Vanilla: The most expensive spice behind saffron, and believed to be the most delicious spice in the world (a study found it even beats chocolate!) It’s a very well-known spice as it’s found in everything from chocolate chip cookies to scented candles. But less known are the health benefits of vanilla!
Vanilla extract, the delicious ingredient that flavors the best desserts, comes from the vanilla bean, or pod. This pod grows from Vanilla Planifolia, which surprisingly is an orchid! And Vanilla Planifolia is a picky plant, to say the least. It is the only orchid that bears fruit, and to produce this fruit the flower must be pollinated immediately as it only lasts one day. Because of this, there is only a 1% chance of pollination in the wild, so the flowers are pollinated by hand on farms to produce the beans for vanilla extract. Furthermore, the orchid will only grow within 10 to 20 degrees of the equator, so most vanilla is produced in Madagascar, Mexico and Tahiti.
In the end though, the pickiness of the plant and hard work to cultivate pays off with the rich and delectable flavor of vanilla. Now onto the good stuff, the health benefits!
Antioxidants are essential to one’s health as they protect against free radicals, which lead to cell damage. We are exposed to free radicals on a regular basis: through normal body processes, the body’s breakdown of certain medicines, and exposure to pollutants. Depending on the concentration of the extract, vanilla extract can contain 26 to 90 percent of vanilla’s antioxidants, according to a study in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.” This high number of antioxidants can provide great benefits for overall health and protection against free radicals.
Vanilla extract contains vanillin, an organic compound that is the most prevalent compound in vanilla (however, vanillin that appears on food ingredient labels is typically synthetic vanillin manufactured as a vanilla “flavoring.” Don’t confuse the two!). Vanillin has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation from multiple causes. One of these causes is inflammation from cold sores. The antibacterial properties of vanilla may also help cure cold sores. Additionally, vanilla may be linked to reducing inflammation in the whole body overall. Inflammation is a major root of many diseases, so there is evidence the anti-inflammatory properties in vanilla extract could help improve health overall.
Its anti-inflammatory properties could also aid in better mental health, because inflammation can lead to an unstable mental state. This occurs when the brain is stressed for a variety of reasons including emotional stress, infection, nutritional deficiencies, and injury. This stress is a result of the release of inflammatory cytokines, causing a “cloudy” brain. According to Psychology Today, this can even be linked to depression. A study published by the Indian Journal of Pharmacology found the use of vanillin has shown a link to antidepressant results. These results, along with possible reduced anxiety, shows vanilla could result in better mental health overall.
With these important benefits in mind, adding vanilla to your diet on a more regular basis could show positive effects both now and in the long run. And the new addition to our NuStevia Syrup line, NuStevia Vanilla Syrup and NuStevia Vanilla Ginger Syrup, is the real deal when it comes to vanilla. Instead of “natural flavors” that don’t contain a true extract of the plant, the vanilla in our syrup comes from real vanilla bean concentrate. That means you get real vanilla flavor and all the health benefits as well.
Check out our new NuStevia Vanilla Syrup and NuStevia Vanilla Ginger Syrup, as well as our Vanilla NuStevia 2oz and Vanilla NuStevia Alcohol Free 2oz to add vanilla to your diet. It could lead to great health benefits, as well as great flavor in your life.
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