9 Impressive Benefits of Vanilla

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Vanilla is much more than a delicious flavor ingredient in our baked goods; it may also have a number of important benefits, possibly including its potential ability to reduce acne, improve hair growth, speed healing, reduce inflammation, prevent chronic diseases, protect the heart, and much more.

What is Vanilla?

Vanilla is an extremely popular ingredient in many different culinary preparations around the world, and the scent of vanilla is unmistakable to most people. This flavoring is derived from the orchids of the Vanilla genus, which bears fruits that are shaped like pods. These pods can range in size from 5-22cm in length and are considered of a higher quality when they are larger. However, these pods must be hand-picked at precisely the right time to ensure that the seed pods don’t pop and that they are properly ripe. Harvesting the pods is a time-intensive process, but there is a global demand for vanilla in many different forms, not only for its use in food preparation but also in natural healing. [1]

Extract, powder, whole pods, and vanilla sugar are the most common forms that you will find it in, and these can be added to countless different remedies and parts of the body. This ingredient has been and will remain one of the most trusted remedies in natural healing, as well as one of the most popular flavors for our palate.

Vanilla sticks with a flower on a wooden table

The vanilla bean isn’t just delicious and a flavor to enjoy in ice cream and desserts but also a nutritional powerhouse. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Vanilla extract
Serving Size :
Water [g]52.58
Energy 288
Energy [kJ]1205
Protein [g]0.06
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.06
Ash [g]0.26
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]12.65
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]12.65
Calcium, Ca [mg]11
Iron, Fe [mg]0.12
Magnesium, Mg [mg]12
Phosphorus, P [mg]6
Potassium, K [mg]148
Sodium, Na [mg]9
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.11
Copper, Cu [mg]0.07
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.23
Thiamin [mg]0.01
Riboflavin [mg]0.1
Niacin [mg]0.43
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.04
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.03
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.01
16:0 [g]0.01
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
18:1 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0
18:2 [g]0
18:3 [g]0
Alcohol, ethyl [g]34.4
Sources include : USDA [2]

Benefits of Vanilla

Benefits of vanilla include the following:

May Improve Heart Health

Research on the cardiovascular impact of vanilla, particularly its active ingredient, vanillin, has shown that it can measurably reduce cholesterol levels in the body. This is very important for people at high risk of heart attacks and strokes, as lower cholesterol can prevent atherosclerosis, inflammation in the arteries, and blood clots. [3]

May Have Healing Properties

Vanilla is rich in antioxidants, which can help prevent the breakdown of cells and tissues around the body, and stimulate the body’s natural regrowth. Furthermore, the potentially antibacterial nature of this remedy means that it can protect your immune system and lower stress on the body, making it much easier to recover from injury or illness. [4]

May Reduce Inflammation

For centuries, vanilla in numerous forms has been used to soothe inflammation throughout the body. This is particularly effective for inflammation of the liver, which can occur for numerous reasons, especially if you are a heavy drinker. Vanillin is a crucial part of this remedy’s beneficial effects and can help ease conditions of arthritis, gout, and other inflammatory conditions. [5]

May Aid in Hair Care

Vanilla is often included in hygiene and beauty products because of its many effects on the hair and skin. If you suffer from frequent split ends or hair loss, applying its essential oil in a carrier oil of some kind can measurably strengthen the hair and induce blood flow to the scalp, encouraging growth and more aesthetically pleasing hair. [6]

May Prevent Acne

For people who regularly struggle with acne, it can often feel like a losing battle. Fortunately, the antibacterial nature of this beneficial flower may make it a powerful ally in the battle against pimples, as it can eliminate the underlying infection and speed up the healing process of the skin. It can even reduce the appearance of scars from a particularly bad bout of acne. [7]

May Soothe Anxiety

Although some people remain skeptical of aromatherapy, some of the best natural remedies can have an effect simply through our olfactory sense. The smell of vanilla, in fact, is known to directly impact the brain and induce calmness. Therefore, the extract can be one of the best and most accessible remedies for anxiety and chronic stress. [8]

May Aid in Weight Loss

Some research has pointed to vanilla as a weight loss aid, due to its potentially appetite-suppressing properties. The extract of this plant is also known to help lower cholesterol levels, making your body and metabolism more efficient, and effectively supporting weight loss goals. [9]

May Alleviate Respiratory Conditions

When you are battling a cough, cold, or respiratory infection, any sort of analgesic or anti-inflammatory substance can be helpful. Vanilla extract can help to coat the throat when mixed with warm water and provide an anesthetic effect to the throat. The potentially antibacterial properties can also help eliminate the underlying infection or illness while easing coughs and sore throats. [10]

May Promote Healthy Digestion

There are a number of ways that vanilla has been used throughout history to optimize digestive function. The scent of this herb is known to calm feelings of nausea, while vanilla-infused herbal tea can soothe inflammation in the gut and prevent vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, and stomach upset. [11]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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