Star anise contains various compounds that may confer health benefits. Here’s where it stacks up in many of the crucial categories, according to science.
Star anise doesn’t have much nutritional content in the amounts you’d eat it. It has zero calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and sodium.
That said, it’s a great source of some plant compounds that may contribute to health, like flavonoids, polyphenols, shikimic acid, linalool, and gallic acid.
A 2010 laboratory study looked at the antifungal properties of star anise on a type of fungi that attack plants. During the study, researchers found that star anise essential oil exhibited a strong inhibitory effect against the test fungi, meaning it may prevent fungal growth and the resulting nasty effects on plants.
The outcomes of this research may suggest that star anise has potential as a preservative for fruits and vegetables, but applications for human use require further investigation.
In addition to its antifungal properties, star anise also has antibacterial properties.
A 2010 laboratory study tested star anise against more than 50 drug-resistant bacteria. The researchers found that star anise showed substantial antibacterial properties. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any more recent investigations on this effect, despite the authors suggesting that their work could pave the way for star anise as a component of antibiotic medicines.
Star anise seems to be a triple threat, as it also has antiviral properties. In fact, you can find star anise in Tamiflu®, an antiviral drug for influenza A and influenza B. This medication uses a molecule called shikimic acid, derived from star anise. So, this tiny star is already benefiting the health industry.
Antioxidants play a significant role in preventing cell damage and may help to protect the body against diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, and cataracts.
A 2012 laboratory study examined the chemical extracts of star anise and found that two of them, flavonoids and polyphenols, may have slight antioxidant properties. Although more recent research is lacking, it seems star anise is a potential source of natural antioxidants.
A 2021 analysis performed on mice found that star anise has anti-inflammatory properties. Although the study focused on mouth inflammation, the authors suggest that star anise also reduces information in the smooth muscles of mouse intestine.
Again, large-scale quality research is lacking, and even though star anise shows potential, additional research is needed before solid conclusions can be drawn.
If you have high levels of fat in your blood, you could develop atherosclerosis. In this condition, the walls of the arteries develop plaques of fatty material that restrict blood flow. These plaques affect the body’s ability to pump blood and increase blood pressure. Atherosclerosis, if left untreated, may result in a heart attack or stroke.
A 2015 study on mice found that the anti-inflammatory properties of star anise may help prevent atherosclerosis. However, further testing in different species is needed to see if any benefit truly exists.
Lower blood sugar
Diabetes is a potentially severe disease associated with high blood sugar levels. If someone has too much sugar in their blood, it can cause serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, and problems with vision and nerves.
A 2018 study on yeast cells found that star anise may have anti-diabetic properties because of its polyphenols. These beneficial plant compounds can help manage blood pressure, keep blood vessels healthy and promote good circulation.
However, as this was a study on yeast cells, it’s difficult to conclude how valuable this effect would be in humans. Therefore, further research is necessary to see if adding star anise to diabetes prevention or recovery plans would be beneficial.
Star anise may potentially provide some skin benefits, thanks to its antimicrobial properties.
A small 2021 analysis using 50 participants found that a star anise mouthwash significantly decreases the number of bacteria in the mouth. The authors concluded that star anise has potent antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties.
As bacteria and inflammation drive skin conditions like acne, star anise could potentially benefit certain skin problems. Researchers explored this effect in a 2021 study that tested star anise extract on mice. They suggest it has potential for use in skin infections because of its antimicrobial properties.
Plus, as a botanical astringent, star anise contracts the skin, which could help improve enlarged pores and skin texture.