If you consider fenugreek just a spice used in Indian cuisine, you’re missing out, but in a really big way. Not only can you use fenugreek in quite every possible culinary delicacy but also to smooth skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. So, no need for that filter.

From combating spots to preventing signs of premature ageing read on to find out the in what ways fenugreek uncrowns the queen of skin care, vitamin A.

What is fenugreek

Fenugreek is an annual, clover-like plant in the family Fabaceae, so it’s related to soy, peas, and peanuts. The herb is native to Asia and the Mediterranean. The fresh and dried seeds of this legume have been used as a spice. It has small leafy greens that are made up of three small oblong leaflets. The greens can be used direr or fresh. The pods containing small flat square-shaped yellow golden seeds are used as spice or for medicinal purposes.

If you were impressed by Indian chicken curry or lentil stew and wondered why you couldn’t replicate it at home, well, that’s because of the fenugreek seeds. They have a sweet, nutty flavour that reminds you of maple syrup and burnt sugar.

Fenugreek seeds, photo by Peyman Zehtab Fard

If you bite into a whole seed or over cook it, it can taste incredibly bitter and rancid. But cooked and combined with other spices it transforms a dish, giving it sweetness and depth. The seeds have another function in that they can act as a food stabiliser and emulsifier (that is bind oil and water together).

The leaves can be used fresh or dried. They also have the ambrosial flavour and taste similar to celery. But unlike the seeds, they won’t make the dish taste bitter.

Fenugreek leaves, photo by heymrleej

If you wonder about its distinctive maple syrup flavour, that’s due to Sotolon, a powerful aroma compound. On a side note, when artificial maple syrup is manufactured, Sotolon is one of several aromatic components. It’s also present in molasses and aged rum.

The name fenugreek comes from Latin and really literally means Greek hay. But if have trouble finding it in your local grocers, you can easily find it in a Middle Eastern or Indian store. There, look for “Methi”.


Aside from being used in the kitchen, fenugreek is one of the oldest medicinal plants. It’s used both in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine.

You can also find fenugreek extracts in

  • Soaps
  • Cosmetics
  • Teas

As you probably have guessed from its meaning in Latin, Greek hay, it was also used as fodder. Fenugreek is also used for dying textiles. This may be a bit unexpected but some even road and grind it to make a coffee-like drink.


Fenugreek contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants. Some of it includes

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B9 (folate)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Soluble and insoluble fibre

As part of the family Fabaceae, it also has phytoestrogens similar to soy.

Why use it on your skin?

Fenugreek has natural anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Altogether, it boosts your skin health.

Combat spots

With its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, fenugreek can help you combat spots

Combat signs of ageing

Not only does fenugreek contain antioxidants it also has phytoestrogens. The antioxidants ward off damage caused by the sun, cigarette smoke, or pollution while the phytoestrogens boost your skin’s repair system and delay sagging skin.

Even out skin tone

Not only can vitamin B3 repair already damaged skin cells and regenerate new ones, it also helps even out skin tone. The natural saponins and phenolic compounds further enhances its effects and as a result, you get younger looking skin with less dark spots.

Deep cleanse

The natural saponins and phenolic compounds present make fenugreek a gentle but effective cleanser. It removes oil and accumulated debris from your skin, leaving it bright and plump.

Danger zone

If you’re allergic to peanuts, peas, soy, or other legumes, you should also avoid fenugreek. Also, you may want to be cautious, since fenugreek can act similar to estroegen in the body.


If you find dried leaves and seeds, store them in an airtight container, in a dark, cool place so that they don’t lose their aroma. They’ll keep for a few months like this. If a recipe (for a face pack or for a dish) calls for ground fenugreek seeds, it’s best to only crush or grind them when needed.

Fresh fenugreek leaves keep in the fridge for a few days.

Don’t try to substitute the seeds with the leaves or vice versa. Fresh fenugreek leaves are a vegetable just like spinach and have a totally different cooking purpose than the seeds. Or would you substitute coriander seeds with coriander leaves when you cook?

Wrapping up

Fenugreek leaves and seeds do wonders for your health and for your skin. The seeds are probably more readily available than the fresh leaves. You can easily make a rejuvenating face pack with the seeds. All you need is

  • 1 table spoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 table spoon yogurt

Soak the seeds in water for 8 hours or overnight. Strain the seeds but don’t drain the water, I’ll come to the left over fenugreek seed water in a bit. Blend the seeds with the yogurt and apply to your face. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes then rinse off.

This face mask helps to strengthen the connective tissue to support elasticity. It encourages cellular turnover and new cell growth. It helps lift dark spots leaving you with a radiant and more youthful complexion. As an added boon, it cleanses any impurities before they surface, helping to keep your skin clear and flawless.

Now to the left over fenugreek seed water. Rinse your hair with it to get relieve dry and flaky scalp.

Use Fenugreek Instead Of A Photo Filter To Smooth Skin

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