4 powerful ways vanilla helps fight disease

While the debate about which flavor is best — vanilla or chocolate ice cream — will likely go on for eternity, there is no debate that vanilla is a terribly under-rated spice.

After saffron, known to be incredibly expensive, vanilla is the world’s most expensive spice. The humble vanilla bean is actually a delicacy.

The tiny black seeds inside those pods give their rich flavor to creamy vanilla ice cream, fuel our passion for vanilla lattes and even fill our homes with the sweet scent of vanilla.

But, beyond its delightful flavor and aroma, the vanilla bean is the source of a wide range of health benefits you may not know about…

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1. Vanilla’s anti-cancer properties

Vanilla is both anti-mutagenic and anti-angiogenic. It inhibits the two major biological processes that allow cancer cells to grow.

One study showed that vanillin, the primary component of the extract of the vanilla bean, could reduce the frequency of mutation in colon cells by 64%. Colon cells have a very high turnover rate. New cells replace old ones frequently, making mutations more likely. This makes the effects of vanillin even more impressive.

Scientists have also found that ethyl vanillin inhibits angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels, by slowing the production of nitric oxide in tumor cells, effectively cutting off their oxygen supply.

2. Vanilla fights bacteria

A 2014 study at the University of Bucharest showed that vanilla essential oil could slow the development of a strain of Staph bacteria.

The antibacterial activity of vanilla protects the immune system, which lowers stress on the body, and makes it easier to recover from illness or injury.

3. Less inflammation and better digestion

Vanillin has long been known to soothe inflammation throughout the body, easing the pain of gout and arthritis. It’s also been proven effective in protecting against liver inflammation.

The smell or taste of vanilla aids digestion, decreases headaches, relieves upset stomach, and controls vomiting and diarrhea. A vanilla-infused tea can be a comfort when stomach upset strikes.

4. Mineral-rich vanilla calms and soothes

Not only is vanilla good for what ails your stomach, it can help elevate your mood.

In 2004, researchers used mood mapping to determine that a whiff of vanilla bean elevated participants’ feelings of joy and relaxation.

In a 2013 study, vanillan’s antidepressant effects on mice were comparable to the effects of the antidepressant Prozac.

Vanilla’s mineral content plays a part in stress reduction:

  • Magnesium – relaxes nervous tension, and helps maintain healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
  • Potassium – helps maintain regular heart contractions, balances the body’s electrolytes, and helps relax blood vessels
  • Calcium – reduces the production of cortisol, our stress hormone

How to get more vanilla in your life

There are two ways to add vanilla to your recipes and enjoy its flavor and aroma. You can purchase vanilla extract, or use the seeds of the vanilla bean.

Chemically produced vanilla extract can contain a lot of impurities and contaminants. Here are a few tips for finding the purest vanilla extract:

  • Look for the FDA seal on the bottle to avoid consuming the chemical coumarin. The FDA has banned the use of coumarin in vanilla extract. Coumarin is a fragrant chemical, also found in Cassia cinnamon. Consuming too much coumarin has been linked to liver damage.The FDA does allow other additives in vanilla extract, such as glycerin, propylene glycol, sugar, dextrose, and corn syrup. For the best health rewards, look for pure vanilla extract, which should contain vanilla bean extractives in a water and alcohol solution.
  • Beware of rock-bottom prices in discount stores or small markets. Remember, vanilla is a very expensive product to harvest and produce. If the price of the bottle you’re holding is too low, chances are it’s far from pure.

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How to use vanilla beans

Each vanilla bean contains over 25,000 seeds that are full of rich flavor. One vanilla bean is equivalent to about three teaspoons of vanilla extract.

When buying vanilla beans, look for plump ones that are glossy on the outside and bend a little. Dull, brittle beans are too old, and the seeds will not come out easily.

Store your beans away from heat or light, and use them within a few weeks, before they dry out.

To harvest the seeds, simply slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and run the knife along the bean to scrape out the seeds.  Use them as soon as possible.

Editor’s note: Discover how to live a cancer prevention lifestyle — using foods, vitamins, minerals and herbs — as well as little-known therapies allowed in other countries but denied to you by American mainstream medicine. Click here to discover Surviving Cancer! A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Causes, Treatments and Big Business Behind Medicine’s Most Frightening Diagnosis!


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  2. The Cancer-Fighting Benefits of Vanilla Extract No One Ever Talks About — Healthy-Holistic-Living.com
  3. Vanilla Fights Cancer — It Causes Cancer Cells to Commit Suicide — CollectiveWizdom.com
  4. 10 Impressive Benefits Of Vanilla — Organic Information Services Pvt Ltd.
  5. Why Vanilla Beans Are Absolutely Worth It — Dr. Joseph Mercola
  6. Nutritional Benefits of Vanilla Bean for Your Mind and Mood — One Green Planet
  7. Efficiency of vanilla, patchouli and ylang ylang essential oils stabilized by iron oxide@C14 nanostructures against bacterial adherence and biofilms formed by Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae clinical strainsMolecules
  8. Studies on the antioxidant activities of natural vanilla extract and its constituent compounds through in vitro modelsJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
  9. 5 Health Benefits of Vanilla You Never Knew! — Dr.EricZ.com
  10. Comparative studies on the antioxidant potential of vanillin-producing Saccharomyces boulardii extractsOxidants and Antioxidants in Medical Science
  11. Evaluation of antidepressant activity of vanillin in miceIndian Journal of Pharmacology
  12. Activity of aspirin analogues and vanillin in a human colorectal cancer cell lineOncology Reports
  13. Evaluation of the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective properties of vanillin in carbon tetrachloride-treated ratsEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
  14. It’s About Time You Knew Exactly Where Vanilla Comes FromThe Huffington Post
  15. Vanilla Beans — Medical Medium Blog
  16. When Vanilla Was Brown And How We Came To See It As White — NPR
  17. Anti-inflammatory and phytochemical properties of twelve medicinal plants used for treating gastro-intestinal ailments in South AfricaJournal of Ethnopharmacology
  18. FAQ on coumarin in cinnamon and other foods — Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR)
  19. 5 Health Benefits of Natural Vanilla — DrJockers.com
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.