Fenugreek: Properties and Benefits


Fenugreek, scientific name Trigonella foenum-graecum, is an annual nature plant belonging to the Fabaceae family. The plant has slightly elongated leaves similar to those of the clover. It blooms in late spring with white and yellow flowers.

Fenugreek: properties and benefits
Fenugreek: properties and benefits

The fenugreek has very ancient origins so that they find the news in the Ebers Papyrus (1550 a. C.). The ancient Egyptians were already aware of its therapeutic properties in fact, in addition to using it in some religious rites, they also used it for healing purposes.


Fenugreek seeds are legumes with the appearance of flat seeds with a more or less rhomboid shape. Their smell is quite intense which is not appreciated by everyone. The plant grows in the Mediterranean area with preference, thanks to its good adaptation to soils with high salinity, of the coastal areas.

The Trigonella foenum graecum  is a plant medicines most promising traditional widely cultivated in India, Egypt and Middle East countries. ( 1 ) Its leaves and seeds have been widely used as medicine, spices and food in various pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and functional food industries. ( 2 )

The researchers delved into the therapeutic properties and benefits of the seeds against a variety of ailments including diabetes, tumors, hyperlipidemia, inflammation, neurotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, ulcers, wounds, bacterial and fungal infections, weakness and edema of the legs. ( 3 )

The plant takes 5 to 10 days for germination. It is a fast growing plant that can grow on dry grasslands, cultivated or non-cultivated lands, slopes, plains and field edges. However, it requires a fair amount of sunlight. The plant needs 4-7 months to reach maturity.

It is a drought resistant plant and grows well in tropical climate reasons with mild winter and cool summer.

Chemical Composition

Chemical composition per 100 grams of fenugreek
Water g 8,84
Protein g 23
Carbohydrates g 58,35
Fat g 6,41
Fibers g 24,6
Ashes g 3,40
Calcium mg 176
Iron mg 33,53
Magnesium mg 191
Phosphorus mg 296
Potassium mg 770
Sodium mg 67
Zinc mg 2,50
Copper mg 1,110
Manganese mg 1,228
Selenium mcg 6,3
Vitamin A IU 60
Vitamin A, RAE mcg 3
B1 mg 0,322
B2 mg 0,366
B3 mg 1,640
B5 mg
B6 mg 0,600
Beta-Carotene mcg 96
Vitamin C mg 3
Folate mcg 57

Source: Nutritionvalue

Amino acids: aspartic and glutamic acid, arginine, alanine, phenylalanine, cystine, lysine, methionine, glycine, isoleucine, histidine, leucine, valine, tyrosine, tryptophan, threonine, proline and serine.


100 grams of fenugreek have a caloric intake equal to 323 kcal.

Fenugreek: Properties and Benefits

Fenugreek: properties and benefits

Increase Stamina

In folk medicine, this food has always been considered a food with excellent restorative properties. It is therefore useful in case of convalescence and debilitation states in general. Some pharmacological studies have confirmed these properties are mainly due to the presence of proteins with high biological value: lecithins and phosphates.

Fenugreek seed extract is a component of many diet products that are recommended for athletes.

In an Indian study, the integration of this food showed beneficial effects in male subjects during endurance training without clinical side effects. ( 4 )


The diabetes is a chronic disorder of glucose metabolism and a major cause of heart and kidney disease. India is considered the world capital of diabetes with a total of 62 million cases. ( 5 )

Compared to the non diabetic population, people with diabetes have a shorter life expectancy of about 7 years, an effect directly related to the main diabetic complications. ( 6 ) According to other studies, diabetes is associated with a life expectancy shorter than 10 years. ( 7 )

Trigonella foenum-graecum is widely used in the Indian subcontinent as a food supplement. It has been known for some time that this vegetable has anti-diabetic properties. Scientists have shown that an amino acid in fenugreek seeds increases the release of insulin in human and rat pancreatic cells. ( 8 )

This amino acid, 4-OH Ile, has also been identified as one of the active ingredients for blood sugar control. ( 9 )

According to a 2017 study, a simple addition of fenugreek seeds (10 g per day) can have a synergistic effect along with diet control and exercise on blood sugar. This  within 6 months of treatment. ( 10 )

It has also been confirmed that consumption of fenugreek as a dietary supplement in prediabetes patients could effectively reduce the onset of type 2 diabetes. ( 11 )

There are several studies showing the antidiabetic nature of these seeds. ( 1213 )


In studies, breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life has been shown to give substantial benefits to both the mother and her baby. ( 14 ) The statistics report that an insufficient production of breast milk has been frequently reported as the primary reason for the interruption of breastfeeding.  ( 1516 )

The agents used to increase the production of milk human are called galattagoghi. Traditionally, natural remedies have been viewed as good alternatives to prescription medications. ( 1718 )

The fenugreek ( Trigonella arabica ) is the herbal galactagogue being used to improve the production of human milk in many countries. ( 19 )

A recent Kuwait study has shown that fenugreek is recommended for breastfeeding women with insufficient breast milk intake. ( 20 )

There are several studies that report how this vegetable increases the availability of breast milk within 24 – 72 hours after its intake. ( 21 )

This legume was traditionally used as a remedy for diabetes in many Asian and African civilizations. ( 22 )

Lowers Cholesterol

Thanks to saponins, dietary fiber and an amino acid which takes the name of 4 hydroxy-isoleucine, fenugreek contributes to lowering the level of cholesterol in the blood.

daily dose of the greek hay seeds administered to rats (100 or 500 mg / kg) for 8 weeks , reduced LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, VLDL and total cholesterol and increased “good” cholesterol HDL. ( 23 )

There is also evidence linking this legume in reduced levels of cholesterol in the liver and elevated activity of hepatic triglyceride lipase. ( 24 )

Studies suggest that their optimal consumption can reduce triglycerides and blood cholesterol concentrations. ( 25 )


Cancers are the second leading cause of death worldwide. The conventional treatments cause severe side effects and, at best, prolong the patient’s life by a few years.

There is therefore a growing demand to use alternative concepts or approaches for cancer prevention. A study conducted in the UAE shows a potential protective effect of fenugreek seeds against breast cancer. ( 2627 )

Recent studies suggest that fenugreek and its active components may have potential anticancer properties. Diosgenin, a steroidal saponin, induces apoptosis in colon cancer cells. ( 28 )

Studies indicate that there are phytochemical compounds found in plants such as fenugreek, which can prevent various chronic diseases including tumors. ( 29 )

An Iranian study reports that this legume has the property of inducing apoptosis in cancer cells of radiation-induced leukemia. ( 30 )

Several studies on diosgenin have shown that this compound present in fenugreek has strong anticancer properties. Its mechanism of action is not yet fully understood, but its activity can cause apoptosis in the cells of different types of cancer. ( 31 )


This legume contains other phytochemicals such as choline, trigonelline, trigogenin and diosgenin. The choline is essential for the development of the fetus and the brain. It is therefore a very important substance during pregnancy that can be taken through fenugreek.


Enlargement of seeds

As with all other foods, you should not exceed the dose. Excessive intake could cause gastro-intestinal problems due to the high content of dietary fiber.

It is  not recommended for pregnant women as it could give rise to uterine contractions.

The greek hay can interact with the intake of drugs that, if in doubt. It is mandatory to contact your doctor.

Due to its properties, it should not be taken by diabetics who take insulin.

Excessive intake can cause symptoms such as abdominal bloating, nausea and digestive problems. Its use is not recommended for people with asthma and allergy problems as fenugreek could worsen its symptoms.


The scientific name Trigonella  derives from the triangular shape of the leaves arranged in a trefoil. The term fenugreek derives from the fact that in ancient times this legume was mainly used as fodder for farm animals.

Both ripe and unripe seeds and green leaves have been used as vegetables, food additives, medicinal plants and fodder in the countries of Central and South Asia.

This vegetable is also used in the paper industry, in cosmetics, in pharmacology, in drinks, in perfumes, in paints and in some food-oriented implications.

Due to its very intense smell, it can make the skin stink due to perspiration, especially if you eat very frequently.

It is a food with stimulating, nutritional and neuromuscular properties. Recent studies have shown that taking fenugreek increases resistance to physical effort. The use of fatty acids during physical performance is practically increased.

In Indian and Arab medicine, fenugreek is widely used as an anti diabetic food. It seems that its intake plays a preventive role in the formation of kidney stones.

Maybe Not Everyone Knows That

In Africa, this vegetable is used as a supplement during the preparation of bread. Its components are known to improve the nutritional quality of bread.

In China, it is used as a curative for edemas, while the ancient Egyptians used fenugreek as incense for mummies.

The greek hay is also used by body-building enthusiasts. This is because it has steroidal properties and therefore promotes the development of muscle mass.

Its regular consumption is believed to have aphrodisiac properties in humans by increasing the level of testosterone in the body.

Fenugreek: Properties and Benefits

Italian language version


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