The Magic of Vanilla

Vanilla-the feel-good scent and best-loved dessert flavoring next to chocolate. Vanilla offers a delicious aroma and taste to baked goods and sweets. The smell of pure vanilla is almost intoxicating. You can find it in anything from cakes to pastries and, of course, ice cream—but have you ever considered the health benefits of vanilla? Pure vanilla extract offers a variety of healthfulness with minimal calorie impact.

Did you know? Vanilla extract contains a compound known as vanillin that has antioxidant, antidepressant, and antitumor effects. Vanillin is the primary component of the extract of the vanilla bean. Flavor compounds are what give a recipe that intense, distinctly vanilla flavor. Some less expensive brands of vanilla extract use synthetic vanillin instead of vanilla beans. These products are often referred to as imitation vanilla extract.

Vanilla is a tropical, climbing, orchid grown in many places, including Mexico, Central, and South America, and Tahiti. The flavor is extracted from the pod of the plant, also known as the “beans.” It’s been flavoring foods and drinks for hundreds of years — since the time of Montezuma.

Vanilla contains somewhere between 250 and 500 flavor and fragrance compounds, with vanillin being the most prominent and studied. Vanilla, as a natural spice, is expensive — second only to saffron — which is why so many artificial vanilla products made from petrochemicals exist. These synthetic versions are about 20 times cheaper than the real stuff.

Vanilla is much more than a delicious flavor ingredient in our baked goods. It also has several essential benefits, including its ability to reduce acne, improve hair growth, speed healing, reduce inflammation, prevent chronic diseases, protect the heart, and much more.

Soothing Benefits

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.

Decreases Inflammation

For centuries, vanilla in numerous forms has been used to soothe inflammation throughout the body. This is particularly effective for inflammation of the liver, which can occur for multiple reasons, especially if you are a heavy drinker vanillin is a crucial part of this remedy’s beneficial effects and can help ease conditions of arthritis, gout and other inflammatory conditions.


Vanilla is often included in hygiene and beauty products because of its many effects on the hair and skin. If you suffer from frequent split ends or hair loss, applying its essential oil in a carrier oil of some kind can measurably strengthen the hair and induce blood flow to the scalp, encouraging growth and more aesthetically pleasing hair.

Prevents Acne

For people who regularly struggle with acne, it can often feel like a losing battle. Fortunately, the antibacterial nature of this beneficial flower makes it a powerful ally in the fight against pimples, as it can eliminate the underlying infection and speed up the healing process of the skin.  It can even reduce the appearance of scars from a particularly bad bout of acne.

Calms Anxiety

Although some people remain skeptical of aromatherapy, some of the best natural remedies can directly affect our olfactory sense. The smell of vanilla is known to impact the brain and induce calmness directly. Therefore, the extract can be one of the best and most accessible remedies for anxiety and chronic stress.

Magnesium and Potassium

Vanilla extract contains some magnesium and potassium — minerals essential for good health. Potassium is necessary for proper kidney and heart function as well as muscle contraction and nerve function. Adults need between 2,600 and 3,400 milligrams per day. The 6 milligrams in a tablespoon of vanilla extract may seem inconsequential, but every bit helps contribute to your daily needs.

A tablespoon of vanilla extract offers just 1 milligram of this mineral that contributes to muscle and nerve function and blood pressure regulation, among many other functions.

Alcohol in Vanilla Extract

Yes, the vanilla extract contains alcohol. It has content between 35 and 40 percent, which is similar to the potent product known as Jägermeister. Consuming vanilla extract is safe in the quantities usually called for in recipes. You can buy it in grocery stores without a liquor license because the Prohibition-era Volstead Act exempted flavoring extracts from being considered as regulated alcohol.

Helps Digestion

Few drops of vanilla extract in milk or water have a soothing effect on stomach related nausea. The aroma of vanilla relieves nausea and other stomach related problems. It promotes healthy digestion – drinking vanilla herbal tea has long been a popular natural remedy that instantly soothes gut inflammation, and helps with other digestion issues like cramping, stomach-ache, and diarrhea.

Vanilla flavored herbal tea made from boiling dried beans in water is useful in the calming stomach and reducing discomfort. You can prepare a homemade vanilla extract for regular usage.


Vanilla is a natural aphrodisiac, improving sexual arousal and benefits people suffering from reduced sexual abilities. Regular treatment with vanilla essential oil or vanilla extract can enhance testosterone levels in males, increasing their libido and treating problems like impotence and erectile dysfunction. Its pleasing aroma enhances arousal and promotes sexual behavior.

Relieve Pain

Vanillin is a compound of magical properties. It acts as a pain reliever as well as have anesthetic properties. These properties make it apt for naturally relieving pain. It helps soothe toothache pain due to inflammation.

What’s the Difference Between Vanilla Bean Pods, Vanilla Powder, Vanilla Extract, and Vanilla Bean Paste?

  • Vanilla Bean Pods: Whole vanilla bean pods are harvested from vanilla orchids while still green and not quite ripe. After harvest, the seeds are heated to release their flavor compounds (this also turns them brown). Fresh vanilla beans have no scent; they must be damaged to release their aroma, a process that can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Cured vanilla beans are the basis for vanilla powder, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste.
  • Vanilla Powder (Ground Vanilla): Vanilla powder can refer to either dried vanilla beans that have been ground to a fine, dark brown powder or vanilla-infused maltodextrin, which is white or beige. If you’re looking to substitute vanilla powder for beans, look for the brown stuff and make sure vanilla is the only ingredient listed.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanillin is more soluble in alcohol than water, so extracts are used to create an infusion with a strong vanilla flavor. It’s made by running alcohol through chopped-up vanilla beans and then aging the mixture. The vanilla extract should be added towards the end of cooking since prolonged heat will cause the flavor compounds to change or evaporate.
  • Vanilla Bean Paste: Made from concentrated vanilla extract plus vanilla powder, vanilla bean paste is a convenient substitute for vanilla beans, with more intense vanilla flavor than extract alone.

With these essential benefits and its sweet aroma, adding vanilla to your diet could show positive improvements in your mind and body.

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