Florence fennel, a wonderfully ornamental vegetable, is grown for its swollen leaf bases or ‘bulbs’ and edible leaves. When using in salads, the flavour can be improved by slicing the bulb and putting it in a bowl of water and ice cubes in the fridge for an hour. Steam, grill or boil the ‘bulbs’ and serve with cheese sauce or butter; infuse the leaves in vinegar or add as garnish to salad.
Strictly speaking the large white bulbs of Florence Fennel are not really bulbs at all, they are swollen, over lapping leaf steams. So as a vegetable Florence fennel is closer to celery than it is to the onion family. It has a rather unique taste, similar to aniseed and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked and goes great with fish.
Benefits of Fennel
- Bulb fennel is one of very low calorie vegetables. 100g bulb provides just 31 calories. Further, it contains generous amounts of fiber (3.1g/100 g or 8% of RDI), very little fat and zero cholesterol.
- The bulbs have moderate amounts of minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. Their juicy fronds indeed contain several vital vitamins such as pantothenic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin in small but healthy proportions. 100g fresh bulbs provide 27µg of folates. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. Their adequate levels in the diet during pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn babies.
- In addition, fennel bulb contains an average amount of water-soluble vitamin, vitamin-C. 100 g of fresh bulbs provide 12 mg or 20% of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals. Further, it has small amounts of vitamin A.
- The bulbs have very good levels of heart-friendly electrolyte potassium. 100 g provides 414 mg or 9% of daily-recommended levels. It is an important electrolyte inside the cell. Potassium helps reduce blood pressure and rate of heartbeats by countering effects of sodium. Fennel also contains small amounts of minerals such as copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium.