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Fenugreek seeds are golden yellow and appear in pods, with about 10–20 seeds in each pod. The seeds are ground into powder, which is used as a spice. You may find fenugreek seed powder in curry powders and pastes. It is also used as an ingredient in making bread. (1)
The leaves are used as greens and as a flavoring in dishes. Fenugreek extract can also be found in soaps and cosmetics. Sun-dried fenugreek is used in many recipes.
Nutritional Value of Fenugreek
One tablespoon of ground fenugreek contains:
- 35 calories
- 6 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of which is fiber
- 1 gram of fat
- 2.5 grams of protein
- 3.7 mg, or 20% of your daily needs
- 7% of your daily manganese needs
- Magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium (2)
Health Benefits of Fenugreek
Fenugreek is a herb that offers many benefits to your health.
1. Helps with diabetes management
Fenugreek is beneficial for patients with diabetes. There is evidence that fenugreek seeds can lower blood glucose and improve glucose tolerance. (3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8) However, more studies are needed to determine the efficacy, safety, and correct dosage of this remedy.
Fenugreek can help improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes and prediabetes when included in a well-balanced diet and along with proper medication and exercise.
2. Increases testosterone
A study also found that fenugreek extract, in combination with Lespedeza cuneata extracts, significantly improved the symptoms of testosterone deficiency syndrome (TDS). (11)
Fenugreek is helpful in enhancing the sexual health of men, but more research is needed to figure out the exact mechanism, proper usage, and dosage of this herb in this regard.
3. Promotes milk production
Studies suggest that the intake of fenugreek seeds or fenugreek tea can influence dopamine levels and other hormones involved in lactation to improve breast milk supply and therefore contribute to healthy weight gain in babies. (12)(13)(14)
While the currently available evidence is promising, more extensive studies are needed to confirm these claims.
Fenugreek is a known galactagogue, an agent that promotes the production of breast milk in lactating mothers when taken in appropriate amounts.
4. Alleviates menstrual pain
Some studies found fenugreek to be useful in reducing menstrual discomfort, although others did not show any significant improvement. (17)
There is mixed evidence about the effects of fenugreek on menstrual pain and other symptoms of dysmenorrhea, but it is a fairly safe remedy to try.
Other Health Benefits of Fenugreek
Fenugreek is known to offer the following health benefits, although no sufficient evidence is yet available to support these claims.
1. Aids in weight loss
A few small studies found that adding fenugreek to your dishes and drinking fenugreek tea can make your meals more satisfying and make you full faster due to its high fiber content, thereby reducing your overall appetite. (18)(19)
2. Promotes heart health
3. Reduces inflammation
4. Helps with PCOS management
5. Enhances exercise performance
One study suggested that fenugreek may help enhance upper and lower body strength. (26)
6. Promotes wound healing
Fenugreek has historically been used in oils and creams to aid in wound healing, which may be a result of its strong antioxidant activity. (27)
7. Combats skin diseases
8. Supports hair health
Your hair is made up of protein and fenugreek contains lots of it.
9. Fights colds and flu
Fenugreek is an antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant agent that can help ward off infection-causing germs. (30)
Fenugreek has many reported beneficial effects on various health concerns. However, more research is needed to confirm its efficacy, proper usage, and dosage.
Safety and Side Effects of Fenugreek
Fenugreek is generally considered safe for consumption in food amounts, but medicinal doses should only be taken after consulting with your doctor and for not more than 6 months.
Fenugreek is associated with the following side effects:
- Allergic reactions to fenugreek are rare but possible, especially in people with preexisting allergies to soybeans, green peas, and peanuts. (31)
- Pregnant women are advised against taking fenugreek in large doses, as it may lead to a congenital disorder, early contractions, and preterm labor.
- Taking more than 100 grams of fenugreek seeds daily can result in gastrointestinal distress, gas, nausea, bloating, diarrhea, headaches, light-headedness, malodorous urine that smells like maple syrup, and worsening of asthma.
- Avoid giving fenugreek tea to children, as there are some reports of children losing consciousness after drinking it. (32)
Those taking diabetic medications or blood thinners should be cautious about taking fenugreek, as it may lower the blood sugar and thin the blood to dangerous levels.
As always, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about any herbal medications and supplements you are taking to ensure they do not interact with any of your medications or have dangerous consequences, given your health history.
How to Make Fenugreek Tea
- 1 cup of water
- ½ tablespoon fenugreek seeds
- ¼ teaspoon tea leaves
- Sugar or honey to taste (optional)
- Bring water to a boil.
- Add the fenugreek seeds and tea leaves.
- Boil for 5 minutes, and then turn off the heat.
- Allow the ingredients to steep in the water for 5 minutes, and then strain the tea in a cup.
- Sweeten with a bit of honey if you like, and enjoy.
Fenugreek has been used for centuries in different cuisines and traditional medicines. Recent studies have shown some promise to this herb’s ability to improve many health conditions.
More research is needed to understand how to properly use and dose fenugreek as a therapeutic alternative and medical treatment. Always check with your doctor before taking an herbal tea or supplement, especially if you are taking other medications.