Vanilla is derived from the orchids of the Vanilla genus, which bears fruits that are shaped like pods. These pods can range in size from 5-22cm in length and are considered of a higher quality when they are larger. However, these pods must be hand-picked at precisely the right time to ensure that the seed pods don’t pop and that they are properly ripe.
Unripe vanilla pods turn yellow when they grow 5 to 8 inches long and are ready to harvest. These are then blanched in boiling water, sweated and sun dried for a few weeks until they turn dark brown and wrinkled. Then the white crystalline essence known as vanillin is extracted from some superior quality beans. This essence is referred to as the vanilla flavor.
The most common form of vanilla is vanilla extract which is prepared by percolating chopped vanilla beans in ethyl alcohol and water for about 48 hours. The mixture is stored for several months and then filtered.
Vanilla pods contain several tiny black seeds which are used to flavor many sweet dishes and chocolates. Vanillin is the essence of vanilla bean but artificial vanillin is also produced on a large scale from wood pulp by-products. The vanilla flavoring is often a blend of pure and imitation vanilla. The appearance of tiny black specks in a vanilla flavored dish is an indication of pure vanilla.
Extract, powder, whole pods, and vanilla sugar are the most common forms that you will find vanilla in, and these can be added to countless different remedies and parts of the body.
Nutrition Value of Vanilla extract
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 288
- Total Fat 0.1 g
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 9 mg
- Potassium 148 mg – 4% RDA
- Total Carbohydrate 13 g – 4% RDA
- Sugar 13 g
- Protein 0.1 g
- Calcium 1% RDA
- Magnesium 3% RDA
10 Nutrition Health Benefits of Vanilla Extract
1. Heart Health
Vanillin which is the active ingredient of vanilla has been shown to reduce cholestrol levels in the body.This is very important for people at high risk of heart attacks and strokes, as lower cholesterol can prevent atherosclerosis, inflammation in the arteries, and blood clots.
2. Reduces Cancer Risk
Vanilla extract has antioxidants that eliminate free radicals in the body, which are created as natural byproducts of cellular metabolism. Free radicals can cause cancer and chtonic disease.
Vanillin also shows anti-mutagenic, anti-angiogenic and anti-metastatic properties by affecting several genes that cause DNA damage, apoptosis and cell proliferation. It is found that vanillin inhibits growth and invasiveness of cancer cells by helping in repair and replication of DNA and stimulating production of powerful antioxidant glutathione.
3. Skin Care
Vanilla has antibacterial properties which are beneficial for the treatment of acne as it helps cleanse the skin, reducing the occurrence of pimples and acne.
The antioxidant helps fight free radicals that leads to aging signs like wrinkles and dark spots. This helps maintain a healthy glowing skin.
Vanilla is a good source of B-vitamins like niacin, thiamin, Vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid which play an important role in the maintenance of healthy skin.
4. Alleviates Insomnia
The calming and soothing aroma of vanilla exerts sedative effects on the brain, which induce sleep and help people suffering from mild sleep disorders and insomnia.
Its strong aroma stimulates release of “feel good” hormones (oxytocin and dopamine) and neurochemicals, which induce feelings of pleasure, happiness and love. Besides, increasing sexual desire and libido, vanilla is found especially beneficial in improving testosterone levels in males and treating erectile dysfunction.
Vanilla has sedative properties, which make it effective in soothing inflammation and allergies. Its high antioxidant content also helps speed up healing. These analgesic effects of vanilla are found beneficial in providing relief from fever and common inflammation (cough, cold, or respiratory infection) to chronic inflammatory conditions (rheumatoid arthritis, and gout).
7. Aids in weight loss
Vanilla aids in weight loss as it has appetite-suppressing properties. The extract of this plant is also known to help lower cholesterol levels, making your body and metabolism more efficient, and effectively supporting weight loss goals.
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8. Respiratory Health
Vanilla extract can help to coat the throat when mixed with warm water and provide an anesthetic effect to the throat. The antibacterial properties can also help eliminate the underlying infection or illness while easing coughs and sore throats.
9. Aids in Digestion
The scent of vanilla help to calm feelings of nausea, while vanilla-infused herbal tea can soothe inflammation in the gut and prevent vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, and stomach upset.
10. Boosts Immunity
Vanilla is rich in antioxidants, which can help prevent the breakdown of cells and tissues around the body, and stimulate the body’s natural regrowth. Furthermore, the antibacterial nature of this remedy means that it can protect your immune system and lower stress on the body, making it much easier to recover from injury or illness.