Can you eat fenugreek seeds?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat fenugreek seeds?”, and how to eat fenugreek seeds?

Can you eat fenugreek seeds?

Yes, you can eat fenugreek seeds. It is recommended to use soaked fenugreek seeds on an empty stomach for weight loss. 

You can also include fenugreek seed sprouts in your diet. If you do not have time to soak the seeds to soften them, you can drink their extract by making fenugreek seed tea. 

Being a legume, raw fenugreek seeds contain many antinutrients, such as phytate and tannin, which are compounds that reduce the nutrient utilization and food intake of plants or plant products. These anti-nutritional factors must be inactivated or removed if values of food substances are to be fully maintained. Soaking, germinating, roasting and cooking are some methods to improve the nutritional property of the seed (2).

Read on if you want to know how eating fenugreek seeds benefits your health.

In India fenugreek seeds are produced in large quantities in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttaranchal. The state of Rajasthan produces the lion’s share of India’s production, contributing nearly 80 % of the country’s output. Fenugreek seeds are an important winter crop in Rajasthan and have an important role in the rural economy of Rajasthan, The area under fenugreek and its production is showing an increasing trend in the last four years. In the year 2010-11 the area under fenugreek was 80378 hectares and the production was 94200 MT (1).

How to eat fenugreek seeds?

Eating soaked fenugreek seeds

  1. Place fenugreek seeds in a bowl and pour 1 cup (240 ml) warm water over the seeds. You could use either distilled or tap water.
  2. If you have plenty of time, you can soak the seeds in room temperature water and leave them soaked overnight. Cover the container to deter the bugs.
  3. Drain the water from the fenugreek seeds using a strainer. Store the leftover seeds in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  4. To aid weight loss, eat one cup of these soaked fenugreek seeds every day on an empty stomach.

Soaking is an attractive method for removing the antinutrient content of foods because it also reduces cooking time. Soaking also enhances release of enzymes (e.g. endogenous phytases), which are present in plant foods like almonds and other nuts and grains (2).

Eating sprouted seeds 

  1. Soak the fenugreek seeds in 1 cup (240 ml) of warm water. Leave them to soak overnight. Drain the excess water using a strainer the next day.
  2. Damp a cloth, preferably a muslin cloth, with warm water. Fold the seeds in this damp piece of cloth.
  3. Leave the seeds inside the damp cloth for up to 3 days or until the seeds sprout. Store the leftover sprouted seeds in the fridge for up to a week.
  4. If weight loss is your target, then it is best to eat these sprouted fenugreek seeds daily on an empty stomach. However, you can also add these sprouts to your salad bowl.

Generally, phytic acids affect the bioavailability of minerals and have a strong effect on infants, pregnant and lactating women when large portions of cereal-based foods are consumed. During germination of seeds, some native enzymes are activated, which degrade the phytic acid (2).

Adding fenugreek seeds to meals 

Season your meat or dishes: Use fenugreek seed powder to flavor your dishes to season your meat. You can make yourself by grinding these seeds using a spice grinder. 

Fenugreek seed powder, stored in an air-tight container in the pantry, lasts about a year. It imparts a bitter-sweet taste to your dishes.

The milling technique removes anti-nutrients (e.g. phytic acid, lectins, tannins), which are present in the bran of grains, but this technique has a main disadvantage that it also removes important minerals (2).

Add to your curry: Make a paste by mixing fenugreek seed powder with some water. Combine this thick paste with your curry for a sweet hint.

Add to stir-fries: Roast fenugreek seeds for 1-2 minutes in a pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the roasted fenugreek seeds over your favorite stir-fry. You could also sprinkle some seeds over your curry or salad for texture and presentation. Fenugreek seed powder of roasted seeds imparts more flavor when added to dishes.

Benefits of eating fenugreek seeds 

Aids in weight loss

Fenugreek seeds are packed with fiber like Galactomannan and other nutrients that help in weight loss. 

The dietary fibers such as galactomannan from fenugreek seeds appear significant anti-obesity function by forming a viscous gel in the intestine and inhibiting glucose and lipid absorption. The water extract of fenugreek seeds (20:1) reduced fat accumulation induced by high-fat diet and improved dyslipidemia in rats via inhibiting fat digestion and absorption, improving metabolism of glucose and fat, enhancing insulin sensitivity, improving antioxidant capacity and reducing lipase (3).

Galactomannan is a soluble fiber that promotes weight loss by accelerating metabolism and encouraging fat burn. It also reduces your appetite by giving you a sense of satiety.

Lowers cholesterol 

Due to the presence of serious saponins, fenugreek seeds are capable of reducing blood LDL, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels while simultaneously increasing the HDL(good cholesterol) levels. It does so by impeding the absorption of cholesterol directly from the intestines. The oral intake of ethyl acetate extract of fenugreek seeds has been tested to reduce triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol while increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC); hence had a noteworthy antioxidant and hypocholesterolemic effects (3).

Aids in proper digestion 

Fenugreek is a rich source of fiber and antioxidants, both of which promote digestion and detoxify the body. 

Drinking fenugreek tea or eating fenugreek seeds on an empty stomach helps relieve indigestion or constipation and stomach pain.

Fenugreek added to rice and wheat diets can lower GI by delaying gastric emptying and increased intestinal transit time, decreasing glucose absorption, and inhibiting starch digestion due to soluble fiber and galactomannans (3).

Prevents colon cancer 

The fiber present in fenugreek seeds removes the toxins from your blood to protect the mucous membrane of the colon from the cancerous effects of these toxins.

Scientists studied alcoholic whole plant extracts of fenugreek which showed in vitro cytotoxicity against different human cancer cell lines such as lung (A-549), liver (Hep-2) colon (502713, HT- 29) and neuroblastoma (IMR-32). A selective cytotoxic effect of fenugreek extract in vitro to a panel of cancer cell lines has been observed, including T-cell lymphoma (4).

Improves blood sugar levels 

Due to the rich amount of soluble fiber, fenugreek seeds can delay the digestion or absorption of sugars from your digestive system. This is particularly helpful for diabetics as it helps regulates their blood sugar levels.

Fenugreek seeds contained a large amount of soluble dietary fiber (galactomannan), diosgenin, trigonelline, 4-hydroxyisoleucine, flavone C-glycosides and other ingredients that showed hypoglycemic activity on animals (3).

Good for skin 

Regular use of fenugreek seeds or direct application of fenugreek seed paste on your skin is helpful in skin rejuvenation. This property is attributed to the high antioxidant and vitamin content of the fenugreek seeds.

Fenugreek seeds also have been used in Europe to treat temporary skin inflammations (3). The oil in the seeds is used as a skin softener and emollient (4).

Relieves menstrual discomfort

Fenugreek seeds contain two very important compounds called diosgenin and isoflavones. Both of these compounds have properties similar to estrogen and they help relieve menstrual discomfort by preventing menstrual cramps. 

They are also helpful during manopause where they help prevent hot lashes and control mood fluctuations.

In the Middle East and the Balkans, the aerial parts of plants are a folk remedy for abdominal cramps associated with both menstrual pain and diarrhea or gastroenteritis. They are also used to ease labor pains (4).

Prevents hair fall

Boil the fenugreek seeds in coconut oil and let them soak overnight. Massage this oil in your hair the next day. Use it regularly to prevent hair fall and dandruff. The oleoresin extracted from the seed is used in perfumery, cosmetics, and hair tonics (4).

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat fenugreek seeds?”, and how to eat fenugreek seeds?

References

  1. Vidyashankar, Ganaganur Krishnappa. Fenugreek: An analysis from trade and commerce perspective. Am J Soc Iss Human, 2014, 16270, 10.
  2. Samtiya, Mrinal, Rotimi E. Aluko, and Tejpal Dhewa. Plant food anti-nutritional factors and their reduction strategies: an overview. Food Product Process Nutr, 2020, 2, 1-14.
  3. Yao, Dongning, et al. Advances on application of fenugreek seeds as functional foods: Pharmacology, clinical application, products, patents and market. Crit rev food sci nutr, 2020, 60, 2342-2352.
  4. Salman, Mohammad Tariq, and Fardan Qadeer. Pharmacological Actions and Therapeutic Potential of Trigonella foenum-graecum L. Fenugreek. Springer, Singapore, 2021. 523-537.