Fenugreek seeds nutrition facts
Strongly aromatic and flavorful fenugreek seeds are popular spices widely used for their well recognized for culinary as well as for medicinal properties. Traditionally, fenugreeks are being used to cure digestive problems and to improve breast milk secretion in the nursing mothers.
Botanically, the fenugreek is a small annual leguminous herb belonging to the family of fabaceae; of the genus: Trigonella. Scientific name: Trigonella foenum-graecum. Some of the common names include greek hay, mehti, bird's foot, greek clover etc.
Fenugreek is native to sub-Himalayan plains of Indian subcontinent and now it is widely grown all-over southern and Mediterranean Europe, Middle-East Asia and northern African regions.
The plant grows up to about 1-2 feet in height with light green color tri-foliate leaves and white flowers. It bears long, slender, yellow-brown pods containing about 10-20 golden-yellow color seeds. Its seeds are small in size, hard, and resemble tiny, multi-faceted stones. Raw seeds have maple flavor and bitter taste, however their taste becomes more acceptable once they gently dry-roasted under light heat.
Health benefits of fenugreek seeds
Fenugreek seeds are rich source of minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients.
The seeds are very good source of soluble dietary fiber. Soaking the seeds in water makes their outer coat soft and mucilaginous. 100 g of seeds provide 24.6 g or over 65% of dietary fiber.
Non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) which constitute major fiber content in the fenugreeks include saponins, hemicelluloses, mucilage, tannin, and pectin. These compounds help lower blood LDL-cholesterol levels by inhibiting bile salts re-absorption in the colon. They also bind to toxins in the food and helps to protect the colon mucus membrane from cancers.
NSPs (non-starch polysaccharides) increase the bulk of the food and augments bowel movements. Altogether, NSPs assist in smooth digestion and help relieve constipation ailments.
It has been established that amino-acid 4-hydroxy isoleucine present in the fenugreek seeds has facilitator action on insulin secretion. In addition, fiber in the seeds help lower rate of glucose absorption in the intestines thus controls blood sugar levels. The seeds are therefore recommended in diabetic diet.
The seeds contain many phytochemical compounds such as choline, trigonelline diosgenin, yamogenin, gitogenin, tigogenin and neotigogens. Together, these compounds account for the medicinal properties of fenugreeks.
This prized spice is an excellent source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, manganese, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure by countering action on sodium. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome-oxidases enzymes.
It is also rich in many vital vitamins including thiamin, pyridoxine (vit.B-6), folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A and vitamin-C that are essential nutrients for optimum health.
Medicinal uses of fenugreek seed
Its seeds have been used in many traditional medicines as laxative, digestive, and as a remedy for cough and bronchitis.
If used regularly, fenugreeks may help control cholesterol, triglyceride as well as high blood sugar (glycemic) levels in diabetics.
Fenugreek seeds added to cereals and wheat flour (bread) or made in gruel, given to the nursing mothers to increase milk synthesis.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||6.41 g||21%|
|Dietary Fiber||24.6 g||65%|
|Vitamin A||60 IU||2%|
|Vitamin C||3 mg||5%|
Selection and storage
Fenugreek seeds are readily available in the spice stores year around. One may find different forms of seeds such as whole seeds, powdered or paste in these stores.
Choose whole seeds from authentic brands. The seeds should feature bright golden-yellow color, hard and exude delicate maple flavor. Avoid old stocks as they may infect by fungal mold and out of flavor.
Store whole seeds in airtight glass container and place in a cool, dark place where it will stay fresh for several months. Powdered or paste fenugreek however should be kept in the air-sealed packets and placed in the refrigerator.
Traditionally, fenugreek seeds are being used in a wide range of culinary recipes. The seeds either in the forms of whole seeds, sprouted, powder, sauce or as paste used in a variety of spicy dishes in many parts of Middle-East, India, Mediterranean and Central Asian regions.
The seeds should be added in small quantities in food because they have strong aroma and bitter taste. Dry fry under light heat in order to mellow their flavor.
Here are some serving tips:
Fenugreeks are used as an important ingredient in curry powder.
Small quantity of sprouted seeds added to vegetables and lentils dishes.
Fenugreek leaves, either fresh or dried are also favored in cooking with spinach, potato, carrots etc.
- Sprouted fenugreek seeds are used in salads, paste, dips, fillings etc.
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