The health benefits of fenugreek are primarily due to its exceptional antioxidant content. Fenugreek contains significant amounts of the antioxidants vitamin C, quercetin, rutin and superoxide dismutase.
Other nutrients found in fenugreek include protein, niacin and potassium. It is one of the richest sources of phytoestrogens and is thus a very useful spice for women who have low estrogen levels.
Fenugreek is also one of the richest sources of selenium. Selenium supports the activity of the network antioxidants and enhances their effectiveness. It's also an essential component of two important antioxidant enzymes that are manufactured by your body, glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin. These enzymes provide you with benefits for your cardiovascular system, as well as strengthening your immune system against a wide range of other chronic diseases.
Selenium appears to also have a protective effect against a range of cancers, including those of the colon, lung and prostate, when consumed regularly.
It's a little-known fact that herbs (and spices) such as fenugreek have far greater concentrations of antioxidants than any common fruit or vegetable source. Herbs also contain a particularly wide variety of antioxidants as well, making them one of the top antioxidant foods around.
Antioxidants are nutrient compounds found in virtually all plant foods (and also manufactured in your body). The primary job of antioxidants is to protect your cells against the oxidative stress caused by free radicals, considered to be the primary cause of the aging process.
Protecting yourself against free radicals with antioxidants is the most effective way to reduce the risk of many health problems associated with aging. The benefits of antioxidants include powerful protection against all types of degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, and many more.
Antioxidants work together, synergistically, and each one has its own specific characteristics and benefits. One antioxidant may work in places in the body where another one can't go, and neutralize free radicals that other antioxidants miss. Therefore, getting the widest variety of antioxidants is just as important as how much of any one antioxidant you get. See my page on How Do Antioxidants Work? to learn more about this.
The health benefits of fenugreek include its use to treat arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, improve digestion, maintain a healthy metabolism, increase libido and male potency, cure skin problems, treat sore throat, and cure acid reflux. Fenugreek is also being studied for its cardiovascular benefits. Due to its estrogen-like properties, fenugreek has been found to lessen the effect of hot flashes and mood fluctuations that are common symptoms of menopause and PMS.
Recent studies have shown that fenugreek benefits helps lower blood glucose and cholestrol levels. Fenugreek has a beneficial effect on blood fat levels and can substantially reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. In diabetics, it has demonstrated an ability to lower LDL cholesterol, while raising HDL levels. Another health benefit of fenugreek is its ability to reduce abnormal blood clotting associated with heart attacks and strokes.
Fenugreek has similar anti-diabetic properties to cinnamon. Fenugreek is one of the most valuable spices for the control of blood sugar levels and thus the prevention and treatment of Type 2 diabetes. The use of fenugreek has been shown to lower blood glucose levels of Type 2 diabetics by as much as 46 percent.
Athletes who compete in endurance events need to maintain a readily available supply of energy. In order to achieve this, muscle carbohydrates in the form of glycogen must be continuously replenished.
When glycogen stores become depleted, the athlete has to rely on external sources of energy such as high carbohydrate drinks, which are inferior to glycogen as an energy source. The benefits of fenugreek have been shown to have a strong effect on glycogen replenishment in endurance athletes.
The benefits of fenugreek are so numerous, ideally you'd want to have some every day. However, as with any herb or spice, you may find it impractical to include fenugreek in your meal plans that often.
There's an easy way to accomplish this — by making yourself a smoothie every day and adding some fenugreek to your recipe.
Fresh smoothies make for some of the most nutritious, delicious and easy-to-make meals you could imagine. They're a great way to get more of those "good for you" antioxidant-rich foods (that you may not get enough of) into your diet.
I like to use small amounts of fenugreek, cilantro, parsley and basil in my green smoothie recipes to help give them more of the benefits of dark green leafy vegetables. Because they're so concentrated with antioxidants, you can use a much smaller amount than you would with other greens like kale or spinach, and they won't overwhelm the flavor of your smoothie recipe.
I don't stop there, either. I like to use other spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, turmeric and others in my smoothie recipes, mostly for their added antioxidant benefits. Once they're blended in with all the other ingredients, you can't really distinguish any one particular taste. You just need to experiment a little to get the flavor just right for you.
To learn more about the art of making smoothies, skip on over to my page on How to Make a Smoothie the Healthy Way and learn all my tricks for making delicious and nutritious smoothies!
If you want to get all of the health benefits of fenugreek, you'll want to stay away from typical supermarket brands of bottled spices. Most of them are irradiated in order to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses that might be present.
Irradiation damages the integrity of the spice — destroying vitamins, minerals, proteins and other beneficial micronutrients. Irradiation also creates more free radicals, just the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish by eating spices.
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