Star anise is a fruit of a tree called Illicium verum, it is called a star for its beautiful star shape. Due to its sweet aromatic flavour, star anise is popularly used in culinary preparations as a spice. Apart from providing flavour to dishes, star anise also comes with many health and medicinal benefits.
In this article, let’s discuss some of the health benefits that star anise offers.
- Boosts Immunity - Star anise possess excellent anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-viral properties which contribute to warding off infections, bacterias and foreign pathogens. It contains shikimic acid, which is popularly used in the manufacture of certain anti-viral vaccines. Its anti-fungal property comes from a flavonoid anethole. Star anise also inhibits the growth of certain bacterias which prevents us from falling sick, hence boosting immune health.
- Packed with Antioxidants - Star anise has a wide antioxidant profile. It contains beta-caryophyllene, which is a compound with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Several studies have demonstrated the brain-calming effect of beta-caryophyllene in relieving the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. Similarly, star anise contains another antioxidant - linalool which further increases the production of vitamin E in our body.
- Rich in Nutrients - Star anise naturally comes with the benefits of many vitamins like vitamin A, C, E, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and pyridoxine. It also has minerals like iron, calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium, potassium, selenium and manganese.
- Aids in Digestion - This spice has also been in use since traditional times to treat certain digestive ailments like constipation, indigestion, abdominal pain, etc. Due to the presence of a significant amount of dietary fibre, star anise stimulates digestion, keeps our colon healthy, promotes good gut microbial balance and prevents bad cholesterol build up in the body.
- Promotes Healthy Heart Functioning - Regular use of star anise is also beneficial for our heart functioning. It contains certain phytonutrients which are anti-inflammatory in nature. In addition, the presence of potassium and calcium boosts heart functioning by dilating the blood vessels, improving blood flow and strengthening heart walls.
- Anti-Inflammatory - Star anise has been shown to reduce inflammation by suppressing the levels of certain inflammation-causing cytokines like tumour-necrosis factor and interleukin 6. Hence, it provides relief from joint pain, inflammation, muscle soreness, joint stiffness, swelling and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Boost Brain Health - Star anise is loaded with potential compounds which boost our brain health. It acts as an antidepressant, fights inflammation, oxidative stress, free radicals and stress. All these factors have shown to affect our brain health adversely and might cause a decline in neurological functioning. Therefore, regular consumption of star anise has a favourable effect on our brain.
To sum up, we can say that star anise is a star when it comes to benefiting our health and body. To reap its benefits, make sure to opt for a Chinese variety and not Japanese. It is because Japanese star anise has some neurotoxins, therefore, considered inedible. In some clinical trials, star anise has also been shown to elevate prolactin levels in the body, therefore, females with existing hormonal imbalance in the body should avoid excessive use of the same.
Star anise has a distinct flavour with powerful bioactive phytonutrients. Together, they benefit us by fighting inflammation, infections, depression and improving overall organ health.