Do you remember when you would visit restaurants, and the waiter would bring a bowl of sweetened saunf along with the food bill? I always thought this was just a complimentary sweet or mouth freshener. However, saunf is also served to help you digest the hearty meal you just ate. In fact, in many homes, water boiled with fennel seeds is consumed regularly to aid digestion.
Fennel, popularly known as saunf, is an aromatic spice and a kitchen staple in every Indian household. It is used in the preparation of curries, sweets, and also for medicinal purposes.
This is a perennial herb known to have originated from the Mediterranean region. Ancient Egyptians used it for cooking and as medicine, while the Chinese would use it to treat snake bites.
Apart from promoting good gut health, saunf has been linked to various health benefits including weight loss. Here’s what science has to say about it.
Fennel is a rich source of fibre and contains various nutrients and antioxidants including zinc, copper, phosphorus, manganese, and folate, among others. Drinking fennel water, which has diuretic properties, helps increase urine flow and remove toxins from the body.
A study was conducted among nine overweight women. One group was made to consume fennel water, another group consumed fenugreek water, while the third group consumed placebo water. The water was provided to the groups before every meal for a few weeks.
The results from the study showed that the group consuming fennel water ate less food or consumed few calories compared to the other two. This is owing to the high-fibre content present in seeds, which works as a bulking agent in the digestive tract and controls a person’s appetite.
However, the same study mentions that a longer trial would be beneficial to determine the effect of fennel on obesity.
Elaborating on this, Dr Jayshri Jain, a Mumbai-based nutritionist, explains that saunf takes a holistic approach towards weight loss and does not offer direct results.
She says, “Saunf improves gut health and improves nutrient absorption in the body. When gut health is good, other issues like indigestion, heartburns or bloating can be avoided and therefore prevent weight gain or obesity. Nutrition absorption also aids weight loss by providing the body with necessary vitamins and minerals for better organ function.”
Jayshri says one can reap maximum benefits by drinking a glass of warm saunf tea post every meal.
If you’re wondering how to make saunf tea, here is a recipe:
1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
1 cup water
- Bring the water to a boil and add fennel seeds. Once the water is bubbling, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool down for 10 mins.
- Strain the seeds from the water and consume.