Is Fennel Gluten Free? (Yes, Here’s Why)

Is Fennel Gluten Free

Almost everyone knows that eating fruits and vegetables is good for you. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can be protective against some of the most common diseases and health problems. Many health-conscious home cooks try to include new and interesting vegetables, like fennel, in their diets. However, some people are intolerant to gluten and must avoid it. Are vegetables like fennel gluten-free?

Yes, fennel is gluten-free. All vegetables and fruits are naturally gluten-free. However, if you are avoiding gluten, you need to know how your vegetables are prepared to avoid cross-contamination. Fennel is a less commonly consumed vegetable but is very high in powerful nutrients. Other vegetable powerhouses include collard greens, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, garlic, and Swiss chard.

Some people are sensitive to gluten and need to avoid all gluten ingredients. The good news is that nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables like fennel can be part of a healthy gluten-free diet. Ready to learn more?

What is Fennel?

Fennel is a member of the carrot family. It is a flowing perennial herb that is native to the Mediterranean coast. It is very flavorful and has a delightful aroma. It’s often used in cooking.

The entire plant – bulb, stalks, and fronds are all edible and delicious. Dried fennel is an anise-flavored spice. The leaves of the fennel look similar to dill leaves. Some say raw fennel has a taste similar to licorice.

Fennel bulbs are crispy and can be eaten raw or steamed, grilled, sautéed, or stewed. Young fennel leaves are used in salads, as garnishes, and to flavor sauces and soups. Fennel shoots can be eaten raw like celery stalks.

If you don’t care for raw fennel’s pungent taste, you should definitely try it cooked. Cooking fennel transforms the taste into something else entirely. It becomes sweeter and yet still earthy.

Nutritional Per 1 fennel bulb (235 grams):

  • 72 Calories
  • 9 g Protein
  • 5 g Fat
  • 17 g Carbohydrate
  • 7 g Dietary Fiber
  • 9 g Sugars
  • 115 mg Calcium
  • 7 mg Iron
  • 40 mg Magnesium
  • 188 mg Phosphorous
  • 973 mg Potassium
  • 122 mg Sodium
  • 0 mg Cholesterol
  • Trace Amounts of Copper, Zinc, and Selenium, Vitamin C, Choline, B Vitamins, Folate, Beta Carotene, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Phosphorous, Manganese, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K
  • Natural Estrogens

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in some grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley. Its inclusion in recipes results in a soft, chewy, yummy texture in many of our favorite grain-based foods. It’s most frequently found in bread, pasta, and cereals.

The foods that most frequently contain gluten include:

  • Bread
  • Whole wheat
  • Wheat bran matzo
  • Wheat germ cracked wheat
  • Spelt
  • Couscous
  • Farro
  • Bulgur
  • Semolina
  • Crackers
  • Bread
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Pasta
  • Seitan
  • Soba noodles
  • Barley malt
  • Soy sauce
  • Gravies and sauces
  • Spice blends
  • Beer
  • Some wines
  • Cookies
  • Pastries
  • Many other foods and beverages

Gluten is sometimes added to foods to improve their texture and to keep the food moist. Gluten has gotten a bad name in the last few decades. However, not everyone needs to avoid gluten.

Who Needs to Avoid Gluten?

Those with Celiac disease and those who have a wheat allergy, or are gluten-sensitive should avoid all foods with gluten. For those people, even a small amount of gluten can cause an immune response that harms the lining of the small intestines.

The harm to the lining of the small intestines leads to the malabsorption of nutrients in the food a person eats. This can lead to many other problems, including nerve damage, osteoporosis, seizures, and other diseases and harmful conditions.

What Does a Gluten-Free Diet Look Like?

A gluten-free diet can include lots of delicious foods. Fresh foods like fruits and vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, dairy products, meats, fish and poultry are all good options.

Although many people avoiding gluten believe they must avoid all grains, not all grains contain gluten. The following grains and starches are allowable on a gluten-free diet:

  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Teff
  • Soy
  • Tapioca
  • Flax
  • Corn
  • Buckwheat
  • Hominy
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Rice
  • Tapioca
  • Sorghum
  • Rice, soy, corn, potato, and bean flours

In turn, the following foods are some of those that must be avoided by those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities:

  • Rye
  • Wheat
  • Barley

Again, fresh fruits and vegetables should be a cornerstone of a healthy gluten-free diet. Vegetables like fennel are naturally gluten-free.

What are some benefits of fennel?

Fennel is delicious and nutritious. It really is an underappreciated vegetable by most. Here are a few key attributes of fennel:

Fennel is good for your heart

There are several reasons that fennel is a heart-healthy food. It’s cholesterol-free and contains many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are protective for your heart.

The potassium in fennel is supportive of heart health. Some studies have shown that those who consumed just over 4,000 mg of potassium per day had a nearly 50% lower chance of death from certain heart diseases compared to those who consumed less than 2,000 mg of potassium per day.

Fiber helps decrease the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol in the body. Because fennel is high in fiber, it’s good for your heart.

Homocysteine in your blood can lead to damage to your blood vessels and therefore to heart disease. The folate and Vitamin B in fennel may lower homocysteine levels in the blood, thereby protective your blood vessels.

Fennel is good for your bones

The vitamins and minerals in fennel, like phosphate, calcium, iron, zinc, and manganese may help maintain bone health.

Phosphate and calcium are important in maintaining the integrity of your bones. Manganese is important for the formation of healthy bone cells. And Zinc and Iron support collagen health and healthy collagen support healthy bones.

Fennel helps to lower your blood pressure

Studies suggest that potassium, magnesium, and calcium may help to naturally decrease blood pressure in adults. Fennel contains a significant amount of these minerals.

Potassium helps with blood pressure by helping to dilate the blood vessels. Very few people get the recommended 4700 mg per day of Potassium. Consuming fennel makes it much easier to get your RDA of Potassium.

Fennel’s powerful minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants are protective against cancer

The vitamins A, C, and beta-carotene help protect our cells from free radical damage that can lead to cancer formation. Fennel is loaded with these vitamins.

Selenium found in fennel may decrease the rate of cancer tumor growth. It also may help detoxify certain cancer-causing agents from your cells.

The fiber in fennel is excellent for your body in numerous ways. It helps reduce the risk of colorectal cancer as well.

Fennel is good for your skin

Fennel is high in Vitamin C, which is wonderful for your skin. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps prevent free radical damage caused by sun exposure, pollution, and more. Vitamin C also promotes collagen growth. Collagen helps keep your skin smooth and more youthful.

Fennel may help lower inflammation in the body

Fennel is a wonderful source of Choline. Choline helps reduce inflammation in the body. Some studies show Choline is very effective in Asthma, which is an inflammatory disease. Choline is also promising in reducing inflammation caused by oxidative stress in allergic airway disease.

Fennel may help with weight loss and with digestion

Fennel is high in fiber which helps contribute to satiety. When someone feels full longer, they usually eat fewer calories in the long run. The fiber in foods like fennel can help those trying to lose or maintain their weight.

The fiber in fennel can is good for your digestion and can help keep you regular.

Fennel is a good source of estrogen

The estrogen in fennel may be helpful for those facing infertility problems. Estrogen is crucial to regulating the female reproductive system and therefore is crucial to fertility.

The estrogen in fennel can help relieve menstrual symptoms. For post-menopausal women, estrogen levels naturally reduce which can lead to weight gain and other unpleasant conditions. The natural estrogen in fennel can help reduce the impact of low estrogen levels.

The estrogen in fennel may also promote breast milk production and supply in breastfeeding mothers.

Alternative Powerhouse Vegetables

While fennel is a phenomenal source of powerful nutrients, not everyone likes the taste of fennel. Thankfully, there are several more vegetables that contain many of the same nutrients as fennel. Like fennel, some of the less frequently consumed but superstar vegetables include:

  • Collard greens are a very nutritious vegetable. Collard greens are rich in calcium, which promotes bone health, your heart, and more. These greens also contain high levels of antioxidants that fight free radicals and may help prevent diseases such as cancer.
  • Asparagus is a delicious and powerful choice. One cup of asparagus provides more than half of your folate for the day. It also provides thiamin, riboflavin, selenium, and vitamin K.
  • Swiss chard is another green that contains essential nutrients. Swiss chard is high in fiber, vitamins C, K, and A, as well as minerals magnesium and manganese. One study shows that Swiss chard may even help reverse diabetes. Other studies have shown that Swiss chard extract can help protect diabetics from damage to their liver and kidneys.
  • Brussels sprouts are delightful little cruciferous veggies. Brussels sprouts contain a unique and powerful antioxidant called kaempferol. Kaempferol helps prevent cell damage which contributes to diseases, including cancer. Brussels sprouts are also high in potassium, manganese, folate, and vitamins K, A, and C.
  • Garlic is a popular bulb used in dishes around the world. Studies have shown garlic to be beneficial to your heart and vascular system.


Fennel is an amazing, delicious vegetable that is naturally gluten-free. In fact, all vegetables and fruits are gluten-free. However, gluten is often added to vegetables like fennel in cooking. It’s important to ask questions about the preparation of your food.

Fennel is loaded with powerful antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are enormously helpful to our bodies. Fennel’s natural nutrients may be beneficial for heart health, lowering blood pressure, cancer prevention, healthy bones, beautiful skin, and more.

If you don’t care for fennel or want to try other lesser consumed but highly nutritious vegetables, there are many. Collard greens, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus are examples of alternative nutritious vegetables to try.

Related Questions

Is fennel invasive in a garden?

Yes, it can be. Fennel is a plant that lives for a long period of time. It also is easy to grow from seed. If fennel roots are not removed from the soil, it will regrow itself the following year. You can also save the seeds from the fennel plant to plant elsewhere.

Can fennel be transferred?

Yes, a fennel plant’s seeds can be transferred to other regions by people, water, birds, and other animals. Thus, it can easily show up somewhere that a human never planted fennel. Further, once fennel gets established in an area, it can be difficult to control. It can easily take over and crowd out other plants, so it does require effort to manage.

Can I substitute other ingredients for fennel in a recipe?

Yes. For a recipe including a fennel bulb, you can use Bok choy, leek, or celery. All are similar in texture and will work well as a substitute to the fennel bulb. If your recipe includes the leaves of fennel, you can substitute dill or cilantro. Dill is the closest in texture and appearance to fennel leaves. Substitutes for fennel seed include star anise and cumin seeds. Star Anise has the closest flavor to Fennel seed.

What is fennel tea?

Fennel tea is made from steeping crushed fennel seeds in hot water. Fennel tea tastes similar to green tea and like green tea, is full of beneficial antioxidants. Benefits of drinking fennel tea may include relief from irritable bowel syndrome, protection from various fungal and bacterial infections, reduction in bothersome premenstrual and postmenopausal symptoms, and other women’s health issues. If you take estrogen medications you should consult a physician before drinking fennel tea.

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Kristy Griffin

K.D. Griffin is a freelance writer and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is passionate about healthy foods, and helping others live well by caring for the body, mind and soul. She’s living the good life in Louisiana with her husband and two teenage children.

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