What is Vanilla? | 8 Health Benefits of Vanilla

What is Vanilla?

Vanilla is an ingredient in the preparation of many dessert recipes and its aroma surely activates the taste buds of many of us. It is used in the flavoring of cakes, shakes, chocolates and ice creams. It is also used as an ingredient in medicines and fragrances. It has numerous health benefits.

Vanilla is obtained from the mature pods of orchids called vanilla planifolia and is produced in China, Indonesia, Mexico, and Papua New Guinea.(1)

True vanilla is expensive and also high in demand. Its less expensive version, synthetic vanilla is made from wood pulp and coal tar to be used as a substitute. It offers lesser health benefits compared to true vanilla.

8 Health Benefits of Vanilla

Relieves Stress and Anxiety

Vanilla contains vanillin that is known for its antidepressant and mood-lifting effects.

Vanillin is a plant compound and is the most researched component of vanilla. It is also present in other foods like clove oil and rice bran oil.(2)

Studies show that vanillin has powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.(3,4)

A few studies done on rodents show the effect of vanillin in benefitting brain health and protecting against neurodegenerative diseases.

Vanilla is known to have a calming effect on newborns and can lessen their crying. Similarly, it can have a calming effect in adults and can reduce startle reflex, and provide relief from sleep apnea.

Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Chronic inflammation is linked with numerous health issues and chronic diseases.

Eating food rich in anti-inflammatory properties reduces inflammatory markers and improves health.

Vanillin present in vanilla has anti-inflammatory properties.(5) A study done in 2018 showed the effects of vanillin in reducing inflammatory markers like interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha in blood and liver tissue.(6) It is also known to protect against inflammation-related cell damage.

Most of the research is done on animals but it is believed that vanilla can have similar effects on humans as well. It can be used in wounds and to soothe inflammations.

It Can Help Benefit Brain Health

Vanillin and vanillic acid present in vanilla are believed to support brain health. They also have neuroprotective protective properties and may benefit the nervous system.

In a study, vanillic acid injections were found to protect against nerve cell inflammation, reduced markers related to Alzheimer’s disease, and lessened memory impairment in mice injected with a neurotoxin.(7)

Curbs Sugar Intake

Studies show, adding vanilla to sugary drinks enhances their perceived sweetness.(8) One more study showed, adding vanilla to milk-based products increased the likeliness of reduced sugar options.(9)

This shows that adding vanilla to desserts reduces the need to add sugar.

Helps Reduce Blood Pressure

Animal studies reveal that vanillin can help reduce cholesterol levels and regulate blood pressure.(10)

High doses of vanillin can thus be effective in preventing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart diseases.

Skin and Hair Health Benefits of Vanilla

Vanilla can help in protecting hair and skin health.

It can protect the skin from infections and aging. Being rich in vitamin and mineral profile it can keep skin and hair healthy.

It can be used in the form of scrub or essential oil to revive skin and make it healthy.

It also plays a role in reducing hair fall.

Benefits of Vanilla in Easing Toothache

Alcohol in the vanilla extract can numb the toothache while its anti-inflammatory properties can help in healing the infection.

It can be used as an alternative remedy. You just need to put a few drops of vanilla extract on a small cotton ball and put it in the affected area. It can prove to be of help in getting rid of that throbbing toothache.

It is Highly Versatile

Having a bottle of vanilla extract in the kitchen is very common. It is used as an ingredient in many recipes for flavor.

It can be found in smoothies, coffee, ice cream, baked goods, and pasta sauces.

The nutrient profile of vanilla may be different in synthetic vanilla. Therefore if looking for its beneficial properties make sure you get the better one.

Also, there are no human studies proving its benefits but it can surely be used to cut down on sugar addiction, which in itself can bring down the risk of numerous health risks.