Friday, January 25, 2013

Helpful Herbs: Vanilla


Vanilla is one of the most widely used spices in the world.  When we think of vanilla we thing of mouth-watering vanilla bean ice cream, vanilla-scented candles, sugar cookies, potent little vanilla bean pods and aromatic extracts.  It's comforting and exotic at once. But did you know that this unique and universally popular spice has some potentially great health benefits?

Anti-Cancer
A compound called vanillin is the main constituent of vanilla extracts. It has been studied and found to have an anti-cancer effect on cervical, breast, prostate, and colon cancers.  
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20668316
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15854801
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19679064
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21992488

Anti-oxidant, Anti-Mutagen
Another main constituent of vanilla called vanillic acid is a potent anti-oxidant.  
And when combined with cinnamon, vanillin was found to be a potent anti-mutagen. 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17178418

Safe for Skin
Unless someone is allergic to vanilla (which is quite rare), vanilla is non-irritating and non-sensitizing, and safe to use on skin. In fact, when skin comes in contact with capsaicin, the compound in hot peppers responsible for the burning feeling, skin cells can partially neutralize it by breaking it down to vanillin and vanillic acid, which doesn't irritate the skin.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22950880
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18180272

Heart Health
Because of its strong anti-oxidant capabilities, vanillic acid is heart-healthy.  This animal study found that vanillin protected the hearts of rats who were given chemicals that induced inflammation and cardiotoxicity.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21763302  (Poor rats!)

The trouble with vanilla is that we usually eat it with loads of sugar, like in ice cream and cookies, so the pro-oxidant activity of the sugar, refined grains and dairy would likely negate the benefits of the vanilla. But if you can figure out a way to add vanilla to your diet in a healthy way, perhaps in low-carb coconut pancakes, along with other beneficial herbs and spices in an herbal tea, or in a creamy avocado and coconut smoothie, you can get all the delicious flavor and powerful punch of antioxidants that vanilla delivers.

4 comments:

Henry vincenty said...

Hi,

nice study you have done on vanilla, thanks:o)!

br
Henry

Monica (GA) said...

Thanks Stephanie, I love vanilla!! My kids and I often take plain low fat yogurt (greek or european style) or kefir with vanilla powder and maybe a pinch of sugar or a little honey. Simple and much better than buying vanilla yogurt or kefir, which are usually too sweet.

Anonymous said...

Where can I buy bubble and bee online? I live in Australia and your site said you don't ship out if the states so where else can I buy your products from? I'm very eager to try them! Thakyou :)

Stephanie Greenwood said...

@Anonymous--send us an e-mail at info [at] bubbleandbee.com for more info!