Five-spice powder is a mixture used in Chinese and other south-east Asian cuisines. As the name indicates, it is a blend of five spices viz. fennel seeds, cinnamon, clove, star anise and Sichuan peppercorn.
According to traditional Asian medicine, our bodies require five tastes, viz. sweet salty, sour, bitter and pungent, to nourish the internal organs and satisfy our tastes buds.
This powder not only makes dishes flavoursome, the five ingredients are packed with medicinal properties too.
1) Fennel seeds (Hindi-Saunf)
Fennel seeds contain several antioxidants like quercetin, kaempferol, anethole and rutin, which remove free radicals and help prevent cancer and degenerative neurological diseases. They provide fibre, vital vitamins and minerals like copper, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, etc. Fennel seeds are known to help in preventing and treating flatulence and indigestion. They also lower serum LDL cholesterol levels and strengthened the immune system, relieve coughs and bronchitis.
2) Cinnamon (Hindi-Dal-chini)
Cinnamon is an excellent source of antioxidants like cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, fibre and minerals like manganese, iron, and calcium. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps lower LDL cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. Cinnamon has antibacterial properties and boosts cognitive function and memory and fights leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
Clove has the highest content of antioxidants among all spices and is rich in vitamins and minerals. It has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and germicidal properties. It is also effective against tooth ache, joint pain and helps relieve digestive problems.
4) Star Anise (Hindi- Chakri Phool)
Star anise contains shikimic acid which is used to make Tamiflu. It also provides minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc and copper and vitamins. It is anti-septic, anti-spasmodic and has diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is traditionally used as a medicine for relieving stomach pain, back pain, digestive problems and respiratory tract infections. Star anise also aids in menstruation and lactation in women.
5) Sichuan Peppercorn
Sichuan peppercorns are an excellent source of essential oils and antioxidants. They have carminative and anti-spasmodic properties and are used to treat aches and digestive problems. They help boost the immune system and purify blood.
(Compiled by Philaso Kaping)