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Food Highlight: Fennel

Food Highlight: Fennel
Food Highlight:  Fennel

Do you use fennel? If not, it’s 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. Picture celery stalks growing out of an onion. Kind of. Except different. Because it’s fennel. And it doesn’t taste like celery and onions. It’s crunchy and slightly sweet, and offers a flavor reminiscent of licorice or anise, which helps it play a role in many Mediterranean dishes. The bulb, stalks, leaves, and seeds are all edible.

This 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. According to the USDA, one cup of raw fennel bulb provides 27 calories, 1 g protein, and 6 g carbohydrates including almost 3 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.

Fennel adds more than flavor to its dishes. The iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and vitamin K can contribute to the production and maintenance of bone structure and strength. Fennel’s fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, B6, and phytonutrients support heart health. The fiber helps to reduce cholesterol and promotes bowel regularity. Potassium is known to help lower blood pressure. As an excellent source of vitamin C, it helps maintain a healthy immune system.

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
  • Sauté with sausage and apples
  • Sauté it with onions
  • Sauté with scallops
  • Bake with salmon
  • Add to homemade stock
  • Roast fennel and add parmesan
  • Make a slaw with grated fennel, apple, and broccoli

This food highlight is offered by Dr. Shillingford, MD, PA, a board certified surgeon specializing in gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and adjustable lap band 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, Miami, Wellington, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Shillingford’s bariatric patients often ask about low calorie foods that are nutrient dense and fennel stacks up big time by supporting a healthy heart, helping with bowel regularity, and supporting healthy bones all while bursting with flavor.