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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.