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The Benefits of Vanilla

The Benefits of Vanilla

As one of the worlds most appreciated flavours, does it have a place in your custom formulation?

What is vanilla extract used for? Most people know it as one of the world’s best-loved dessert flavourings next to chocolate. 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?

If you were ever an adventurous kid who tried vanilla right out of the bottle, you might be thinking, “Isn’t pure vanilla bad for you?” While it might not taste great by itself and isn’t often used by itself, vanilla is a safe and healthy additive for many reasons!

  1. Rich in Antioxidants

Vanilla is a spice with very high levels of antioxidants, which help protect your body’s cells against free radicals and toxins. Free radicals are bad business: they promote the breakdown of your cells and tissues. They are a by-product of natural body processes, though they also show up when we’re exposed to radiation.

Antioxidants are the most significant benefit of vanilla because they help repair your body at the molecular level. They’ve also been linked to lesser risks of various diseases, such as cancer and diabetes. Plus they help reduce the effects of aging and promote more vibrant skin.

  1. Promotes Heart Health

How does vanilla help support a more healthy heart? One of the active ingredients in vanilla, vanillin, has been shown to lower bad cholesterol—and we all know how notorious cholesterol is as one of the primary causes of heart diseases.

This was the result of a 2013 study published by the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. In it, rats were exposed to controlled doses of vanilla. After 45 days, there was a significant reduction in the rats’ cholesterol profiles. While the cholesterol-reducing benefits of vanilla on humans are not fully understood yet, it is promising.

  1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Why is vanilla good for your skin? Typically, inflammation is a good thing. It is merely the body’s response to any outside threat like microbes. However, when it persists due to certain conditions, it can be uncomfortable and unpleasant.

Thanks to its antioxidant content, vanilla is a potent anti-inflammatory substance. This makes it a great addition to massage oils to help soothe inflamed or irritated skin. Eating anti-inflammatory foods may also help relieve pain for conditions such as arthritis.

  1. Lifts Your Spirits Up

We all know how great desserts are. When you’re unhappy, what do you do? Eat chocolate! Or when you’re extra depressed, a tub of vanilla ice cream all to yourself.

Well, it turns out there’s a scientific basis behind that. Vanilla, in particular, can be an effective anti-depressant. Another 2013 study on mice showed that exposure to vanillin reduced depression. The effect was significant and was comparable to an anti-depressant drug.

And while the anti-depressant benefits of vanilla might not work for everyone, its pleasant aroma might! Sometimes, that’s all it takes to lift your mood!

  1. It’s Great For Your Hair

There’s a reason some shampoos and hair products contain vanilla. It has a significant effect on your hair! Again, we have antioxidants to thank for that. Aside from helping repair cells, it also helps prevent damage to our hair follicles. This promotes healthy hair growth and delays hair loss.

One of the easiest ways to enjoy the benefits of vanilla is through making your own extract. Simply steep high-quality vanilla beans in alcohol (usually vodka) for a day or two, and voila! Your very own vanilla you can use to promote a healthier you.

Is Food Dye Safe?

Is Food Dye Safe?

One of the most controversial hot buttons in the food industry: “Is food dye safe?”

The use of food dye has been documented in reports dating back to the mid-1800s. The use of artificial food dyes is reported to have increased by 500% in the last 50 years, according to Healthline.

Children are the largest consumers of food dyes, due to the extensive use in soft drinks, candies, snacks, ice cream, and baked goods—all of which happen to be childhood favourites.

Food dye is available in both artificial or natural forms:

  • Natural food dye is safe to eat and is derived from plants, and sometimes even insects.
  • Artificial food dye is made from petroleum products. It is cheap to mass produce, and many colours can be made, unlike in natural food colouring, where you are limited to the colours available in nature.

So, to answer the controversial question, “Is Food Dye Safe?”, we must answer a few other common questions:

  • Is Food Colouring Bad for Your Health?A lot of research has been done to answer the perennial question,“Is food dye safe?”Natural food dye is safe and can be used repeatedly; there is no controversy there. The problem arises with artificial food colouring. Although the FDA and EFSA have both concluded that dyes do not pose significant health risk, some people are of a different school of thought.

Studies have been conducted to identify if food dyes are safe—and, more specifically, whether they can cause cancer. The research done has not yet provided conclusive evidence that food dyes can cause cancer in humans; Red 3 is the only food dye that was shown to increase thyroid tumours in rats.

Further research on Erythrosine (component in Red3) later concluded that it doesn’t cause cancer, but Red 3 is still not extensively used. Some dyes have been shown to contain cancer causing contaminants or carcinogens, but in very small quantities that are considered safe

There are only six food dyes that are approved by both the FDA and EFSA. Some food dyes are approved in some countries and banned in others, causing a lot of controversy on whether or not they are safe.

However, part of the answer to “Is food dye safe?” is that consuming a lot of artificial food dye containing contaminants can cause health risks; some artificial food dyes have been shown to cause allergic reactions.

  • Is Food Colouring Safe to Drink?When taken in safe doses, food colouring is safe to drink. It is used in many soft drinks, juices, and sport drinks.
  • Does Red Dye Affect Children’s Behaviour?The first claim that food dyes cause behavioural changes in children was made in 1973 by a paediatrician. His claim was that food dyes and preservatives cause hyperactivity and learning problems in children. Many studies have been done to validate these claims. An analysis of 15 of these studies done in 2004 concluded that food dyes can cause hyperactivity in children. However, not all children react the same way.

So…is food dye safe? The bottom line is that food dyes are safe for most people, and with the regulatory bodies conducting ongoing tests and continuously studying the different dyes, they remain safe for use.