Health Benefits, Side Effects and Culinary Uses of Star Anise Seed

What is Star Anise Seed?

Star anise is one of the main spices that come from the Chinese tree Illicium verum. It is one of the pillar ingredients in Chinese cuisines. It is mainly used to prepare tea, duck roast, and meats, etc.

The spice comes in different shapes and sizes, and star anise is the best example of that. It comes with a star shape, so it is aptly named. Since the name and taste are the same, star anise may be confused with anise seed, but both are separate spices.

Star anise is not only used for culinary uses and gives unique flavor, but it also provides medicinal and health benefits.

It distinguishes the star anise from other culinary herbs and spices because of its dark color, star-shaped appearance, and taste like liquor.

Star anise has long been used as a medicinal remedy for common fevers, bacterial infections, improves the quality of digestion and sleep, and as a mosquito repellent.

Star anise pods are taken before ripening and then dried in the sun until they turn a deep brown or rusty color. The distinctive flavor is derived from anethole, which gives both the same oil licorice flavor found in anise seeds. Here we’ve discussed about the health benefits of star anise.

Medicinal Properties of Star Anise Seed

Medicinal Properties of star anise seed

1. Antiviral Capabilities

Shikimic acid content is one of the most famous pharmacologically relevant properties of star anise. This acid has a firm antiviral capability. It is used as the main ingredient in Tamiflu, which is a famous medication for influenza.

Star anise is the main source of shikimic acid, which is used for pharmaceutical goods improvement.

Since the influenza pandemic continues to pose a threat to global health the need for the star anise also increases.

One test-tube research found that the star anise essential oil can cure some viral infection types like herpes simplex type 1.

Although star anise is often used to treat influenza, further research is required to understand its potential for treating different viral infections in humans.

2. Antibacterial Properties

The next essential medicinal property of star anise is its antibacterial properties. It helps to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Some research found that star anise juice is just as effective as antibiotics and fights against many pathogenic bacteria. It will be beneficial for the future development of new antibiotics.

Test-tube studies found that the star anise bioactive compounds effectively treat urinary tract infections caused by various bacteria.

A separate study found star anise juice to be moderately effective in decreasing E. coli’s growth on a petri dish. However, it is not that much effective as the current antibiotic treatments.

3. Antifungal Properties

The star anise is a great source of flavonoid anethole. This mixture contributes to the unique flavor of the spice and provides powerful antifungal benefits.

Some agricultural research has shown that star anise trans-anethole can help prevent pathogenic fungi’s growth in certain edible crops.

One test-tube research shows that star anise bioactive compounds can support cell wall formation of infectious fungi in humans.

4. Antioxidant properties

Antioxidants properties are substances that help to protect your body from the formation of harmful free radicals. Adding antioxidants in your food can stop chronic disease development. 

Some studies have found that star anise is also effective and fights against cancer cells. 

An animal study found that star anise can decrease tumor, antioxidant pressure and increase the levels of specific enzymes that play a role in preventing cancer.

10 Benefits of Star Anise Seed

For thousands of years, star anise has played the main role of traditional Chinese medicine. Nowadays, some Western medicine has also been taken.

In Asian and South Asian cuisines, star anise aroma and sweet taste are very famous. Its active compounds carry sweet aroma and taste profiles, and it also has many medicinal properties. Its antimicrobial properties and pharmacological potential mostly drive its rise in popularity.

Since star anise is the essential spice in the East, research-based evidence is driven from Asia. Beware, that star anise is also known as anise in the west. Both star anise and anise are different spices, but they contain the same phytonutrients, such as anethole and linalool.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of star anise.

1. Promotes Heart Health

Heart disease is considered as the leading cause of death and accounts for almost a third of all deaths in 2013. Globally, it is one of the significant health concerns for numerous people’s death.

With powerful antioxidants, star anise can help decrease antioxidant pressure, prevent the formation of harmful free radicals, and improve heart health.

Despite the lack of research, some studies have given promising results on the potential benefits of this spice in heart health. A 2015 animal study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that star anise ethanol extracts normalized changes in rat weight, blood pressure, and lipid levels.

Not only that, but it can also decrease plaque buildup in the arteries and reduce many markers of inflammation.

Remember that more research is required, but consuming star anise can keep your heart in good shape to protect from problems like heart disease and stroke.

2. Can Kills Bacteria

Pathogenic bacteria can cause different diseases, from ear infections to urinary tract infections and beyond. Star anise has powerful antibacterial properties that can fight against these harmful strains of bacteria.

A test-tube study proved that star anise juice could help prevent the growth of E. coli, a type of bacteria that can cause a wide range of symptoms such as diarrhea and pneumonia.

In addition, this spice contains many compounds that have also been shown to be antibacterial. Anethole, linalool, and shikimic acid are compounds found in star anise that help fight bacteria.

3. Improve Blood Sugar Level

High blood sugar may create different symptoms, including increased thirst, fatigue, and deliberate weight loss.

If you are not treating high blood sugar, that may cause chronic problems such as kidney failure and nerve damage.

Adding star anise every day with your food will keep your blood sugar under control. Some studies have been shown that this powerful compound is useful to support healthy blood sugar levels. For example, a 2015 animal study outside India found that anethole treatment of rats increased blood sugar by regulating certain key enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism.

Also Read: 10 Scientifically Proven Herbs for Diabetes

4. Supports Digestive System

Star anise is widely used in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine to treat various digestive ailments such as stomach aches, infections, constipation, and indigestion.

Like many spices, star anise has certain amounts of fiber (over 1 gram per tablespoon). The fiber level is high in water, which stimulates the digestive tract and decreases constipation. Fiber also lowers LDL (aka “bad”) cholesterol levels by reducing the reabsorption in the colon with bile salts (made from cholesterol).

The star anise phytonutrients can stimulate the digestive tract. As the spice becomes more famous in the West, research is still young. However, star anise shares many active ingredients with well-researched spices that are cloves, fennel, anise seed, and cinnamon. All the essential oils of those spices contain similar compounds such as de-terpineol, estrogen, pipene, eugenol, linalool, anethole, and limonene.

Anethole can reduce abdominal pain in people who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Also, having powerful antioxidant anethole will reduce the alcohol that may cause stomach ulcers. Moreover, alcohol acts as a reactive oxygen species, and it can create cellular damage.

Science points to anethole as the main antioxidant that reduces stomach ulcers in small animals and reacts directly with alcohol.

The star anise contains some micronutrients that are potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and zinc. These compounds can improve your digestion system and enhance enzymatic function as well as reducing bloating problems.

5. Can Get Off Excess Gas

In addition to boosting the immune system, the star anise oil also has carminative properties. It means releasing excess gas from the body over time. Many problems related to the formation of gas in the body, such as cramps, abdominal pain, indigestion, heartburn, inflammatory gas, etc. can be effectively beaten out in one go for women.

6. Improves the Sex Lives of Women

This benefit is essential for women when they enter in sexual life. If they need more efficiency in their love life, star anise has the answer. One study found that the star anise estrogenic properties can efficiently change hormones in the female body. It is beneficial when they want to have a good time in bed with lovers.

7. Benefits for Skin

Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight damages skin cells and is one of the environmental factors of antioxidant pressure within the body, which increases the risk for skin-related diseases and cancer.

Star anise comes with an antioxidant, anti-microbial, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties that help decrease free radical damage such as skin cells and early signs of aging.

One of the essential structural proteins in the skin is Collagen, responsible for the flexibility and integrity of the cells. Generally, star anise is high in vitamin C and A, strong antioxidant properties that help decrease the oxidative damage in cells.

Vitamin C plays an essential role in producing healthier-looking skin, while Vitamin A replaces damaged skin cells and reduces the appearance of scarring or stretch marks.

Anethole can fight against ROS damage and decrease oxidative stress by increasing 2 (Nrf2) such as glutathione (GSH) and atomic factors.

NRF2 is a transcription factor protein that is used to control antioxidant proteins in humans. GSH is the body’s own natural antioxidant, which is one of the essential ROS gardeners.

Trans-anethole (production of melanin from sunlight) is one of the spices that is used to lighten the skin and decrease pimples by reducing melanogenesis.

Also Read: 10 Best Herbs for Skin

8. Eases Menopause Symptoms

During the menopause, low levels of estrogen, the end of ovulation and menstruation changes the women’s body.

Low estrogen levels can trigger widespread menstrual symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, hot flashes, joints, and muscle aches. These symptoms can lead to heart disease and osteoporosis.

Many women are concerned about the adverse side effects of prescription drugs and hormones, and they are starting to focus on natural/herbal remedies. Star anise has the answer.

Anethole imitates estrogen and also provide some effect of this powerful sex hormone. Human experiments have shown that anethole-based spices decreased hot flashes by 75% in 72 women compared to the drug test.

Reduced bone loss, or osteoporosis, is another symptom of menopause. Anethole spice can help diminish bone loss and fight against osteoporosis.

9. Improves Sleep

Stress and depression are the two main reasons for sleeplessness. It is called insomnia. Elevated involvement of the mind increases epinephrine levels, which stimulate the senses and inhibit sleep.

Star anise contains anesthetic properties and can alter the levels of certain neurotransmitters and hormones involved. It is the unique property of the star anise that improves some chemical levels from one to another. Star anise essential oil contains aromatherapeutic effect smell like licorice.

By adding star anise every day in your diet, you can sleep peacefully.

Also Read: Herbs To Boost Sleep

10. Promotes Bone Health

It’s anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties can increase organ and tissue function, and bone strength. In North America millions of people are affected by low bone density. Low bone density may lead to osteoporosis.

Star anise is a great source of manganese, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium that helps to make your bone strengthen.Osteoporosis is a major symptom of menopausal women that results from a decrease in estrogen levels.

Also Read: Herbal Plants for Bone Health

Culinary Uses of Star Anise

Star anise is widely used in Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine, just like bay leaves. When used whole, star anise pods are simplified into soups, stews, and braces.

It goes well with tasty recipes with citrus, chicken, and beef, which adds a distinctive sweet licorice-like flavor to dishes.

Ground star anise is more powerful and can be added in small quantities to foods and baked goods.

In Indian cuisine, it is commonly used in spice pot garam masala and chai tea. You can use the star anise as a powder or whole.

Star anise is immersed in water to prepare tea to heal constipation, respiratory infections, nausea, and digestive problems, in traditional Chinese and folk medicine practices.

It is also an excellent supplement to desserts and sweets like muffins, baked fruit, quick bread, and pies.

Remember to go a little farther if you have never tried this spice before in your cooking endeavors. Start with a small quantity then add more to taste to avoid overuse.

Star Anise vs. Anise Seed

star anise vs anise seeds

As the name and taste are similar, the star anise and anise seed are often confused. Both have anethole that produces the aroma and tastes like licorice.  Both come from two different families and have various features. 

Anise is a genus of plants from the Apiaceae family and belongs to both the Mediterranean and southwestern Asia. The plant provides white flowers and an elongated fruit called anise seed. It is widely used in everything from tea to desserts, even liquor.

While star anise comes from an evergreen tree that appears in Vietnam and China, apart from the culinary uses,

Star anise and oil are also found in toothpaste, mouthwash, skin cream, and some medicines.

Even though they have some differences, both can be used interchangeably in some dishes. Both can offer the same smell and taste.

Nutritional Values of Star Anise Seed

100 grams of star anise contains the following,

Total Fat16 kg
Carbohydrates50 g
Protein18 g
Dietary fiber15 g
Manganese2.3 mg
Calcium646 mg
Iron36.96 mg
Magnesium170 mg
Copper0.91 mg
Potassium1441 mg
Phosphorus 440 mg
Zinc 5.3 mg
Selenium 5 mg
Sodium16 mg

Possible Side Effects

For centuries, star anise has been part of traditional medicines, and it is safe to consume. However, excessive use of this spice can cause some adverse effects.

Ensure that you use Chinese star anise, not Japanese star anise. The Japanese version is inedible and actually poisonous when ingested orally.

Its neurotoxins may create hallucinations, nausea, and seizures for some people. In addition, there have been case reports of hard, dangerous reactions to star anise in children. That’s why it is not suggested for infants and children.

To proceed with caution, it is better to check the source of the star anise you are buying, which is purely Chinese type.
If you are not 100% sure about the source or purity of the star anise, then don’t consume.

Some of the active ingredients in the star anise create health benefits, while others may cause adverse effects. For example, its anethole mimics estrogen cause some hormonal imbalances within the body.

Finally, star anise is a fragrant spice. However, some people may be allergic to it or maybe allergic to licorice-flavored and flavored products.

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