Are you a vanilla or a chocolate person?
While the health benefits of dark chocolate are well-known, vanilla, on the other hand, prefers to crawl under the radar a bit. Still, it’s a powerful ingredient that we use every day– but most likely take for granted in the process. Vanilla extract is often found in your chocolate chip cookies and ice cream, as it is seen in all types of recipes.
Vanilla offers great health qualities, too: it carries high amounts of antioxidants, says one study by B.N. Shyamala from the Spices and Flavour Technology Department of the Central Food Technological Research Institute. Shyamala’s study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, and found that vanilla’s antioxidants help decrease free-radical counts in your body, which are harmful to your health as they can gather to cause many serious diseases– including cancer.
“Vanilla’s anti-carcinogenic property primarily comes from the compound vanillin, a polyphenol known to be a powerful antioxidant. The essential oil of vanilla has been shown to reduce free radicals thought to promote the development of inflammation and certain cancers,” Shyamala indicates.
What’s more, vanilla extract carries a variety of other minerals and vitamins, too, like the B-complex vitamin, calcium, potassium, zinc, and magnesium. Vanilla extract has also been found to act as a mild sedative, an antidepressant, and even a warrior against inflammation caused by fevers.
Below are three other interesting facts about vanilla that you probably didn’t know about.
#1: Vanilla Is Taken From An Orchid
Vanilla comes from orchids of the vanilla plant family. Though most vanilla orchids are grown across the globe, they started in Mesoamerica, including parts of what is now Mexico and Guatemala.
#2: The Vanilla Pod Holds Thousands Of Black Seeds
Scraping these tiny pods unleashes a potent vanilla flavor, and the black seeds will color whatever it is you’re baking.
#3: Most Vanilla Now Comes From Two Islands
Seventy-five percent of vanilla being sold today comes from vanilla plants in either Madagascar or Réunion. It is often known as Bourbon vanilla, named after the island Réunion– which used to be named Île Bourbon.
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