Anise seeds are tiny and crescent shaped with a strong taste of licorice. The plant, Pimpinella anisum, is a slow-growing annual native to Egypt and the Mediterranean.
Anise seeds are sweet and very aromatic, distinguished by its characteristic licorice flavor. The seeds, whole or powdered, are used in a wide variety of regional and ethnic confectioneries, including the black jelly bean, British aniseed balls, Australian humbugs, New Zealand aniseed wheels, Italian pizzelle, German Pfeffernüsse and Springerle, Austrian Anisbögen, Netherland muisjes, New Mexican Bizcochitos, and Peruvian picarones. It is a key ingredient in Mexican atole de anís or champurrado, which is similar to hot chocolate, and it is eaten as a digestive after meals in India..
The Ancient Romans often served spiced cakes with aniseseed, called mustaceoe at the end of feasts as a digestive. This tradition of serving cake at the end of festivities is the basis for the tradition of serving cake at weddings.
Health Benefits Of Anise Seeds
1. Exotic anise spice contains some of the important plants derived chemical compounds that are known to have been anti-oxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
2. The chief component that gives the characteristic sweet, aromatic flavor to anise is anethole, the essential volatile oil present in the seeds. Other important compounds found in these seeds include estragol, p-anisaldehyde, anise alcohol, acetophenone, pinene and limonene.
3. Anise seed oil obtained from extraction of the seeds is found application in many traditional medicines as stomachic, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, carminative, digestive, expectorant, stimulant and tonic.
4. The seeds are an excellent source of many essential B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin. Pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) helps increase GABA neuro-chemical levels in the brain.
5. The spicy seeds are the great source of minerals like calcium, iron, copper, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium. 100 g dry seeds contain 36.96 mg or 462% daily required levels of iron. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
6. Copper is a cofactor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome C-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as cofactors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Copper is also required in the production of red blood cells.
7. The spice also contains good amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C and vitamin-A.