What Is Fenugreek Good For?

Botanical name: Trigonella foenum-graecum

Fenugreek Nutrition Facts

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum1) is one of the oldest cultivated medicinal plants.2 Today, India is the largest producer of fenugreek, and happens to be a large consumer of it as well.3

Fenugreek is prominent in many cultures, causing it to be known by many names, such as "Alholva, Bird's Foot, Bockshornklee, Bockshornsame, Chandrika, Fenogreco, Foenugraeci Semen, Greek Clover, Greek Hay, Greek Hay Seed, Hu Lu Ba, Medhika, Methi, Senegrain, Trigonella, and Woo Lu Bar,"4 just to name a few.

An annual plant about 2 feet tall,5 fenugreek is also considered a legume.6 It produces light green leaves similar to clover, small white flowers and long pods, each containing 10 to 20 small hard seeds. The seeds have a pungent aroma and taste similar to celery.7

While fenugreek is also used for various industries, including medicine,8 its many culinary uses and curative aspects indicate how versatile this plant and its derivatives can be. The tender leaves can used as salad greens, for example.9

Ground to a fine powder, fenugreek seeds are a favorite ingredient in Indian curries, but it can also enhance any dish.10 After purchasing, fenugreek can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to six months.11

Health Benefits of Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a good source of flavonoids, alkaloids and saponins, as well as other nutrients, such as polysaccharides, that may help support your health.12 In one study, polysaccharides were shown to help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by inhibiting bile salts from being absorbed into the colon, while at the same time reducing the glycemic response to lower the insulin stimulation of hepatic cholesterol systems.13

The amino acid 4-hydroxyisoleucine in fenugreek seeds may help lower the rate of glucose absorption in the intestines, which in turn lowers blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes.14 Their high fiber content also adds to digestive bulk, which helps ease constipation.15

Diosgenin, another key compound found in fenugreek, has been shown to help improve lactation, making it very popular among breastfeeding mothers.16 However, fenugreek can cause uterine contractions, so it's advised that pregnant women avoid it in any form.17 Diosgenin may also help reduce the risk for several types of cancer, as it induces apoptosis.18

Fenugreek contains choline, which studies showed may help to delay mental aging and improve the thinking process.19 It's also considered an aphrodisiac, and several studies tout its potential to increase libido in men.20 Additionally, it's believed to help promote breast growth in women, although no studies have decisively confirmed this benefit yet.21

Fenugreek seeds are rich in minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, copper, zinc, manganese and magnesium. It contains various vitamins as well, including thiamin, folate, riboflavin, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), niacin, and vitamins A and C. For more information about the nutrients that fenugreek has to offer, check out the table below:22

Fenugreek Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 tablespoon (11.1 grams), seed
  Amt. Per
Calories 35.9  
Calories from Fat 0  
Total Fat 0.71 g  
Saturated Fat 0.16 g  
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 7.44 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 6.48 g  
Dietary Fiber 2.73 g  
Sugar 0 g  
Protein 23 g  
Vitamin A 0.33 µg Vitamin C 0.33 mg
Calcium 19.5 mg Iron 3.72 mg

Studies Done on Fenugreek

A double-blind placebo-controlled study was conducted on 25 newly diagnosed patients with Type 2 diabetes to determine the effects of fenugreek seeds on glycemic control and insulin resistance in mild to moderate Type 2 diabetes mellitus. After two months, results showed that insulin and blood glucose levels had significantly reduced.

The researchers concluded that fenugreek seeds may help improve glycemic control and decrease insulin resistance in mild Type 2 diabetic patients, with a favorable effect on hypertriglyceridemia (associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and acute pancreatitis).23

In another study, scientists demonstrated that fenugreek seed extract (FE) are cytotoxic in vitro to certain cancer cells, but not to normal cells. Treatment with 10 to 15 microgram per milliliter (mcg/mL) of FE for 72 hours helped inhibit the growth of breast, pancreatic and prostate cancer cell lines, at least in part due to induction of cell death. Researchers noted that fenugreek is one of many "dietary components" with therapeutic potential.24

Fenugreek Healthy Recipes:
Methi Gobi: Indian Cauliflower With Ginger and Fenugreek

Fenugreek Healthy Recipes


2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 medium-sized red onion, diced

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

1 medium-sized cauliflower, chopped

1/2 cup frozen green peas (optional)

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon dried fenugreek

2 tablespoons grass fed yogurt

1/2 teaspoon raw honey

Cilantro to garnish

Salt, to taste




  1. Heat the oil on medium heat for about one minute, and then add the mustard seeds and heat them until they begin to crackle.
  2. Add in the onion and ginger. Sauté for three to four minutes then add in the cauliflower; cover and cook for three minutes.
  3. Stir in the green peas if using, then add the turmeric, chili powder and salt. Stir well.
  4. Mix in the tomatoes. Cover and cook for five minutes, then stir well.
  5. Add in the dried fenugreek, yogurt and honey. Cover and cook for another five minutes until the vegetables are nice and soft.
  6. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

(Recipe adapted from OneGreenPlanet25)

Fenugreek Fun Facts

Being one of the spices used by ancient Egyptians in their embalming ceremonies,26 prolonged ingestion of fenugreek is widely noted for its ability to change the odor of perspiration and urine to smell like maple syrup.27,27


An ancient herb from Asia and Southern Europe, fenugreek seeds are loaded with vitamins and minerals. These are valuable for their use in food, as well as traditional and modern medicine around the world. One of fenugreek's basic herbal uses is to help stimulate milk production in breastfeeding women28 and to induce childbirth,29 since it contains phytoestrogens similar to the female sex hormone estrogen.30

Other uses include relieving digestive problems and menopausal symptoms, but lately it's had a resurgence in interest as an aphrodisiac.31 Moreover, studies have shown that fenugreek seeds, which are roasted or ground before use, may help lower blood sugar levels and fight certain types of cancer.32