Typically, when most people think of vitamin C, they think of oranges, lemons, or perhaps even strawberries. There are so many more fruits and vegetables that are excellent sources of vitamin C. Fennel is one of them. In the winter, I emphasize the importance of vitamin C intake because it helps strengthen the immune system, but it's not just in the chilly flu season that we need an immune boost.
Getting physically sick is only one way to run down the immune system. There's another way, the big lion-in-the-room way, that can have deleterious effects on one's immunity. What is this figurative lion I speak of?
Stress. dun, dun, DUN! Whether it's adrenal fatigue (the adrenals play such an important role in immune system strength), sleep deprivation, a hectic schedule, or even things like marathon training, any stress on the body can take it's toll. The more we stress, the bigger we must make our deposits into the vitamin C bank. Vitamin C is needed for the production of adrenal hormones, like cortisol. When we stress our bodies, our adrenals quickly burn through this precious vitamin. Keep in mind that it is water soluble (meaning you pee it out instead of storing it), so it's important to spread your vitamin C intake throughout the day. Not only will it be available for the production of adrenal hormones, but it will also be useful in actually lessening cortisol spikes. If you get enough vitamin C and all goes well, you'll be stronger and calmer. Sounds pretty good to me!
Fennel is a great source of fiber, and it helps to promote a healthy digestive system, including a clean colon and the proliferation of friendly flora. When we juice, we strip the fiber away, but I have good news for you: fennel is amazing to eat, too! Try shaving it thinly on a salad (my preferred method), grilling it, or baking it with a balsamic glaze. I've even made a lasagna with fennel in it.
Some other nutrients that you'll pack into your soon-to-be glowing body with this juice are:
- Potassium- If you have heart problems or high blood pressure, consuming more potassium and less sodium is crucial. In general, more potassium and less sodium lead to more vibrant health.
- Folate- It's not just potassium that will help protect your heart. Folate (like B12) helps lower homocysteine levels in the blood. High homocysteine has been linked to cardiovascular disease as well as brain disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Also, if you're feeling really grumpy or suffering from depression, a little bit of extra folate in your diet might help cheer you up!
- Calcium- when we think of getting calcium as vegans, we think of sesame seeds, leafy greens, and beans, but fennel has a decent amount of calcium, too. It won't give you your daily recommended dose of calcium, or even ½ of it, but it will move you toward your target. Isn't that what healthy living is all about, after all? It's not about eating one thing – or swallowing one pill – that will give your body everything it needs just so that you can eat foods for the rest of the day that are useless to you. It's about nourishing yourself with every meal by focusing on the foods that were intended for your body.
Now that you know a thing or two about what makes this vegetable so irresistible, it's time for juice!
-1 large bulb of fennel, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter*
-1 large gala apple
-1/2 large cucumber (or 1 small cucumber)
-2 stalks of celery
-1 small orange, peeled
-Run all ingredients through your juicer and serve.
*If your fennel bulb has the stalks and fronds still attached, you can use those for juices, too.