Fennel seeds are often used, especially in Indian culture, at the end of meals to soothe the digestive system. Their licorice-like taste is refreshing and has antioxidant properties that reduce inflammation in the body. Fennel teas have often been used for a similar purpose after meal time or any time that a person’s stomach is not feeling so well. However, for those on a low FODMAP regimen, some teas are not as easy on the stomach. In fact, in high enough servings, some teas are considered high FODMAP and may trigger digestive symptoms. Therefore, let’s learn a little more about fennel tea and how you may fit it into your low FODMAP lifestyle.
What is fennel?
Foeniculum vulgare, or fennel, is a bulbous vegetable with a tall, wispy top that resembles dill. Fennel has been used for many years as a traditional medicine. Research shows that fennel may be helpful in the treatment of various ailments of the digestive, endocrine, respiratory, and reproductive systems. Such ailments include abdominal pain, vomiting, arthritis, constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, gastritis, insomnia, irritable colon, kidney ailments, mouth ulcers, and stomachache.
In its raw and cooked form, it can be used on salads, as snacks, and stewed, boiled, grilled, or roasted in various recipes. The bulb part of fennel has the licorice taste you may be familiar with from fennel seeds and teas. There are two main types of fennel known as Sweet Fennel and Florence Fennel. It’s the Sweet Fennel from which the fennel seeds are extracted. The fennel seeds are the part of the fennel plant that is used to create fennel tea.
Fennel tea and FODMAPs
Unfortunately, fennel tea is not safe on a low FODMAP diet regimen. According to the Monash University app, fennel tea made weak with water is considered high in fructans in as little as a 180 milliliter, or about 6 ounces. Because of this finding, it’s no surprise that the same serving of fennel tea, made strong in water is also considered high FODMAP. When consumed in a larger serving of about 8 ounces, strongly made fennel tea also contains moderate levels of oligosaccharides.
Therefore, if you want to enjoy fennel tea, it’s probably best to stick to no more than about 4 ounces or so. And a few fennel seeds here and there should be ok to chew on for digestion soothing according to Monash University. You may be able to tolerate more depending on your tolerance level of this plant.
A cup of hot tea can be soothing after meal time. Especially if it’s made from ingredients like fennel that help to soothe the digestive system. However, for those who are following a low FODMAP regimen, fennel tea can induce not so soothing digestive symptoms in an average serving size. Therefore, it’s best to enjoy this tea in very small serving sizes around no more than 4 ounces. If this is tolerated well, then you may be able to tolerate more, but use your own discretion. This is because everyone’s digestive system has slightly different levels of tolerance of different foods and beverages.
If you’re on a low FODMAP regimen and are craving a bigger cup of hot tea after meal time to warm your belly, then reach for a tea like peppermint tea. Peppermint teas like Heather’s Tummy Tea™ can help soothe your digestive system the low FODMAP way. However, if you’re looking for a non-tea beverage to help with digestion, then opt for the low FODMAP certified digestive drink LemonAID. This beverage helps to soothe digestion any time of day with lemon juice, ginger, mint, cilantro, and a dab of fennel seeds.
-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD of LighttrackNutrition.com