calms the heart rate down. A healthy heart means we are less likely to get heart disease or conditions such as stroke.

  6. Fenugreek Benefits for Breastfeeding: 

    Many nursing mothers know about Fenugreek because the diosgenin present in it helps increase the amount of milk produced for breastfeeding. Lactating mothers are advised to sprinkle some Fenugreek onto their cereal (or consume in other ways daily) to increase milk production and ensure their baby is getting enough nutrition. But, it is not just after you have had the baby that Fenugreek is useful. It is also said to help induce childbirth (bring on contractions). It can also reduce the amount of pain during childbirth, making labor easier.

  7. Reduces period pain: 

    Again, diosgenin, as well as isoflavones and other properties that are similar to estrogen helps reduce discomfort and cramps during the menstrual cycle. It can also help with menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and mood swings. Fenugreek helps to balance out hormones, making them a woman’s best friend during menstruation, pregnancy and the menopause when hormone levels fluctuate.

  8. Coughs and Sore Throats: 

    Fenugreek (taken with a spoonful of lemon and honey) can help as a fever remedy for colds and flu. It can also help relieve sore throats thanks to the soothing effect of mucilage around the seed.

  9. For clear skin: 

    Fenugreek is sometimes included as an ingredient in face masks and creams, as a way to treat skin problems and prevent spots, blackheads, and premature ageing. You can make your own mask by mixing the seeds into a paste (take a look online at what else you can mix it with to make natural face masks such as Aloe Vera gel) to help clear any skin complaints and result in a clear, bright complexion.

  10. Fenugreek Benefits For hair: 

    Including Fenugreek in your diet (or using it as an ingredient in a homemade hair mask) can help your hair shine, prevent or remove dandruff and help hair grow thicker and longer. The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in Fenugreek strengthen hair follicles and improves hair health.

  11. Blood sugar levels: 

    Fenugreek seeds and the amino acids it contains help to control blood sugar levels and maintain insulin production. What’s more, the natural fiber galactomannan slows down the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, meaning it is very useful for people suffering from diabetes.

  12. Anti-inflammatory: 

    Vitamin C and other antioxidants in Fenugreek help reduce inflammation. It helps soothe burns and skin conditions such as eczema as the antioxidants help protect the body.

  13. Reduces scarring: 

    Again the antioxidant properties of Fenugreek seeds help the skin to get rid of or reduce the appearance of scarring, marks on the skin or stretch marks. Vitamins such as Vitamin C help produce healthy, new, skin cells.

Fenugreek seeds are high in vitamins and minerals, as well as phytonutrients. As we’ve already mentioned, it is also a rich source of fiber. These properties help fight against many of the health issues above. So what else does Fenugreek contain and how is it nutritional?

Fenugreek Nutrition Facts:

100 grams of Fenugreek seeds contain just over 300 calories and in this, you can get over 65% of your daily intake of fiber. It should be consumed in small dosages.

The spice, also often referred to as Methi, has a high mineral count – including potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. All of these have many health benefits, for example, iron is good for red blood cell count, magnesium helps aid sleep/rest and calcium helps build strong bones and teeth.

As well as minerals, there are many essential vitamins in Fenugreek seed / methi including A, B6, C, niacin and folic acid. These are beneficial for eyesight (A), energy (B6), fighting illness (C) and pregnancy (folic acid).

Fenugreek is highly nutritional and a small amount added to food can make a big difference to your health.

Fenugreek Side Effects?

Like many natural health ingredients, a little goes a long way and overuse can have side effects. Fenugreek is recommended in the health world, but it should not be used in excess. Here are some of the possible side effects from consuming too much Fenugreek or for those who should refrain from taking it altogether …

  1. Diarrhea

    – Fenugreek seeds can help ease constipation but too much of it will cause the opposite effect.

  2. Allergic reactions

    – Some people have an allergic reaction to Fenugreek, causing symptoms that range from breathlessness and dizzy spells to rashes and blotchy skin. If you are allergic to peanuts, you may be at risk of an allergic reaction to Fenugreek which has similar properties. It is important to test a small amount for any potential side effects.

  3. Odors

    – Consuming Fenugreek can cause your body odor and urine to smell very sweet, in a sickly way. The smell is not particularly unpleasant and is a normal side effect but some people prefer to mask it with antiperspirant/deodorant or to reduce the amount of Fenugreek they consume.

  4. Early labor:

    Fenugreek contains oxytocin and can stimulate contractions in the uterine and bring on an early labor, in some cases. It is unadvisable to take Fenugreek when pregnant because of this risk of early childbirth. It is only advisable to take Fenugreek to induce full-term pregnancy labor if recommended by a healthcare professional.

  5. Hypoglycemia

    – while Fenugreek helps regulate blood sugar levels, too much can lower them drastically (especially in pregnant women) which can cause hypoglycemia. Symptoms of a hypo attack can include dizziness, seizures, and even brain damage or death, so it is important to be aware of the signs and potential side effects of too much glucose in the brain.

Children should refrain from taking Fenugreek in tea or supplement form, and only moderately as an ingredient in food. It can be too powerful and strong for young people. For the same reason, it should be used sparingly in older people.

In addition, men with asthma and breathing complaints have complained of worsened symptoms after taking Fenugreek, so caution should be exercised in these circumstances.

Pregnant women should take Fenugreek with care, as too much can have side effects (as explained above).

Also, people taking other prescription drugs need to check whether Fenugreek agrees with what medication they are already prescribed.

It is important to consult your doctor if you are in any doubt of whether you should be consuming Fenugreek seed and regarding how much. If you experience any side effects, stop taking it immediately. There are plenty of other natural ingredients that have similar properties and benefits to consuming instead.

Is Fenugreek safe?

With so many health benefits and with being packed full of vitamins and minerals, it would be foolish NOT to include it in your diet (unless you experience any side effects or allergies, of course). However, too much can be unsafe. Use small amounts daily for big effects. Fenugreek / Methi has been used in cooking and for medicinal reasons for many years and when consumed in moderation, it is safe. Be sure to know where your Fenugreek source is coming from and check ingredients, so as not to overdose without realizing. To clarify any concerns, check with your healthcare professional for advice.

Where To Buy Fenugreek Seeds: Practical Information

Available all year round, Fenugreek or Methi is available in many healthcare stores, food stores and markets as a popular spice. Indian markets or stores will surely sell Fenugreek (Methi). They can come in different forms, such as whole seeds, crushed seeds, powdered, fenugreek tea or paste. Pick Fenugreek that is natural, pure and organic, especially if ordering online when the quality can alter a lot from website to website.

Store your Fenugreek in an airtight container (preferably glass) and in a cool, dark room or cupboard. It can last for many months, but be sure to throw out very old stock as it may be infected with fungal mold. Pastes are best kept in the fridge once opened. Spices are best used fresh and bought in small quantities.

How Much Fenugreek  To take To Increase Milk Supply

If You are taking fenugreek capsules (580-610 mg) than 2-4 capsules 3 times per day, If you are taking fenugreek tea then 1 cup of tea 2-3 times per day and if you are using fenugreek powder than 1/2-1 teaspoon 3 times per day

Fenugreek  Recipes

Hugely popular in Indian-style cuisine, Fenugreek (or Methi as it is most known as in the culinary world) is bitter in its pure form and best served dry roasted or fried at a low heat to mellow the taste. It can have a sweet taste when cooked and the flavor is intensified but mellow when it is ground or fried. It is often used as a spice or accompaniment in savory dishes, especially curries. In fact, it is one of the main ingredients in Indian curry powder.

Here are some ways to include Fenugreek / Methi in your diet:

  • Use a masala powder that includes the ingredient (many do!)
  • Add the seeds to stews and casseroles
  • Use in leaf forms with other vegetables
  • Add the seeds to salads
  • Grind / mix the seeds into pastes and dips
  • Add a small sprinkle to cereal
  • Add as flavor to sauces
  • Try some Fenugreek tea
  • Fenugreek is also in some supplements

 

References

Petit, P. R., Sauvaire, Y. D., Hillaire-Buys, D. M., Leconte, O. M., Baissac, Y. G., Ponsin, G. R., & Ribes, G. R. (1995) – Steroid saponins from fenugreek seeds: extraction, purification, and pharmacological investigation on feeding behavior and plasma cholesterol.

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Rachel Argyle
Graduate in Journalism & Professional freelance Writer and Communications Consultant with over ten years experience. I write for a number of national and international magazines and newspapers including Cosmopolitan UK, Telegraph, That's Life UK and BBC Magazine. * Over 3 years experience as a Senior Multimedia Journalist for Trinity Mirror UK, covering front page, exclusive stories, features and interviews, with accurate copy and to tight deadline