Star anise is a star-shaped fruit produced by Illicium verum, an evergreen tree native to Vietnam and China. In cooking, star anise adds a licorice-like flavor, but the spice also has numerous its health benefits. The spice produces shikimic acid, which is used in some modern medications. The health benefits of star anise are powerful and varied and include antioxidant properties and the promotion of bone and skin health.
Good Source of B-Complex Vitamins
Star anise is rich in B-complex vitamins, such as niacin and riboflavin, which carry a wide range of health benefits when consumed. Riboflavin boosts skin, eye, and nervous system health, and is a key player in red cell production. It also helps break down carbohydrates and turn them into energy. Niacin is equally important in breaking down carbs into energy, and also has a role in regulating blood sugar levels. It helps with the production of hormones, affecting serotonin and adrenal hormones.
Inhibits Fungal Infections
One of the surprising benefits of star anise is its ability to inhibit fungal infection. Studies conclude star anise works as an anti-fungal against Candida albicans. Commonly known as a yeast infection or thrush, Candida albicans is a fungal infection stemming from the yeast naturally occurring in the mouth, throat, and intestinal tract.
Reduces Symptoms of Cough and Flu
In addition to shikimic acid, star anise oil contains thymol, terpineol, and anethole, compounds that can alleviate symptoms of the common flu. Star anise can also treat other respiratory ailments such as bronchitis, inflammation of the lungs, and respiratory tract infections. Vitamins A and C also inhibit coughs and other respiratory problems.
Aids Digestive Health
Star anise aids digestion and relieves stomach aches. The spice also helps in combating gas, bloating, abdominal cramps, indigestion, and constipation. Star anise tea can also help the gastrointestinal tract drain mucus caused by a cold, preventing stomach aches.
Rich in Vitamins A and C
Star anise is a rich source of vitamins A and C. Vitamin A plays a critical role in immune system wellness, vision, cellular communication, and reproduction. Organs such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys are dependent on vitamin A for healthy performance. Vitamin C is primarily responsible for the health and maintenance of the body’s tissues. Additionally, the nutrient contributing to the health of immune and cardiovascular systems, and maintains good vision and healthy skin.
Aids Restful Sleep
Star anise tea has been traditionally to promote a good night’s sleep. Anethole, a compound in star anise, may have a mild sedative effect that aids sleep. Additionally, sipping a hot cup of star anise tea before bed soothes the mind and reduces anxiety, allowing for rejuvenating slumber.
Promotes Healthy Bones
Star anise is rich in calcium, an element imperative to healthy bone growth and maintenance. Calcium strengthens bones, which reduces pressure and alleviates pain. It also prevents arthritis and osteoporosis. In addition to promoting bone growth and maintenance, calcium is also highly beneficial to heart and muscle health. The mineral is also responsible for regulating muscle contraction. Keeping up your calcium stores is vital because, if your body is deprived of sufficient calcium, it will draw it from your bones.
Anethole, the organic compound that gives star anise its licorice flavor, is an antimicrobial agent effective against bacteria, yeast, and fungi. Bacterial infections can include ailments such as ear infections, E. coli, and urinary tract infections, all of which anethole may counteract. One scientific study concluded star anise showed substantial antibacterial activity against 67 drug-resistant strains of bacteria.
Contains Antioxidant Properties
The process of oxidation is one whereby uncharged molecules — free radicals — are released, causing damage to the body’s cells. This process is now known to contribute to aging, cancer, and other harmful diseases. However, consuming food and spices with naturally occurring antioxidants slows this process and stops the free radicals from damaging the cells. Star anise contains such antioxidants, contributing to healthy skin, bones, and organs, and reducing the risk of cancer and other diseases.
Promotes Healthy Skin
Star anise may firm up and energize the skin, resulting in a youthful glow and fewer blemishes. The star-shaped pods contain collagen, a protein naturally occurring in muscles, bones, the digestive system, and tendons. Collagen keeps skin firm and wrinkle-free, but as we age, our body produces less and less. Consuming foods containing collagen may help slow the aging process, keeping skin tighter and more youthful.