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What are the health benefits of Star Anise ?

Star Anise is a spice whose Scientific name is Illicium Verum and commonly known as Star aniseed or even Chinese Star anise. It is an atypical fruit of a tiny oriental tree. As the name suggests, it has a star like structure and closely resemble Anise in flavour.
It is native to China, Persia and in Northern India; it is famous as Badian Khatai. Nowadays, it is being used in West as a substitute to anise in baking and liquor manufacturing, mostly distinctively in the manufacturing of liquor Galliano. It is also used in production of Sambuca, Pastis, and many types of Absinthe. It is broadly used in Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines. It is also found in southern part of New South Wales.

Cookery Uses: It adds flavour to dishes because it contains Anethole due to which it tastes like Licorice. In India, this spice is mostly used in the preparation of meat and biryani. Here, it is a major constituent of garam masala and masala chai. Apart from its usage in sweetmeats and confectionary, where sweeteners must be needed, it combines well with pork and duck. In Chinese cuisines, it is nearly always added to beef and chicken dishes. It enhances flavour of marbled eggs and even snacks. In the West, it is supplemented in fruit compotes and jams. It is the ingredient of famous mixture called as “Chinese Five Spices”.

Medicinal Uses: According to traditional Chinese Medication, Star Anise is used to help on relieving cold-stagnation especially when consumed as a hot moving herb. As a fact, the reason behind consuming it in tea is that it is a sure shot remedy of rheumatism and the seeds help in digestion whenever chewed after meals. According to modern pharmacological studies, its crude extracts and active compounds acquire a wide variety of pharmacological benefits, particularly in antimicrobial, antioxidant, insecticidal, analgesic, sedative and convulsive activities. It is enriched with Shikimic Acid which is a primary source to create anti-influenza drug Tamilfu.
Like Anise, it also possesses carminative, stomachic, stimulant, and diuretic properties. In fact, in the East, it is used to combat Colic and add flavours to pastilles. It promotes health of the female reproductive organs and for lactating mothers to increase breast milk secretion.

Star Anise Oil: Star Anise Oil is produced from crushed anise seeds by stem distillation which is valuable in perfumes, soaps, and also has been used in toothpastes, mouth washes and skin creams. It is beneficial in providing relief from back pain and also used in perfumes and as a breath freshener too. Anise oil works as an expectorant in the treatment of Asthma, Bronchitis, and Dry Cough as it has some anti-bacterial and anti fungal properties. It is said to be having sedative properties that ensures good sleep. Ointment and soaps containing oil can help as a natural remedy for oily skin, mild acne and as a natural treatment for lice infestations.

Star Anise Seeds: The seeds are a good source of many essential B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine, niacin, riboflavin, and thaimin. These vitamins helps in increasing GABA neuro-chemical levels in brain. The spicy seeds are also rich in minerals like calcium, iron, copper, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium. The Spice also contains Anti-Oxidant vitamins like Vitamin C and Vitamin A.

Nutritional Value and Precautions: It gives energy of 359Kcal, proteins of 4.1grams, and carbohydrates of 72.7grams and 5.7grams of Fat. To keep its nutritional properties alive, it should be stored in air tight containers in a dark cool place. Such storage conditions ensure its magic to sustain for several months.

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