Fenugreek leaves: Health benefits, nutrients & uses

fenugreek leaves

Fenugreek leaves has received lots of attention for its health benefits globally. As a result, there has been a sudden upsurge in demand for fenugreek-based health supplements in Europe and the US in recent years. However, most of these health supplements are made using fenugreek seeds and rarely leaves.

In Asia and particularly in India, people consume fenugreek leaves as a part of a diet or use in herbal remedies. Thus, no surprise that India is the major producer and consumer of fenugreek leaves, also commonly called “methi.” Its botanical name is Trigonella foenum granum.

Another variety of fenugreek is frequently consumed in India called “Kasuri Methi”, also known as Trigonella corniculate in botany. However, it is not clear if it also has similar health benefits.

Highly nutritious food item

Fenugreek leaves have a lot of various health benefits. They are an excellent source of nutrition. They have 4% protein, which is relatively high for leafy vegetables, along with 6% carbs and 1% fats. It is also rich in vitamin C, carotenoids, niacin, potassium, and other micronutrients.

Therefore, it is good to include fenugreek leaves in a regular diet. However, there are some challenges, like its seasonal availability. Fortunately, studies show that it does not lose nutritional value much on drying.

Excellent source of antioxidants

Fenugreek is also an excellent source of antioxidants. Thus, they may help prevent various chronic ailments and may have some anti-aging properties. Studies show that fenugreek leaves are especially abundant in phenolic compounds and flavonoids. Additionally, vitamins in the leaves may also contribute to their antioxidant action. It means that regular consumption of fenugreek may help reduce the risk of many chronic and inflammatory conditions, too.

Diabetes management

Fenugreek leaves have a very low glycemic index and are thus fit for regular consumption by those living with diabetes. Moreover, it appears that fenugreek leaves may also help lower blood sugar. Although, its mechanism of action is poorly understood.

The use of fenugreek for managing diabetes is not new in India. In fact, some of the ancient Indian physicians used fenugreek to manage diabetes. Moreover, fenugreek is also mentioned as one of the treatments for diabetes in The Canon of Medicine, by Avicenna.

However, it is worth understanding that most research regarding its benefit in diabetes has been on fenugreek seeds and not leaves. This is because most commercially available supplements also contain seed extract. Nevertheless, it appears that leaves also have glucose-lowering properties, as some supplements use whole plant extract. Additionally, some emerging studies show that leaves can also help, though they have lesser glucose-lowering action than seeds.

Good for lowering cholesterol

High cholesterol is a common problem in India. It is a hidden cause of cardiovascular diseases, as many with high cholesterol may not have any signs or symptoms. Nevertheless, persistently high cholesterol causes atherosclerosis and thus increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Further, high cholesterol is quite common in those living with diabetes. Since fenugreek is quite suitable for diabetes, researchers have extensively tested it for lowering cholesterol. Moreover, some studies have specifically used fenugreek leaves and not seeds.

In one of the lag experiments, researchers used rats with induced diabetes and high cholesterol. They found that regularly feeding rats could considerably help lower cholesterol levels. And thus, it would be correct to say that regular dietary consumption of fenugreek is also suitable for cardiovascular health.

Good for those living with high blood pressure

High blood pressure is called a silent killer. Unfortunately, it is highly prevalent in India, with some studies suggesting that as many as one-third of adults living with high blood pressure. Fortunately, many people are living with mild to moderate hypertension that can be managed through lifestyle interventions and natural remedies. 

Thus, regular consumption of fenugreek leaves may be one of the natural, safe ways of managing mild hypertension. Additionally, those living with moderate to high blood pressure may also benefit from regular consumption of fenugreek. Moreover, fenugreek is also suitable for metabolic diseases and thus may have a role in slowing down the progress of the conditions.

Boost milk production

Many women have a problem of low milk production, which may have an adverse impact on a child’s health, too. Although some medications can help boost milk production, but there are safety concerns. Thus, most women would like to use natural galactagogues. It appears that fenugreek is one such remedy.

There are many studies regarding the use of fenugreek seeds and leaves for boosting milk production, and it seems that it works. Thus, in one of the clinical trials, researchers found that fenugreek tea may increase milk production. However, for Indians, consuming fenugreek as a part of a diet may be an appropriate option.

Helps fight infections

India is a predominantly sub-tropical nation, and thus the relatively high prevalence of various infectious diseases. In addition, antibiotic abuse and rising drug resistance are severe concerns. Therefore, there is clearly a need to use herbs to fight infections.

Studies show that fenugreek can help suppress the growth of some of the common pathogens like S. aureus and P. aeruginosa. These bacteria are frequently found in difficult-to-treat infections like antibiotic-resistant pneumonia. Thus, those living with chronic diseases may consume fenugreek daily to get rid of chronic infections that would not respond to antibiotics.

Skin health

Fenugreek leaf extract is thought to be good for skin health. It appears to help fight infections, reduce inflammation, and may even help fight allergic skin conditions. However, it is not evident if similar benefits are seen when fenugreek leaves are consumed as a part of a regular diet.

Final thoughts

Fenugreek leaves are part of the regular diet in various parts of India. Studies show that it is exceptionally high in nutrients for a green leafy vegetable. However, many people do not realize that regular fenugreek consumption is also associated with a range of health benefits. Fenugreek is especially good for metabolic health, diabetes, vascular health and may help fight infections.

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