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Health Effects of Anise Seed: Breaking It Down

<article> <section> <p>Love trying flavors and spices from different cultures? Have you ever tried anise? Anise, also called <i>Pimpinella anisum</i> or sweet cumin, is a licorice-flavored seed used in the cuisine of Mexico, Italy, and the Middle East. Possibly you’ve seen the Chinese star anise before. That brown-colored spice looks just like a star, but anise seed is different—although it has a similar flavor. It comes from the same family of plants as parsley, celery, and carrots. With its signature strong scent, anise often lends a licorice-flavor to candy, liquor, biscotti, sausage, and other dishes. It’s a great way to add a new flavor to your food and pack a punch of health benefits!</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What is Anise Good For?</header> <p>Used for centuries for its medicinal properties, anise seed treats a wide range of symptoms. It soothes digestive problems, asthma, bronchitis, pain, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">hormones</a>, and childbirth. You can even use it for bad breath.<sup>1</sup> Pretty wide array of benefits, right?</p> <p>Research has discovered many possible health benefits of anise seed. Here are six of the health benefits of anise seed:</p> <div class="sub-head">1. High in Iron</div> <p>One tablespoon provides 2.5 mg of iron, meeting approximately 25% of men’s daily needs and 14% of women’s needs.<sup>2</sup></p> <div class="sub-head">2. Antibacterial Properties</div> <p>Anise may be able to block the growth of certain types of bacteria and fungi, preventing infections.<sup>3</sup> </p> <div class="sub-head">3. May Help Improve Symptoms of <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Depression</a> </div> <p>Three grams of anise seeds after meals three times a day may improve symptoms of postpartum depression, a study found.<sup>4</sup></p> <div class="sub-head">4. Relieving Menopause or Menstrual Discomfort</div> <p>Studies have shown anise may mimic the effects of estrogen, relieving symptoms of menopause and PMS. One found anise seeds were able to reduce hot flashes by 75%.<sup>5</sup> Another found that anise, celery seed, and saffron were able to relieve menstrual pain.<sup>6</sup></p> <div class="sub-head">5. Can Help Lower <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Inflammation</a></div> <p>Anise oil may help reduce swelling and pain. It is high in antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds.<sup>7</sup></p> <div class="sub-head">6. May Help Regulate Blood Sugar</div> <p>The active compound in anise is anethole. Preliminary research has found that it may prevent high blood sugar by changing how the body uses carbohydrates. Further research is needed for how anise can help with <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">blood sugar control</a>.<sup>8</sup> </p> <p>As you can see, anise seed has many potential health benefits from being an anti-inflammatory to blood sugar control: all in one <i>tiny</i> seed.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="seeds-in-different-dishes"> </picture> <header>Does Anise Have Side Effects?</header> <p>Anise does have some side effects. In very high doses it has been known to possibly cause complications during pregnancy and reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. </p> <p>Anise seed can cause allergic reactions for those with allergies to plants in the same family. So consult your doctor if you are allergic to celery, carrots, or parsley. </p> <p>For most people, using anise in normal quantities in food does not increase the risk of any significant health side effects. </p> <div class="sub-head">Does Anise Increase Estrogen?</div> <p>There is some concern over the ability of anise to act like estrogen, increasing levels in the body. In high doses, it might worsen some hormone-sensitive conditions like endometriosis and breast cancer. Research is still evaluating the impact of anise on estrogen-dominant conditions and what dosage might be dangerous.<sup>9</sup></p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="wooden-spoons-with-seeds"> </picture> <header>How To Use Anise</header> <p>Ready to get started using anise in your food and getting all the health benefits? You can use anise as a <i>spice</i> to flavor food. You can add it to dishes either ground or whole. Anise seed is not the same as the Chinese star anise (as we mentioned before). It’s a bit more versatile as it does not need to be ground. </p> <p>You can find it in most grocery stores in the spice aisle. You may also be able to find it as an <i>essential oil</i> or an <i>extract</i>. The oil is more concentrated than the extract form, but both are great for cooking. Add anise seeds to baked goods or various Middle Eastern, Mexican, or Italian dishes for authentic flavors. </p> <p>Anise extract is commonly used in various cultures to flavor coffee or tea. To make your own, add some to a tea bag and steep to make a post-meal digestive tea. Or you can even eat the seeds whole after a meal to help with digestion.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Wrapping It Up</header> <p>Ready to experiment with exciting new flavors? Anise is your answer for this summer’s dinner parties. Since it tastes like licorice, make sure your guests are excited about some exotic new flavors. Anise is the flavorful <i>and</i> healthy spice to add to your favorite cultural dishes--so what are you waiting for? Get cookin’! </p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Anise</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Basic Report: 02002, Spices, anise seed</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Antifungal activity of fluid extract and essential oil from anise fruits</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Pimpinella anisum in the treatment of functional dyspepsia</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Estrogenic activity of isolated compounds and essential oils of Pimpinella</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">The effect of an Iranian herbal drug on primary dysmenorrhea</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Evaluation of analgesic and antiinflammatory activity of Pimpinella anisum</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Trans-anethole, a terpenoid ameliorates hyperglycemia</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Fennel and anise as estrogenic agents</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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