Know the health benefits of Star Anise that make it a must in your diet!

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Star anise is a spice that must be included in our diets as it has great medicinal properties. Here are the health benefits of star anise.

We have all come across this rather interesting star-shaped spice on our kitchen shelves. However, if you have been wondering what this is, and where you can use this spice, then you have come to the right place! Not only does star anise give a great flavour to all our dishes, you will be surprised to know that it does a lot more than that! Know the health benefits of star anise and why you should add it to your diet.

Star anise comes with a host of health benefits such as treating infections, fighting inflammatory conditions as well as setting hormonal balances. Health Shots got in touch with Dietitian Veena V who tells us why we must include star anise in our food, and how we can use it.

What is star anise?

This is a star-shaped spice that has its roots in China. While it is sweet in taste, it is used to enhance flavours of savoury dishes. It has also been used as a Chinese medicine since years. “Star anise is a spice that used in various types of dishes. Its distinctive licorice-like flavour adds depth to both sweet and savoury dishes. It is often added as a whole to soups, stews, and braising broths, to which it adds a sweet- licorice-peppery flavour,” says Veena.

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What is the nutritional value of star anise?

One tablespoon of star anise is rich in the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 7
  • Total fat: 0.3 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 0.3 mg
  • Potassium: 30.3 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 1.1 g
  • Dietary fiber: 0.3 g
  • Protein: 0.4 g
  • Calcium: 1 percent
  • Iron: 4 percent
Woman cooking food
There are many dishes that star anise can be added to, to enhance the taste. Image Courtesy: Freepik

Medical benefits of star anise

There are a host of medicinal benefits that star anise provides.

1. Fights inflammatory conditions/disorders

Star anise is a great spice for fighting infections. According to this study, published in Infection and Drug Resistance, star anise has been found to be effective in curing persistent infections, which include bacterial skin infections.

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2. Maintains hormonal balance

Star anise contains anethole, which is a compound that has the same effect of estrogen in our body. This really helps Star anise to regulate menstrual cramps and manage other hormonal changes.

A woman experiencing pain and fatigue while on her period.
Star anise helps in hormonal balance and is also effective in getting rid of period pain. Image courtesy: Freepik

3. Reduces oxidative stress

Star anise is packed with good antioxidants such as quercetin and linalool, these can fight against the free radicals by protecting the cells and reducing the oxidative stress.

How is star anise used in food?

Star anise can be used in different foods to add a variety of flavours. It is often used to infuse liquids such as tea, syrups, and spirits. “It gives a different aroma and taste to beverages like chai tea and mulled wine. Whole star anise or ground star anise is added to soups and broths to enhance flavour. It is also a key ingredient in the popular Chinese five-spice powder,” says Veena.

Besides this, it is used for braising and stewing. “Star anise is sometimes included in pickle recipes to provide a subtle hint of its unique flavour. It is also used in preserving fruits and chutneys. Some curry recipes and spice blends incorporate star anise to create a well-rounded and aromatic flavour profile. Sometimes in biryani as well,” she says.

Ground star anise can be used in baking, adding a distinct taste to cookies, cakes, and bread. Star anise is a flavourful addition to marinades, particularly for meats like chicken and duck. It helps tenderise the meat and infuse it with a delightful taste.

What are the side effects of using too much star anise?

Nothing in excess is good, not even star anise. There are some risks associated with consuming too much of this spice. It needs to be used in moderation, otherwise it can cause allergic reactions, seizures, hallucinations, and nausea. Besides this, overdosing on star anise, can have a blood-thinning effect on your body, and it can also affect your blood sugar levels.

So make sure you are eating it in moderation, and don’t forget to check with your doctor to know whether or not this spice is good for your health.

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