Benefits of Fenugreek
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-gracum) is one of the most promising medicinal herbs, known from ancient times. Various species of genus Trigonella are important from medical and culinary aspect. Among these, Trigonella foenum-graecum is commonly grown as a vegetable is very famous for its appetizing fragrance. It is known for its medicinal properties such as carminative, gastric stimulant, antidiabetic and galactogogue (lactation-inducer) effects. Aromatic and flavourful fenugreek is a popular spice and is widely used for well recognized culinary properties.
This anti-diabetic herb can lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Another species, Trigonella caerulea is used as food in the form of young seedlings. This herb is also used in cheese making. Newer research has identified hypocholesterolemic, antilipidemia, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiulcer, antilithigenic, anticarcinogenic properties in this herb.
Fenugreek seeds have antioxidant activity and have been shown to produce beneficial effects such as neutralization of free radicals and enhancement of antioxidant apparatus. Fenugreek seeds in a dose-dependent manner could protect cell structure and function from the toxic effects of Ethanol (alcohol toxicity).
The fresh leaves are used in the vegetables as green leafy vegetable in the diets. These leaves provide β-carotene, fibre, calcium and zinc. fresh fenugreek leaves contain ascorbic acid of 220.97 mg per 100 g of leaves and β-carotene of 19 mg per 100 g of leaves.
Fenugreek seeds are the most important and useful part of fenugreek plant. These seeds are golden-yellow in colour, small in size and hard. Raw fenugreek seeds have maple flavour and bitter taste but by the process of roasting, their bitterness can be reduced. Fenugreek seed contains volatile oil and fixed oil in small quantities.
Fenugreek gum is less used in the food industry as compared to other gums. It consists of galactose and manose and gives high viscosity in the aqueous solution. Fenugreek gum is a type of soluble dietary fibre and can be incorporated in bread making.
It should not be consumed in excess amount because it has high content of fibre which may cause problem with digestion.
Fenugreek is a promising protective medicinal herb for complementary therapy in cancer patients. India is a major producer of fenugreek and also a major consumer of it for its culinary uses and medicinal application.
The medicinal uses are summarised in the following table below.