Fennel Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Fennel

fennel nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a vegetable only recently catching on in the U.S. Often associated with Italian cooking, it's in the same family with carrots and dill. In fact, its fronds look a lot like dill or carrot tops.

Fennel seed can be used as a spice and is popular in Italian and Indian cooking. Fennel is often eaten raw, in salads or as a complement to other foods, but can also be cooked and used in recipes.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (87g) of sliced fennel.

  • Calories: 27
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 45mg
  • Carbohydrates: 6.3g
  • Fiber: 2.7g
  • Sugars: 13g
  • Protein:  1.1g

Carbs in Fennel

Carbs, net carbs, and calories in fennel depend on the amount that you consume.

  • 1/2 cup of sliced raw fennel contains two grams of effective (net) carbohydrate plus 1.5 gram of fiber and 14 calories
  • 1 large bulb of raw fennel (about 8 oz/half a pound) provides 10 grams of effective (net) carbohydrate plus 7 grams of fiber and 73 calories
  • 1 oz. of raw fennel provides one gram of effective (net) carbohydrate plus 1 gram of fiber and 9 calories

Much of the carbohydrate in fennel comes from fiber. A single one-cup serving provides nearly three grams of fiber or about 11 percent of your daily needs.

There is no scientific study of the glycemic index of fennel. However, the estimated glycemic load of fennel is just two, making fennel a low-glycemic food.

Fats in Fennel

There is almost no fat in fennel when consumed raw. Cooked fennel also provides (nearly) no fat, but if you use oil in the cooking process the nutrition facts will change.

Protein in Fennel

Fennel is not a high protein food, but you will get a small, one-gram boost of protein if you consume a one-cup serving.

Micronutrients in Fennel

Fennel provides important vitamins and minerals.

You'll meet about 17 percent of your daily need for vitamin C if you consume a single serving of fennel. You'll also benefit from smaller amounts of vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and pantothenic acid.

Minerals in fennel include potassium (10 percent of your daily recommended intake), and calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium in smaller amounts.

Health Benefits

Fennel contains a number of phytonutrients that are known to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties. Phytonutrients are compounds produced by plants that provide health benefits to the body. The phytochemicals in fennel are reported to include phenylprpanoids, fenchone, rutin, flavonoids, quercetin, limonene, and kaempferol.

Fennel also contains significant amounts of flavonoids, as well as an interesting compound called anethole, which is being studied for possible anti-cancer properties.

Fennel is also used in alternative medicine for a variety of conditions. For example, researchers note that it is often used by breastfeeding mothers to stimulate lactation. There is also some limited evidence that it may be able to boost digestive, endocrine, reproductive, and respiratory health. 

Health experts at the University of Michigan also note that fennel is sometimes used to treat disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, colic, and heartburn. They note that there is some evidence (although not conclusive) to support these uses. 

Common Questions

Can I eat all of the fennel plant or just the bulb?

Although the white bulb of fennel is usually the part that is eaten, the stalks and fronds are also edible.

What does fennel taste like? I've heard it doesn't taste good.

It has a mildly sweet anise-like flavor. If you don't like anise, slice the bulb very thinly and soak in ice water for a few minutes, which will tone down the flavor. 

Recipes and Preparation Tips

Using fennel in recipes adds a savory and sweet flavor to foods. Fennel pairs well with seafood and is often used in roasting fish dishes such as salmon or cod.

Try using fennel in one of these recipes.

Allergies and Interactions

According to the Mayo Clinic, you have a reaction to fennel if you know that you are allergic to birch pollen or mugwort pollen.

Other researchers note because of the low consumption of fennel there aren't many studies that regard the identification of fennel allergens in the literature. However, peach allergic patients may experience symptoms when exposed to fennel.

Lastly, medical experts recommend that if you are taking medications in the fluoroquinolone family—such as Cipro—you should not consume fennel.

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Article Sources

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  • Fennel, raw, bulb. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. USDA

  • Badgujar, S. B., Patel, V. V., & Bandivdekar, A. H. (2014). Foeniculum vulgare Mill: a review of its botany, phytochemistry, pharmacology, contemporary application, and toxicology. BioMed research international2014, 842674. doi: 10.1155%2F2014%2F842674

  • Di Ciaula, A. (2018). Efficacy of bio-optimized extracts of turmeric and essential fennel oil on the quality of life in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Annals of Gastroenterology. doi:10.20524/aog.2018.0304

  • Stafylaraki, C., Farioli, L., Scibilia, J., Giuffrida, M. G., Mascheri, A., Pravettoni, V., Baro, C., Piantanida, M., Primavesi, L., Nichelatti, M., Marocchi, A., Schroeder, J. W., … Pastorello, E. A. (2011). Hypersensitivity to fennel is frequent in peach allergic patients and LTP is a major fennel allergen. Clinical and Translational Allergy1(Suppl 1), P78. doi:10.1186/2045-7022-1-S1-P78