Vanilla beans are fruit pods produced by tropical climbing orchids, Vanilla planifolia, Vanilla pompona and Vanilla tahitiensis. Among the 3 cultivars, V.planifolia is the most common worldwide. The beans are pleasantly fragrant and have been used since the ancient time by Mayan people to flavor their chocolate drinks. Even now, vanilla is used worldwide for giving sweet fragrant to foods and drinks, such as cakes, cookies, and vanilla milk.
Vanilla beans are highly priced. They are native to tropical rainforests in Central America, but now already spread to other tropical countries because of European explorers. Now, vanilla beans are grown commercially in Madagascar, Indonesia, India, Puerto Rico and West Indies.
We may buy vanilla in its dry brown pods or vanilla extracts. The pods undergo some process until they are dry and dark-brown like we usually find in stores. The unripe pods are harvested when they reach 13-20 cm length, and begin to have light-yellow color. Then they are blanched briefly in boiling water, then dried in the sun for 2-3 weeks until they become dry, thin, shriveled and have dark-brown color.
The liquid vanilla extract is made by softening chopped vanilla beans in ethyl alcohol and water, and the mixture is continously circulated in 1300F for 48 hours, until a pure, brown extract is acquired.
Vanilla beans are rich in minerals such as manganese, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants. Let’s take a look in the table below for complete nutritional value of 100 grams of vanilla extract.
|Component||Amount/ 100 g||% Daily Value|
|Total carbohydrates||12,65 g||10 %|
|Total dietary fiber||0 g||0 %|
|Folates||0 mcg||0 %|
|Niacin||0,425 mg||3 %|
|Pantothenic acid||0,035 mg||0,5 %|
|Pyridoxine||0,026 mg||2 %|
|Riboflavin||0,95 mg||7 %|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0 %|
|Vitamin C||0 mg||0 %|
|Sodium||9 mg||0,5 %|
|Potassium||148 mg||3 %|
|Calcium||11 mg||1 %|
|Copper||0,072 mg||8 %|
|Iron||0,12 mg||1,5 %|
|Magnesium||12 mg||3 %|
|Manganese||0,230 mg||10 %|
|Phosphorus||6 mg||1 %|
|Selenium||0 mcg||0 %|
|Zinc||0,11 mg||1 %|
Percent Daily Value is based on 2000 Kcal. Your daily value may depend on age, sex, health status and physical activities.
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Vanilla extracts are used as an ingredients in many hair and skin care products. Pure vanilla extracts also have medicinal properties, which can be beneficial for us if we consume it regularly. Thus, here are the health benefits of vanilla bean that you need to know.
1. Helps Weight Loss
Vanilla extract contains some substance which can help in losing weight. As we all know, obesity can lead to various diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases. Although exercise and diet have primary role in weight loss, the efforts can be supplemented with the intake of vanilla extract to fasten the weight loss program.
2. Treatment of Digestive Problems
Vanilla extract can help calm the stomach in case of feeling nausea. Vanilla has been used as traditional medicine for vomiting and stomach upsets. The scent is effective in easing nausea and queasiness. There are a few ways to take the benefit of vanilla in this case: first, drinking vanilla infused herbal tea. The second, boiling water and vanilla beans, then drink the decoction slowly. The third, adding a few drops of vanilla extract to a glass of water and sip it slowly.
3. Treatment of Cough and Fever
Cough syrups often use vanilla extract as a flavoring agent to cover the bitter taste. The mild anaesthetic, antibacterial, and antiinflamatory properties in vanilla extract can relieve cough symptoms such as pain from sore throat, fever and headache.
If cough syrup with vanilla etract is difficult to find, we can add vanilla extract to a glass of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar. This medication is especially effective on children, since children like the sweet taste of vanilla.
4. High Antioxidants
The pleasant flavor and health benefits of vanilla extracts come from about 200 compounds which have antioxidant effects. Antioxidants are needed to fight free radicals. As we already know, free radicals can cause various degenerative diseases such as cancers, heart diseases, alzheimer and dementia. Consuming vanilla extract regularly can help us slow down the degenerative process in our body. Moreover, antioxidants also play great role in maintaining beauty.
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5. Dental Health
Vanillin, a major compound found in vanilla extract, is similar to capsaicin in chilli peppers and euganols in cinnamon. It is an effective pain reliever and topical anaesthetic. Adding a few drops of vanilla extract in water as mouthwash can help fight toothache and maintain healthy mouth cavity.
Vanilla Bean for Sexual Tricks
Vanilla has been used as an aphrodisiac since ancient times, especially among Mayan people. Some researches in aromatherapy show that vanilla can increase sexual desire by boosting testosterone levels in men. Regular intake of vanilla is effective in curing impotency. The arome induces feelings of pleasure. This is also the reason why vanilla is often used in perfume industry, since it can elevate sexual moods.
7. Treatment of Menstrual Problems
Since ancient time, vanilla extract has been used to regulate mentrual cycles. This is important when a couple is having pregnancy program. The regular intake of vanilla extract is used by women who have irregular periods to regulate their cycles.
Vanilla Beans for Skin Treatments
8. Acne Treatment
Vanilla extract has antibacterial properties. It is used as ingredients in acne treatment products. Regular application of vanilla extract with carrier oil (coconut oil, argan oil, or olive oil) helps cleanse the skin, reducing the occurrence of pimples and acne.
Vanilla is widely used in cosmetic and skin care industries for its fragrance and anti-ageing benefits. Vanilla is rich in antioxidants which prevent skin damage caused by free radicals. The antioxidants helps delay signs of ageing on skin like fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots. We can also make home remedy by infusing raw vanilla beans in organic oil, and apply it regularly on skin.
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10. Heals Burns and Wounds
Vanilla has been used since ancient time as traditional medicine to heal burns, wounds and cuts. The antibacterial properties in vanilla help fight infections and promote healing. Vanilla extract mixed with carrier oil can be applied on burns, wounds, and cuts. But we should not apply pure concentrated vanilla extract directly on skin, it must be mixed with carrier oil such as argan, coconut, mineral or olive oil.
11. Promotes Healthy Skin
Vanilla contains vitamin B which play important role in maintaining healthy skin. Antioxidants in vanilla protect the skin from damage caused by pollutions and toxins. We can prepare a scrub to revive our skin: we just need to slice open 5 vanilla beans and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 drops vanilla essential oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice in a container, mix the ingredients and apply it on the face. Massage the face for 3-5 minutes then rinse it off with warm water.
Vanilla Beans for Hair Treatments
Meanwhile, vanilla bean is also beneficial for hair tricks. Here is it:
12. Promotes Hair Growth and Silky Hair
Vanilla mixed carrier oil can make our hair silky, shiny and smooth. We can prepare a hair mask at home. Melt about 120 grams of hea butter in a boiler, then add 5 drops of vanilla essential oil and 2 tablespoons of each almond, jojoba and castor oil. Let it cool down; after cooling, blend the mixture and apply it on the hair and scalp,Cover the hair with warm towel and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Then wash off with shampoo. The excess mixture can be stored in refrigerator for future use.
Vanilla Bean for Psychological
Then, despite the health benefits of vanilla bean, it also works for psychological treatment.
13. Treatment of Anxiety and Depression
Some neurological researches have proven that vanilla extract has positive effect on people with depression and anxiety disorders. Vanilla scent is specifically helpful. Sipping water, tea or milk containing vanilla extract helps reduce anxiety.
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Vanilla beans are expensive but very useful. While vanilla beans might be expensive and difficult to find, we can find pure vanilla extract in grocery stores. If it is difficult to find vanilla extract, we still can take benefits of vanilla by consuming vanilla-flavored foods and drinks.
It is easy to find foods and drinks contained vanilla, for example vanilla ice cream, vanilla cake and cookies, and vanilla milk. Since it has plenty of benefits, it is good to add vanilla in our diet.