Health Benefits of Asafoetida

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on July 13, 2023
3 min read

Asafoetida originates from India, where it’s also called hing. Used for medicinal purposes and as a seasoning in many dishes, asafoetida has potential health benefits. Here’s how to work it into your diet.

Ferula asafoetida comes from the fennel herb. Many parts of the plant are used in food and medicine. As a seasoning, it gives food an aromatic flavor. Gum resin is taken from the roots of the plant. It is used as a digestive aid, as a condiment, and in pickles.

It has a strong smell that is a mix of sulfur and onions. Adding a lot of this spice to a dish can overwhelm it. Once it cooks down, it takes more like a mild leek or garlic.

In herbal medicine, asafoetida is used to help treat: 

  • Asthma
  • ‌Bronchitis
  • ‌High blood pressure
  • Nervous conditions
  • Whooping cough‌

The gum resin has medicinal properties that may help with: 

  • Muscle spasms (antispasmodic)
  • Intestinal gas (carminative)
  • Cough (expectorant)
  • Constipation (laxative‌)
  • Calming (sedative)

Clinical studies on the health benefits of asafoetida have focused on animals and on human cells. More research is needed on its true effects in humans. It may also affect the blood-thinning medication warfarin, so talk to your doctor if you take it.

There’s a reason people tend to prefer less healthy food: because it’s often more flavorful. Salt and sugar win out over fruits and vegetables when it comes to food choices. That’s why spices are so important in cooking.‌

Spices are derived from plants and herbs, making them a healthier alternative to salt. Spices can make grilled chicken and vegetables more appealing, leading to healthier meal choices.

Understanding antioxidants. Our bodies have millions of processes going on at once. Oxygen fuels all of these. As oxygen is used in our bloodstream, it puts byproducts called oxidants or free radicals.

You can compare free radicals to the process that causes metal to rust. Oxidants lead to cell damage that can affect how your body functions. Damage to your cells is linked to health conditions like cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Antioxidants are important in your diet because they bind to oxidants and prevent damage to your cells. Antioxidant-rich vitamins include:

  • Beta-carotene
  • ‌Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E‌
  • Selenium

Because spices are known to be rich in antioxidants, they’re a great way to stay healthy while enjoying tastier food. Experts recommend aiming for 5 to 9 servings of antioxidant-rich foods each day.

It can take time to get used to the taste of asafoetida. If that spice isn’t one you like, try including other spices in your diet. 

Turmeric. This gives curry its yellow color. Rich in antioxidants, turmeric has anti-inflammatory benefits for your body. Some studies have shown that turmeric is even better at fighting inflammation than anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis. Turmeric may also improve brain function and lower your risk for heart disease and cancer.

Cayenne pepper. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne powder, has been shown to reduce appetite and boost fat burning.

Ginger root. This vegetable is well-known for easing symptoms of nausea. Its anti-inflammatory calming effects can fight stomach discomfort‌.

Garlic. This is one of the most popular spices for cooking. Throughout history, garlic has also been used as a medicine. A compound called allicin gives garlic its unique smell. When eaten, garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and helps fight colds and infections. It also reduces bad cholesterol without affecting good cholesterol. When you cut garlic, let it sit for 10 minutes before eating or cooking so the allicin can fully develop.

Cinnamon. Another popular spice, cinnamon tastes sweet and warm. It’s a great alternative to adding more sugar to your favorite dishes. It can help lower blood sugar levels and helps your heart by lowering triglycerides and lowering bad cholesterol.

Rosemary. This herb is great for boosting memory and reducing stress. In addition to antioxidants, rosemary has antimicrobial properties.