Fenugreek scientifically known as Trigonella foenum-graecum L is an annual herbaceous leguminous plant cultivated in all major continents. The seeds of fenugreek are rich in amino acids, protein, and oil. The seeds because of its huge constituents are widely used for the medicinal purpose from ancient time. Every anciently known culture mention fenugreek as a part of their daily medicinal constituents.
Nutritional description of Fenugreek seeds
Fenugreek seeds are rich in protein, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and amino acids. According to United State Department of Agriculture, per 100 gm of fenugreek seeds contains following important constituents (5).
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Health Benefits of Fenugreek
1. Prevents ulcer
Water extract of fenugreek seeds helps in reducing the possibility of ulcers. The antiulcer property of fenugreek is because of the flavonoids present in them. These flavonoids act as an antioxidant and maintain the mucosal integrity of the stomach (1).
2. Healthy cardiac activity
Fenugreek seeds help in modulating blood lipid level. It also helps in absorbing cholesterol, triglycerides and other LDL lipids and increase the HDL lipid. This helps in reduction of cardiac-related diseases and keeps the heart healthy
3. Reduce Stroke
Seeds of fenugreek contain an incredible organic substance known as coumarin. Coumarin has a unique property of reducing the probability of blood clotting associated with strokes.
4. Prevents breast cancer
Studies were done on breast cancer cell line, it was found that fenugreek helps in reducing the possibility of breast cancer. Fenugreek contains a compound known as diosgenin which is a poly steroidal sapogenin compound used as a precursor for several hormones. This diosgenin helps in locking the uncontrolled cell proliferation of breast cancer cell line. Thus consuming fenugreek may help in controlling the breast cancer (6).
The antidiabetic nature of fenugreek seeds has been proved through the huge amount of research. Therefore fenugreek can be used as a natural drug against diabetes. Fenugreek has very low or no side effect to the diabetic patient’s contradiction to that of a synthetic drug. Fenugreek contains antihyperglycemic compounds like carbohydrate, alkaloids, and steroids which absorbs excess glucose from the body (7).
6. Increase lactation
Helps in increasing the milk production in mothers. It was found that fenugreek contains some hormone precursor which helps in increasing lactation within 72 hrs of their consumption (8)
7. Healthy hair
Fenugreek because of its protein and lecithin content keeps hair healthy and shiny. Applying fenugreek paste also helps in preventing hair loss, hair thinning and stops dandruff (9).
8. Weight loss
Drinking fenugreek seeds soaked in water everyday morning empty stomach helps in reduction of weight. Fenugreek seeds help in inhibition of impaired fat accumulation and improve glucose and lipid metabolism in the body (10).
9. Enhance immunity
Fenugreek helps in enhancing the immunity of the body. Due to its immune boosting property it can be used for a variety of medicinal purpose and also strengthened the use of Ayurvedic and Unani drugs (10).
10. Stops Cataracts
Fenugreek seeds help in stopping cataract. Studies done on mice who are diabetic showed that on giving fenugreek seeds helps in delaying or reduction of galactose-induced cataracts (12). Therefore taking fenugreek seeds has a dual effect on the body, it not only prevents diabetes but also helps in stopping cataracts.
Inhalation of fenugreek seed powder may cause allergy-like coughing, sneezing, and fainting in some people (2)
2. Precaution for Asthma patients
People with chronic asthma should avoid using fenugreek seed powder paste as it causes numbness of head and facial angioedema (2).
Fenugreek causes the reduction in glucose level, therefore one taking fenugreek a person should continuously monitor its blood glucose level (3).
4. Increase bleeding
Fenugreek contains an organic substance known as comurine, which may cause increased bleeding in some people (12)
5. Reduce fertility in male
A diet containing 30% of fenugreek seeds reduce sperm counts in males. In research done on male mice, it was found that fenugreek seeds reduce testis weight and damage seminiferous tubules (11).