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Healthy Spices | Chinese Five Spice Powder

Updated on February 10, 2016
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Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Chinese Five Spice Powder
Chinese Five Spice Powder

About Five Spice Powder

Five spice powder is a mixture of five spices used mostly in Chinese cooking, and also in other Asian and Middle Eastern cooking.

Traditionally used to season Peking duck, the five spice powder provides 5 different flavors - sweet, salty, sour, bitter and pungent - to the food.

The name name five spice is symbolic rather than literal as the combination may include spices like nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, licorice, mandarin orange peel and cardamom.

It is an excellent marinade for beef, chicken, pork and sea food as well. It is one of the essential base seasonings for Chinese cooking.

Five spice powder can also be added to rice dishes and vegetable stir fried dishes to add sweetness, warmth and bite to the dishes.



Basic Recipe For Chinese Five Spice Powder

Here is a basic recipe for preparing your own five spice powder at home. All spices are to be taken in equal quantities.

  • 1 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground Cloves
  • 1 tsp ground Fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground Star Anise
  • 1 tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns

Mix well and store in an airtight container.

The homemade mix has a better flavour and is fresher and cheaper too.

Five spice powder is a good alternative to substitute and lessen the dependence on unhealthy common salt.


Health Benefits Of Five Spice Powder

The blend of different spices gives the five spice powder not only its unique flavour but several medicinal properties.

Some health benefits of the individual spices in the five spice powder mixture provide are enumerated below:


Cinnamon

The cinnamon tree is native to Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan cinnamon is the real cinnamon while the cinnamon that is sold in the US is derived from the cinnamon like Cassia tree and is not the real one and therefore cheaper. Cinnamon has a sweet and biting flavour.

Cinnamon has anti bacterial properties and is especially useful in fighting stomach infections caused by H.pylori, the stomach causing pathogen.

Besides this, it regulates sugar and cholesterol level and balances hormonal levels in women. Read my article on the right of this to know more about the health benefits of cinnamon.


Cloves

They are the unopened flower buds of an evergreen tree native to Indonesia. It is much used in Indian cooking and they give warmth to the body.

This very strongly flavoured spice with a numbing property contains Eugenol, a very powerful anti inflammatory. This chemical also provides cloves its sweet taste and aroma, anesthetic effect and antiseptic properties.

Cloves regulate blood sugar levels, reduce dental pain, counters indigestion and constipation and more.

Read my detailed health article on the health benefits of cloves in the link to the right.


Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are native to the Mediterranean and Southwest Asia. They are used in Indian spice mixes and Italian sausages and also used in breads, sauces, marinades and liquers. They are sweet in taste because of the presence of the chemical Anethole which is 13 times sweeter than sugar.

Fennel seeds have an antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties because of flavonoids like kaempferol, quercetin and rutin. Because of this, they provide protection against cancer, delay aging and age related degeneration disease.

The combination of dietary fiber and several vitamins and minerals help to relieve indigestion and alleviate anemia, regulate heart rate and blood pressure, and more.

Read more about these health benefits in detail in my article on the right.


Star Anise

Star anise is native to China and the Anethole component in it gives it the licorice like flavour. It is a dark brown, star shaped fruit that is widely used in Asian cooking. It is used in desserts and for flavouring liquers in the West.

It has strong anti viral properties and the quercetin and shikimic acid in them help to boost body immunity.

Star anise also has antiseptic, anti inflammatory and anti spasmodic properties that help in relieving abdominal pain, digestive issues and infections of the respiratory tract.

The drug Tamiflu is prepared from it.


Szechuan Peppercorns

Szechuan or Sichuan peppercorns are native to Sichuan province of China. Though not a pepper in terms of being derives from a pepper plant, are spicy. These are the red peppercorn like covering or outer peels of the berries of the prickly ash tree. They have anise like flavour with a slightly tangy taste but are less pungent than black peppercorns.

They have some unique essential oils, like B-myrcene, limonene, gerianol, linalool, cineol, citronella and dipentene, that give them their aromatic flavour.

Sichuan peppercorns have antiseptic, anti spasmodic, carminative, digestive, expectorant, stimulant and tonic properties.

They counter free radicals, are effective diuretics and because of the heating effect they provide, they raise the metabolic rate thus eliminating toxins through sweat.

Szechuan peppercorns also provide a numbing sensation to the mouth due to the presence of the chemical Hydroxy alpha sanshool.


Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.

Five Spice Chicken

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© 2016 Rajan Singh Jolly

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    • rajan jolly profile image
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      Rajan Singh Jolly 22 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @DDE, you're right spices are so mysterious with their awesome flavors. Thank you.

      @billybuc - thank you, Bill.

      @emge - thank you.

      @MsDora - thanks for stopping by.

      @Audrey - thanks for appreciating the hub. We use a variety of spices in our day to day cooking and I firmly believe they benefit one's health. And yes, I am keeping up with my singing though only to myself. Helps the mood. Thanks.

      @Vellur - we use all these spices in our daily cooking except probably the Sichuan pepper. If you cannot get it you can use black pepper instead. Thanks for reading.

      @swalia - thanks for appreciating.

      @GTF - spices as such are mostly strong because of the concentration of so many volatile oils in them and healthier for the very same reason. Reason enough to use it as much as possible, and of course, sparingly. Thanks.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 22 months ago

      I do love Chinese Five Spice Powder Rajan. It can be strong though and I remember accidentally using far too much of it on a recipe once. I won't do that again.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 22 months ago

      Your hubs are so full of interesting information. Very well-researched too!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 22 months ago from Dubai

      I use spices in my cooking, will try this one out. Thank you for sharing.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 22 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      Thank you Rajan for another interesting and well-written hub. I'm really into spices these days and actually picked up some "Chinese Five Spice Powder" but haven't tried it yet.

      I appreciate how you always mention the nutritional value of foods in your articles. Stay healthy my friend and remember to sing each day. :)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 22 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for the explanation on Five Spice Powder and the nutritional information of the spices. Good presentation as always!

    • emge profile image

      Madan 22 months ago from Abu Dhabi

      interesting and informative

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 22 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's always an education, reading one of your hubs. Thank you as always and blessings to you and yours.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 22 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Five spices are intriguing. I have the spices except for the last one. That is what makes this spice special.