Anise vs. Licorice: What’s the Difference?

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Anise is a flowering plant commonly known as Aniseed because it’s not the leaves that we consume but the seeds. It belongs to the parsley family, and according to its botanical nature, it is a fruit and is used in cooking and herbal medicine due to its high nutritional value.

Licorice is quite a controversial plant because of its fame for its health benefits and low reputation for its health danger. It comes from the plant glycyrrhiza glabra and is a legume. Licorice is mainly famous as the black licorice candy that is made from dried root extracts of the licorice plant.

What is Anise?

Anise is confused with licorice a lot because of the similar flavor, but it’s a lot more than that; it has an aromatic nature, multiple health benefits, and comes from the Mediterranean region. It is similar to star anise and is mostly consumed as tea and consists of a compound called “anethole” that is responsible for its taste. 

It is recognized by different names in different regions of the world. In India, it is called “chakra phool” because of its star shape and “Badiyan ka Phool” in Pakistan with “Phool” meaning “flower” because of its star-like, flower-like shape. However, it is native to Southwest China and the northern regions of Vietnam, and its scientific name is Illicium verum.

Nutritional Information

According to Healthline, one tablespoon of anise (7 grams) provides:

  • 23 calories
  • 1 g protein
  • 3 g carbohydrate
  • 1 g fat
  • 1 g fiber
  • 13% iron of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • 4% calcium of the RDI
  • 3% magnesium of the RDI

Benefits and Uses

  1. Anise has been used in herbal medicine for a long time because of its numerous benefits and is also an important ingredient in the kitchen for cooking. Some of its benefits and different uses are given below:
  2. Anise, despite its small size, contains a lot of iron that is used by the body to make hemoglobin and myoglobin. It can help anemic individuals and increase their number of red blood cells.
  3. It is known to reduce symptoms of menopause as it has estrogen-mimicking compounds.
  4. Anise can also lower symptoms of depression and anxiety and boost your mood because of its aromatic and soothing properties.
  5. Anise has a positive impact on the digestive system, increasing metabolism and improving digestion, thereby helping in weight loss.
  6. In herbal medicine, anise has been proven to help with a runny nose, constipation, and minor infections. It has anti-inflammatory properties.
  7. Because of its healthy impact on the digestive system, anise also helps prevent stomach ulcers. In one particular animal study, it was found that anise reduces the secretion of stomach acid and helps reduce damage to cells – decreasing chances of stomach/gastric ulcers.
  8. It is most commonly consumed as tea as it is the easiest way to ingest anise.
  9. Anethole, as aforementioned, provides the sharp taste of the anise, but it also has another important function: inhibition of bacterial and fungal growth. Intake of anise in an adequate amount can help protect against certain infections.
  10. It was found in a test-tube study that anethole prevented the growth of a bacteria strain that causes cholera which is an infection whose characteristic symptoms involve severe dehydration and diarrhea.
  11. Anise has estrogen-mimicking compounds, which means it can help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis.
  12. It has been observed that anise balances blood sugar levels by enhancing the function of beta cells of the pancreas (the cells that secrete insulin)

What is Licorice?

Licorice comes from the licorice plant’s root and is among the world’s oldest remedies. It has been used to treat numerous ailments and to flavor medicines, candies, and drinks and has a strong flavor like fennel. An interesting fact about licorice is that it was used in the drinks of Pharaohs in ancient Egyptian times to enhance flavor and add sweetness. In addition, licorice has been used in Greek, Chinese, and Middle Eastern medicine to cure an upset stomach, treat infections, and soothe respiratory problems.

Nutritional Information

According to USDA, 14 grams of licorice contains:

  • 53 calories
  • 0 g protein
  • 0 g fat
  • 13 g carbohydrate
  • 7 mg sodium
  • 8 g sugars
  • 0 g fiber

Benefits and Uses

  1. Based on the amount of fat present in licorice, which is 0 g, it’s pretty safe to say that licorice is a low-fat or fat-free food item!
  2. It has almost no cholesterol, so it is good for hypertensive individuals and helps maintain blood cholesterol levels.
  3. Menopausal symptoms aren’t easy to deal with… The hot flashes, reducing bone density, and feelings of unease can be a real mood buster. Licorice can help ease these symptoms!
  4. It promotes cardiovascular health and improves metabolic rate.
  5. Due to its low-fat nature and ability to improve metabolism, it is great for weight loss.
  6. Certain components of licorice have been shown to improve immunity by inducing protective effects against some viruses, for example, variants of influenza.
  7. Licorice is commonly harvested for its essential oils and interesting flavor to spice up dishes.
  8. Licorice is good for the respiratory system as it helps produce healthy and clean mucus.
  9. Licorice root can be used as a loose herb, powdered form, and even packaged in tablets.
  10. It is great for treating hepatitis C, sore throat, gastric ulcers, and coughs.

So What’s the Difference Between Anise and Licorice?

To summarize everything, we’ve covered so far, here are some key differences between anise and licorice:

  • Anise belongs to the parsley family, while licorice belongs to the legume family.
  • Anise is a fruit, not a seed. On the other hand, licorice is a root extract of the licorice plant.
  • Licorice has more calories than anise.
  • Licorice has 0 grams of fat while anise has 1 g.
  • Anise is good for digestive problems, whereas licorice is good for digestive problems as well as respiratory ones.
  • Excess of anything is bad; too much licorice can reduce levels of potassium and can cause muscular problems. Anise side effects are rare.