Fennel is a flowering, aromatic perennial herb related to the carrot, dill, and parsley family in which all parts are edible.1 It has been used in Ayurveda medicine and in Greek mythology for centuries.14 Fennel is known for its phytochemical, anethole, to reduce inflammation and improve digestion. The seeds, with their high fiber content and volatile oils stimulate bile production to allow food to move faster through the body.14 The digestive benefit is well known in India, where individuals commonly chew fennel seeds after a meal.
Fennel has no known adverse reactions. It’s best to purchase whole seeds verses powder, since fennel has a relatively short shelf life.8
To prepare fresh fennel, thinly slice the bulb to accompany salads and sandwiches, or sauté to add flavor to meats and fish. The stalks and leaves can add subtle flavor in soups, stews and stocks.14