Food Highlight: Fennel

Food Highlight:  Fennel

Fennel is probably one of the vegetables you’ve seen at the grocery store and walked past without really knowing what it was or how to use it. Fennel is a white and green bulb with leafy stalks, slightly reminiscent of a bunch of celery growing out of an onion. The bulb, stalks, leaves, and seeds are all edible. It is crunchy and slightly sweet, and thanks to its flavor reminiscent of licorice or anise, plays a role in many Mediterranean dishes.

One bulb of fennel provides 73 calories, 3 g protein, 0.5 g fat, and 17 g carbohydrates including 7 g of dietary fiber. It is also packed with nutrients: vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A, calcium, iron, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, choline, beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin E and vitamin K, in addition to many antioxidants and estrogen. The low calorie vegetable adds a lot of flavor to dishes, making it a good choice for those seeking to lose weight, including those with gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or lap band surgeries.

Fennel adds more than flavor to its dishes. The iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and vitamin K all contribute to the production and maintenance of bone structure and strength. Fennel’s fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, B6, and phytonutrients all support heart health. The fiber helps to reduce cholesterol. Potassium is known to help lower blood pressure. Vitamin B6 and folate help prevent buildup of homocysteine, which can damage blood vessels. The fiber in fennel naturally promotes bowel regularity. As an excellent source of vitamin C, it helps maintain a healthy immune system. Fennel is also rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants such as rutin, quercetin, lutein, zeaxanthin, kaempferol glycosides, and anethole. Anethole, in particular, may have great importance in reducing inflammation and preventing cancer.

Fennel can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Some ideas to incorporate this versatile vegetable into your diet include:

  • Add it to green salads
  • Chop and toss with orange segments
  • Replace lettuce with fennel on sandwiches
  • Sauteé it with onions
  • Sauteé with scallops
  • Bake with salmon
  • Add to homemade stock
  • Roast with other root vegetables

This food highlight is offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a board certified surgeon specializing in adjustable lap band, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass surgeries. Dr. Shillingford’s bariatric weight loss practice is located in Boca Raton, Florida and serves patients from all over South Florida including Coral Springs, Delray Beach, Miami, Wellington, Naples, and Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Shillingford’s bariatric patients often ask about low calorie foods that are nutrient dense and support a healthy heart, help with bowel regularity, support healthy bones, and taste great.