ABSTRACT

The most widely used species of Trigonella for both medicinal and culinary purposes is Trigonella foenum-graecum L., or fenugreek. Fenugreek is an annual plant, extensively cultivated as a food crop in India, the Mediterranean region, North Africa and Yemen. Fenugreek seeds are well known for their pungent aromatic properties (Max, 1992). As a spice, they are a component of many curry preparations (Parry, 1943) and are often used to flavour food and stimulate appetite. Chronic oral administration of ethanolic fenugreek extract (10 mg/day per 300 g body weight) significantly increases food intake and the motivation to eat in rats (Petit et al., 1993), which might be related to the aromatic properties of the seeds (Girardon et al., 1985). Fenugreek seeds are used in India as a condiment, in Egypt as a supplement to wheat and maize flour for breadmaking, and in Yemen it is one of the main constituents of the normal daily diet of the general population. Fenugreek leaves are widely consumed in India as a green, leafy vegetable, and are a rich source of calcium, iron, B-carotene and other vitamins (Sharma, 1986b).