Fennel is a crisp and tender bulb vegetable that has stalks similar in appearance to celery. While raw fennel has a pronounced and licorice-like flavor, cooked fennel brings out a sweet and unique aroma to hearty dishes. Fennel is prominent in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine.
Cardiovascular disease prevention
Elevated blood pressure
Antioxidant: Vitamin C and manganese are two conventional antioxidants that are commonly known to eradicate free radicals that cause harmful effects to the body such as cellular degradation. Not so commonly known are compounds found in plants known as phytochemicals. They promote disease-fighting properties that animal sources cannot provide. In fennel, phytonutrient flavonoids are primarily responsible for the potent antioxidant activity. Antioxidant activity is directly associated with lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Immune support: There are high levels of vitamin C in fennel, a water-soluble vitamin that neutralizes free radicals in aqueous environments and lowers risk for instable cell growth that can lead to cancer. Vitamin C is also an antimicrobial which is needed for proper immune function.
Lower cholesterol: Due to the high fiber content, fennel can lower elevated blood cholesterol levels by adhering cholesterol to bile salts which are eliminated out of the body through the feces. When the cholesterol levels are below the body’s needs, it will draw from the liver stores and thus lower cholesterol levels.
Colon health: Fiber also removes potentially carcinogenic toxins from the colon and lowers colon cancer risk.
Lower blood pressure: Potassium is one of the essential electrolytes needed to maintain fluid homeostasis. Fennel is high is potassium and may help in maintaining homeostatic water balance and lower blood pressure.
Good sources of:
Vitamin C, fiber, potassium, manganese
Purchasing, storing, & enjoying:
Purchasing: Look for large bulbs that are clean and firm, free from bruises, splitting, and spotting. The bulbs should be a pale white to light green color and the stalks and leaves should be green. Fennel is available from the fall to early spring.
Storing: Fennel should be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. As fennel ages, it loses its flavor so it is recommended to use it as soon as possible. Blanching and freezing is not optimal for storing fennel.
Enjoying: The bulb, stalk, leaves, and seeds are all edible. Cut the stalks away from the bulb at the base where they meet. The stalks of the fennel can be used for soups, stocks, and stews whole the leaves can be used for seasoning. Raw fennel can be sliced and used as a base for a salad.
Resources & recipes:
How to roast fennel: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/roasted_fennel/
Fennel and mint salad: http://www.skinnyscoop.com/listitem/88287/69618/fennel-with-mint-salad
Fennel and tomato soup: http://www.skinnyscoop.com/listitem/88287/69615/fennel-and-tomato-soup
Black-eyed peas and fennel soup: http://clclt.com/eatmycharlotte/archives/2013/01/04/crockpot-recipe-vegan-black-eyed-pea-and-fennel-soup
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