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Why Should You Choose Fenugreek over Other Seeds?

Why Should You Choose Fenugreek over Other Seeds?

Fenugreek is a herb you might not have heard of if you don’t do a lot of cooking or aren’t from the parts of the world where it is commonly used (or a breastfeeding mom). But you’ve tasted fenugreek if you’ve ever had artificial maple syrup, and you’ve probably had it in your favorite Chinese, Indian or Mediterranean food.

What is Fenugreek?

The plant fenugreek is an annual from the family Fabacaea (which includes peas and legumes). The plant has clusters of three oval leaves.

The leaves can be used as an herb, and it is eaten like a vegetable or in salads in India and elsewhere. The seeds are also used as a spice, and many of the medicinal preparations using fenugreek involve the seeds.

    What Does it Taste Like?

    As you might imagine from its common use, fenugreek tastes a little like maple syrup. It is a sweet-tasting herb that combines well with the spicier flavors enjoyed in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. The seeds have a bit of a bitter taste that is made milder through cooking.

    Fenugreek is often one of the spices in Chinese five spice powder (along with anise or corriander, Szechuan or black peppercorns, cinnamon and cloves) and is used in curry powder as well.

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    Nutrition Profile

    • Fiber: 3 grams
    • Protein: 3 grams
    • Carbs: 6 grams
    • Fat: 1 gram
    • Iron: 20% of your daily requirements
    • Manganese: 7% of your daily requirements
    • Magnesium: 5% of your daily requirements

    Health Benefits of Fenugreek

    1. It increases breastmilk supply

    If you’re a mom you might have heard that one of the health benefits of fenugreek is boosting milk production. Many breastfeeding moms drink tea or take supplements that include fenugreek as a galactagogue (that’s a fancy word for something that increases milk supply).

    Some studies have been done on the use of fenugreek among new moms, but results have been mixed. Talk to your lactation consultant about dosing if you want to try it. Doses of more than 3,500 mg a day are not uncommon; you’ll know you’re getting enough when your urine starts to smell like maple syrup. You may see a result within a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

    2. It reduces inflammation

    But there are a lot of other benefits of consuming this herb regularly. Fenugreek is said to be antimicrobial and antioxidant, and it can reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation can lead to all sorts of health problems, from depression to heart disease and arthritis.

    3. It helps with your digestive system as well

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    It is considered an appetite stimulant and can be taken for gastrointestinal problems such as an upset stomach, constipation and gastritis. It has also been used to treat diabetes because it seems to be able to slow absorption of sugar in the stomach and boost insulin production. It might also be helpful for people with high cholesterol.

    4. It serves as an aid for both men and women’s reproductive system

    Women might also see a benefit from taking the herb when they suffer from painful menstruations or polycystic ovary syndrome. Men could use it to treat erectile dysfunction and male infertility, among many other uses.

      Dangers of Using Fenugreek

      Fenugreek sprouts were determined to be the cause of an E.coli outbreak in Germany and France in 2011. The herb and its seeds are generally safe, but they could interfere with blood-clotting drugs.

      Because fenugreek is part of the legume family, people who have peanut allergies or other legume allergies may have a reaction to this herb.

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      In large doses it can also cause diarrhea and stomach upset. Always check with a doctor before consuming an herb or seed medicinally, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.

      Fenugreek Recipes

      If you’d like to experiment with fenugreek in cooking, there are lots of ways to try it. Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredients lists on some of these recipes – spice blends often have a lot of components but are easy to put together.

      1. Methi Chicken Recipe

        If you want to try a dish using fresh fenugreek leaves, try this methi murgh recipe from the Daily Meal. Check Asian markets for the fresh leaves.

        2. Wild Mushroom Biryani

          The recipe from the Daily Meal calls for dried fenugreek leaves.

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          3. Makhani Chicken

            Indian butter chicken is another classic dish that uses dried leaves, as in this recipe from All Recipes.

            4. Mothers’ Milk Tea

              Help a new mom by brewing up some mothers’ milk tea , which includes fenugreek seeds as a main ingredient. Get the recipe from the Kitchn.

              5. Spiced Cauliflower with Toasted Coconut and Red Lentils

                A great side dish using fenugreek seeds is the spiced cauliflower with toasted coconut and red lentils from the BBC. This recipe has a lot of parts, but you could just make the cauliflower for a taste of fenugreek without all the work.

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                Sarah White

                Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

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                Last Updated on August 12, 2019

                12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

                12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

                Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

                But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

                I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

                Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

                1. Nuts

                The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

                Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

                Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

                Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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                2. Blueberries

                Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

                When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

                3. Tomatoes

                Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

                4. Broccoli

                While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

                Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

                Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

                5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

                Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

                The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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                Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

                6. Soy

                Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

                Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

                Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

                7. Dark Chocolate

                When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

                Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

                8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

                Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

                B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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                Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

                Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

                To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

                9. Foods Rich in Zinc

                Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

                Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

                Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

                10. Gingko Biloba

                This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

                It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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                However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

                11. Green and Black Tea

                Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

                Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

                Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

                12. Sage and Rosemary

                Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

                Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

                When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

                More About Boosting Brain Power

                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                Reference

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