12 Health Benefits of Vanilla

April 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Nutrition

Vanilla is often said to be the most plain flavor of ice cream, but did you know that vanilla extract itself has some properties that could help you stay healthy?

Vanilla is extracted from the vanilla bean, a creeping plant that originates from Central America. The vanilla we often find in ice creams and flavors is synthesized in the laboratory. The pure extract from vanilla beans are what you should go after for some health benefits.

Health Benefits of Vanilla

Vanilla

Vanilla

Source – j0annie

1. Help relieve nausea – Add a few drops of vanilla extract to your water, drink the water slowly, and breathe deeply. The smell of vanilla extract, as well as you forcibly drinking the water slowly, can help relieve your nausea.

2. Help in weight loss – Have you ever noticed how some gyms and dance studios often have the smell of vanilla floating around? The smell seems to encourage the brain to relax and see as exercise as a fun activity, not as a task.

Although this has not yet been substantiated by research, vanilla has been found to help encourage weight loss. You might choose to add it to your food or aromatherapy scents. Whatever you do, though, don’t rely on just vanilla. Exercise and maintain a healthy diet!

3. Help relieve stress. – Aromatherapy experts use vanilla as a relaxing agent. There’s just something about the smell of this popular bean that triggers a relaxation effect on your body, taking out stress – or the perception of stress – so that you can get better and even think straight.

Look for a vanilla oil specially designed for aromatherapy. You can get essential oils for burning, or a well-manufactured soy candle for a soothing, candlelit evening. With some vanilla in the air, a warm bath, and deep breathing, you’ll find your body all ready to face the next challenge!

4. Help regulate your menstrual cycle. – Research has still not substantiated this, so use this tip cautiously. The smell of vanilla has been found to relieve stress, so if you have an “off” menstrual cycle triggered by stress, you can also regulate it.

As for vanilla in food, there might be a link, too, although it hasn’t been backed by research yet.

5. Help stop the spread of cancer cells – Vanilla contains the antioxidant vanillin, which has been shown to stop the spread of cancerous cells in mice in recent laboratory tests. Vanillin has not yet reached the human test trial stage, so be careful and don’t overdose on that vanilla!

Nevertheless, this characteristic of vanillin shows promise! One day, it could be used to slow down cancer, or to keep cancerous cells in one location so that they can be easily removed.

6. Help prevent neurodegenerative disorders – According to recent research, vanillin also works as antioxidant by preventing the formation of peroxynitrite, a compound involved in the initiation and advancement of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

This research is still in its infancy, but it also shows that vanillin – and consequently, vanilla – could be vital not just in controlling the multiplication of cells, but in keeping aging cells healthy as well.

7. Can help regulate your sleeping patterns. – Because vanilla is a relaxant, when used prudently, it can help you sleep. And when you sleep regularly, you can regulate your sleeping patterns – instead of falling asleep because you’re stressed or tired, or waking up drowsy but not refreshed.

Although the reason for vanilla’s relaxing abilities has not yet been established, it could still help you ease out of your workday and into a much better state of mind. Couple vanilla with warm milk and deep breathing. Try out yoga poses to truly help you relax.

8. Can help slow down cell aging. – Natural aging processes can lead to cell aging, which means wrinkled skin, memory loss due to lost neuronal connections, and macular degeneration because of aging eye cells. You can counteract this by consuming vanilla, which has the antioxidant vanillin.

These anti-cell aging properties of vanillin have only begun showing up in early lab tests, so take these results with caution.

9. Can help your immune system work faster and more efficiently. – Vanilla has been shown to lower fevers and even hasten the end of sickness. This might be due to the fact that vanilla pushes your body to relax, allowing your immune system to do its work without your interference. Your interference might come in the forms of working too much, sleeping too little, and not eating right – all of which tax on your immune system.

When you’re sick, your body will react by trying to let you lie down and sleep. This is your body’s natural reaction to sickness, so don’t fight it. Don’t work or expose yourself to more germs. You can also add vanilla to your diet or your aromatherapy in order to relax yourself further.

10. Help relieve depression. – Vanilla doesn’t put you to sleep or relax you into lethargy. It actually makes your body relaxed but contented, so that you feel happier, not depressed.

The smell of vanilla in, general, can relieve depression. So the next time you feel down, have a bit of vanilla ice cream or smell some vanilla extract. You might find yourself smiling soon enough.

Nevertheless, extreme depressive feelings should make you consult your doctor as well – not just your cookbook. Talk to a specialist and don’t self medicate.

11. Help with libido. – Vanilla has been considered an aphrodisiac for years, but no research can back the claim up. Might it be because it relieves tension? Or its antioxidant properties can help rejuvenate aging cells?

Whatever the cause, the smell of vanilla might put some zing back in your sex life, so give it a try the next time you need some “encouragement” to get things started in the bedroom.

12. Might be used to treat sickle cell anemia. – It is a genetic disorder that causes red blood cells to compress into a sickle shape, instead of the biconcave discs that they usually are. The biconcave discs are the most conducive to carrying oxygen, so people with sickle cell anemia tend to tire out faster and have a hard time catching their breath.

Vanillin has been shown in initial research tests to take out the sickle shape, so that red blood cells can capture and carry oxygen easily. Although this is still in its infancy, such research does show promise for this antioxidant, and for vanilla, too.

You can buy vanilla beans in your grocery store, or look for extracts that are from pure vanilla bean.

You can add vanilla to water or milk. You can even make vanilla pudding or pie. Vanilla has some health benefits, which scientists today have found thanks to good research. Who knows? With even more research, vanilla might be even less plain, and more colorful on the health front!

About the Guest Author – Inez Ponce de Leon is a writer and researcher, and loves to keep herself active through dance. She also loves writing about health and loves to give health advice. Her work focuses on looking critically at health claims, in particular, Healthy Trim reviews and gauging the potency of brain supplements. She loves to belly dance and fuse different styles with traditional steps in the dance; she also teaches belly dance and loves to teach her students how to be active and strong through muscle control and isolation.

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