Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds are used as an herbal remedy for various conditions or as part of a healthy diet. Some scientific evidence supports is use for diabetes, milk production for breastfeeding and to boost testosterone. Although the evidence is limited, there are some promising studies that prove its potential effectiveness.
One interesting fact about fenugreek is that it can make your urine smell like maple syrup, if you take a high dose. This is due to a compound called solotone, which influences it’s taste and smell.
Fenugreek (methi) can be taken as a supplement when used for specific health reasons. However, the seeds can be added to food, such as baked goods or can be consumed as a tea beverage. This article is going to look at some of its potential benefits, side effects and uses.
1. Fenugreek Nutritional Profile
Fenugreek is low in cholesterol, unhealthy fats and sodium. Some of its nutritional benefits in one tablespoon is as follows:
- 2.7 grams of dietary fiber (11 percent daily value)
- 2.5 grams of protein (5 percent daily value)
- 3/7 milligrams of iron (20 percent daily value)
- 15 milligrams of phytosterols
Small amounts of vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, selenium and calcium is found in fenugreek.
2. Fenugreek Can Help Treat Diabetes
A study published in the “International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research” looked at how fenugreek affects blood-sugar levels and whether it can aid in diabetes treatment. Twenty four volunteers with type 2 diabetes took 10 grams of fenugreek seeds in a powdered form that was either mixed in with yogurt or soaked in hot water.
When consumed with hot water, fenugreek significantly decreased fasted blood sugar levels by 25 percent, triglycerides by 30 percent and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol by 30 percent.
However, the fenugreek mixed in with yogurt had no significant effects on the volunteers. This small study suggests that it’s more effective to consume fenugreek as a tea or mix in the powder directly into hot water for health benefits.
The study concludes that fenugreek soaked in hot water can enhance the efficacy of treatment for diabetes. Consult your physician before using fenugreek as a home remedy.
Other studies have found that mixing 15 grams of fenugreek into meals helped reduce post-meal blood sugar levels. This is probably due to its fiber content and other fibrous foods should have the same effects.
3. Helps Control Appetite
Fenugreek is rich in fiber and this contributes to its ability to help control appetite. This can lead to better weight management and possibly weight loss when combined with a low-carb diet.
The”European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology” published a study that investigates the effect of fenugreek seed extract on overweight men and food intake. The study used abouut 40 overweight individuals who are healthy. Subjects took either fenugreek or placebo for the 6-wekk duration of the trail. The study found that those who took fenugreek ate less fat than those who were on placebo.
The same journal conducted another study with about 12 healthy weight individuals who took different doses of fenugreek (590 milligrams/1170 milligrams) or a placebo. The volunteers went through three 2-week trial periods and a 2-week washout period, which is when the volunteers stop taking any/certain medications.
The results showed that the higher dose of fenugreek was more effective and the researchers concluded that fenugreek can help decrease fat consumption.
4. It Can Help Prevent Diabetes
The “Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders” investigated whether fenugreek can help prevent diabetes in people with prediabetes. Both female and male volunteers were given 5 grams of fenugreek before a meal, twice a day. The volvolunteers were reviewed every three months for the 3 year duration of the study.
The study showed that those who consumed fenugreek had a significantly lower rate of developing diabetes than those in a controlled group. Fenugreek seems to have helped control blood-glucose levels and reduce LDL cholesterol. However, fenugreek increases serum insulin levels, which can lead to diabetes. On the other hand, it decreased insulin resistance, which is important in preventing type 2 diabetes.
5. Boost Milk Production in Breastfeeding Women
Fenugreek can benefit breastfeeding mothers by increasing breast milk production. The “Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine” published a study on the effects of an herbal tea containing fenugreek on infant weight gain and breastmilk production.
The study consisted of 66 mothers who either took an herbal tea with fenugreek, placebo or a controlled treatment. The mothers who consumed the herbal tea produced significantly higher volumes of breastmilk and their infants regained their birth weight quicker than those who were on placebo or a controlled group.
This study suggests that mothers who want to increase their breastmilk volume could benefit from fenugreek tea. The study does not mention any specific dosage; consult a doctor first for advice and start with 2 to 3 cups per day. No significant side effects was noted in the study.
6. Improves Libido (Sexual Desire) in Men
“Phytotherapy Research” published a study that investigates the effects of a fenugreek extract on the sex drive of 60 men (aged 25 to 52) with no history of erectile dysfunction. The volunteers took 600 milligrams per day in the form of two 300 milligram oral supplements for 6 weeks. They self-reported significant improvements orgasms and sexual desire. Volunteers also reported improvements in well-being, energy levels and strength.
Fenugreek has garnered mixed results in some studies when it comes to testosterone. The “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” published a study on the effects of fenugreek on young men who exercise regularly. Subjects in the study took either 500 milligrams of fenugreek or a placebo. The study suggest that fenugreek helps reduce body fat percentage and increase testosterone by a small amount. It is unclear whether a larger dose of fenugreek or a different form of supplementation could help boost or reduce its testosterone-boosting effect.
Another study published in the “International Journal of Exercise Science” conducted a similar study with resistance-trained males and concluded that fenugreek had no significant effect on testosterone or the hormonal profile in general.