From its unmistakable aroma to its unique star-shaped appearance, the benefits of star anise are truly a unique species of its kind. In addition, it is not only very versatile and full of flavor, but also contains a number of compounds that can help improve your health. Not to be confused with the benefits of anise seed, the benefits of star anise include killing bacteria and fungi, naturally fighting the flu, increasing heart health, providing a concentrated dose of antioxidants and keeping blood sugar levels constant. Along with a nutritious diet and an active lifestyle, adding this powerful ingredient to your diet may be just what you need to take your health to the next level.
Benefits of Star Anise:
1. Kill the Bacteria:
Pathogenic bacteria can cause a variety of ailments, ranging from infections of the ear to infections and urinary tract. Star anise has been shown to possess powerful antibacterial properties and may be beneficial to protect against these harmful strains of bacteria. One study showed that star anise extract was able to help block the growth of E. coli, a type of bacteria that can cause a wide range of symptoms, such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Another study assured that this spice exhibited antibacterial activities against 67 strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria. In addition, this spice also contains several compounds that have also been shown to be antibacterial. Anethole, linalool and shikimic acid are all compounds found in star anise and are reported to help fight bacteria.
2. It is Rich in Antioxidants:
Antioxidants are substances that can protect against free radical formation harmful in the body. Getting enough antioxidants in your diet can also combat oxidative stress, which can prevent the progression of chronic disease. Thanks to its high antioxidant content, some studies have even found that the benefits of star anise can also be effective against cancer cells. In an animal study, it was found that it reduces tumor burden and oxidative stress, in addition to increasing the levels of specific enzymes that play a role in cancer prevention. However, research is limited, and more studies are needed to determine how antioxidants found in star anise can affect human health.
3. Avoid Fungal Infections:
In addition to killing the pathogenic strains of bacteria, some research also shows that star anise pods also possess powerful antifungal properties. Fungal infections are often more difficult to treat and can occur in a variety of ways, from yeast infections to athlete’s foot and itching in the athlete. According to a study, the extract star anise and essential oil were effective against Candida albicans, a type of fungus that is responsible for causing infections by fungi.
4. May Increase Heart Health:
Qualified as the leading cause of death and responsible for almost a third of all deaths in 2013, it is clear that heart disease is a major health concern for millions of people worldwide. Full of potent antioxidants, the benefits of star anise can help reduce oxidative stress, prevent the accumulation of harmful free radicals and help improve heart health. Although research is limited, some studies have shown promising results on the potential benefits of this spice in heart health. In an animal study, a star anise ethanol extract was found to help normalize changes in weight, blood pressure and lipid levels in mice fed a high-fat diet. Not only that, but it also reduced plaque buildup in the arteries and also decreased several markers of inflammation. Keep in mind that more research is needed, but adding star anise to a healthy diet and lifestyle can keep your heart in good shape to protect against problems such as heart disease and stroke.
5. He is a Fighter Against the Natural Flu:
Chills, fever, muscle aches and fatigue: if you are like most people, you are probably very familiar with the dreaded list of symptoms that begin to appear just before a full-fledged case of flu. The next time you feel bad about the weather, you may want to prepare a cup of star anise tea for a quick boost of the power to fight the flu. Star anise contains a compound called shikimic acid, which is commonly found in medications used to treat the flu, such as Tamiflu. One study found that the combination of shikimic acid with quercetin, a type of natural plant pigment, could significantly increase the production of immune cells compared to treatment with Tamiflu.
6. Could Help Regulate Blood Sugar:
The high level of blood sugar can cause a long list of symptoms of diabetes, from increased thirst to difficulty concentrating, fatigue and even unintentional weight loss. If left untreated, hyperglycemia can even contribute to more serious long-term problems, such as kidney failure and nerve damage.
“Adding star anise to your routine can help keep blood sugar under control, thanks to the presence of anethole”.
Some studies have found that this powerful compound could be beneficial for maintaining normal blood sugar levels. In an animal study, for example, it was discovered that treating rats with anethole improves blood sugar by regulating some of the key enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Of course, more than just one or two tablespoons of star anise pods are needed to regulate blood sugar levels. For best results, try pairing one or two servings with a balanced diet and an active lifestyle.
Star Anise Nutrition:
In addition to its strong flavor, star anise is also full of beneficial compounds that can have a powerful effect on health. Some of the compounds found in this spice include:
Linalool: This natural terpenic alcohol has been shown to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Vitamin C: In addition to being rich in antioxidants, vitamin C promotes immune health and protects against infections and diseases.
Shikimic acid: Not only is this compound a common ingredient in many flu medications, but it can also have potent antibacterial properties.
Anethole: Also found in anise and fennel seeds, this aromatic compound is believed to help fight cancer, diabetes and inflammation while preserving brain health.
Precautions and Side Effects:
Although it is related to many health benefits and is generally considered a safe way to add flavor to food, star anise should be used sparingly to avoid negative side effects. Be sure to use Chinese star anise and not Japanese star anise. The Japanese version is inedible and actually poisonous if consumed orally. It is believed that some products containing star anise, such as teas, are contaminated with small amounts of Japanese star anise. For this reason, this spice is not recommended for infants and children as it has been associated with a series of adverse symptoms, such as vomiting and seizures, due to contamination. Nor is there sufficient evidence to determine the safety of this spice in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Stay on the safe side and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. Finally, if you experience negative side effects or food allergy symptoms after consuming star anise, discontinue use immediately and consult a trusted health professional.
What Do You Do with Star Anise and What are its Uses?
Highly versatile and tasty, there is a good chance that you’ve tried star anise before, even if you didn’t know. It is one of the main components of the five-spice powder, gives Vietnamese pho its characteristic flavor and is even a secret ingredient in some baked goods and desserts. There are infinite uses of star anise if it is just beginning. You can try to prepare a comforting cup of hot star anise tea the next time the temperature drops, add it to your favorite Chinese-inspired dishes or pour it into a bubbling pot of stew to infuse its powerful flavor. It can be crushed and used as a spice or it can be used together to deepen the flavor and aroma of soup, stew, coffee or broth. In addition, their sweet nuances can balance tasty dishes or even help amplify the taste of sweets and desserts. Star anise oil is also available and is commonly used as a natural preservative and to help relieve digestive problems.
What is Star Anise?
Star anise comes from Illicium verum , a type of evergreen tree native to certain parts of Vietnam and China. The tree produces a fruit known as star anise that is used as a spice to add flavor to a variety of dishes. The fruit is collected before ripening and then dried in the sun to harden. It is characterized by its distinctive star shape, reddish orange color and strong aroma. The taste of star anise is often described as sweet and licorice. It is considered a key ingredient in five spice powder, a spice mixture used in Chinese cuisine that also includes cloves, Chinese cinnamon, fennel seeds and Sichuan pepper, and is also added to other spice mixtures such as garam masala. Fruit oil is also commonly found in mouthwashes, perfumes, toothpaste and cosmetics. It contains many medicinal compounds that contribute to its long list of health benefits. In fact, much of the production of this plants is now used for the extraction of shikimic acid, the active ingredient in flu medications such as Tamiflu. It also contains several other potent compounds, such as linalool, vitamin C and anethole.
Wondering Where to Buy Star Anise?
Thanks to its growing popularity, you can often find this versatile spice in many major supermarkets, whether in the spice or Asian kitchen aisle. It is also widely available in Asian specialty stores, as well as online. Once your spice rack is completely full and ready to start, you can start adding it to your soups, hot drinks, desserts and more favorites.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Star Anise:
- Star anise is the fruit of Illicium verum, a type of perennial tree native to China and Vietnam.
- With a flavor similar to licorice, it is one of the main powdered ingredients of five spices and also appears in many traditional dishes, such as Vietnamese pho.
- It contains compounds such as linalool, vitamin C, shikimic acid and anethole, which contribute to its many health benefits.
- Packed with antioxidants, this spice can help improve heart health, stabilize blood sugar, prevent bacteria and fungi, and help fight the flu.
- Add it to your favorite hot drinks, casseroles, baked goods or savory dishes for a boost of flavor and health benefits.