Sweet and warm with a licoricelike flavor similar to anise, fennel seeds are often used in Chinese and Indian spice blends. While there is some talk on the Internet that these seeds may help you lose weight, the evidence is thin, and you shouldn't count on fennel to make you lose those unwanted fat pounds. Consult your doctor before starting any weight-loss diet.
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It is claimed that fennel seeds aid in weight loss by reducing cravings and keeping hunger away. The seeds also purportedly have the ability to improve nutrient absorption and decrease fat storage. No studies have been done to support any of these claims, however. A 2014 review article on fennel, including fennel seed, published in BioMed Research International makes no mention of the seeds' ability to help you lose weight.
How It Might Help
Fennel seed has not been studied specifically for its ability to help you lose weight, but it is a known diuretic. The 2014 review article reports that animal studies show that fennel seeds work as well as a reference diuretic in increasing urine output and decreasing fluids in the body. If you're eating fennel seeds or drinking it as a tea and losing weight, it may be due to water loss through an increase in urination -- and not actual fat loss.
Nutritional Benefits on Weight-Loss Diet
While the seed doesn't contain any magical nutrients that are going to help you lose weight, the spice is low in calories and rich in nutrients, which makes it a good addition to any low-calorie diet plan for weight loss. One tablespoon of fennel seeds has 20 calories, 1 gram of protein, 3 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber. It's also a good source of iron and can up your intake of calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and many of the B-vitamins.
Tips for Using Fennel Seed
In addition to making a flavorful tea, you can also use the spice to add flavor with few calories to a number of different types of food. Grind fennel and add it to a quick bread or savory muffin recipe. Or add the whole fennel seed to a yeast bread for texture and flavor. You can also toast fennel seeds in a pan over low heat to enhance the taste, then add them to grains, like quinoa or brown rice.