Vanilla beans are one of the more popular spices enjoyed across the world. The delicious flavor as well as the enticing aroma of the vanilla bean is enjoyed in a variety of ways. Vanilla grows from a vine called the Vanilla planifolia, which is a member of the orchid family. The vine is native to Central and South America is grows up to eight foot in length, winding its way up trees. Vanilla is used in ice creams, baked desserts, yogurts and creamy drinks. Vanilla also has many healing properties and can relieve anxiety as well as support a healthy weight.
The luscious flavor of the vanilla bean not only satisfies the taste buds, there are also multiple health benefits derived from this small bean, both consuming it and the affects that its scent has in calming the mind and re-energizing the body. Below are some of the ways that the vanilla bean enhances health.
- Cancer Prevention: The antioxidants found in the vanilla bean help eliminate the body of free radicals, which play a role in the development of cancer.
- Supports a Healthy Heart: Properties in the vanilla bean help rid the body of the LDL, or bad cholesterol, which can be dangerous to the heart. Studies indicate that by consuming vanilla, it can actually increase healthy heart function.
- Natural Anti-Inflammatory Properties: The anti-inflammatory properties in the vanilla bean not only help with joint pain and arthritis but it actually helps alleviate inflammation in the liver.
- Rich In Antioxidants: The vanilla bean is rich in beneficial antioxidants and antibacterial properties which help fight against sickness and disease. The antioxidants also help eliminate the body of dangerous toxins that cause chronic and debilitating disease.
- Great For the Skin: Vanilla helps improve the skin’s tone, relieve acne irritation and inflammation and support healing of the skin. It is often added to skincare products because of its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
#6 Helps Relieve Stress And Anxiety: The aroma of the vanilla bean has been shown to improve the mood and release “feel good” hormones. It is often used in aromatherapy due to its ability to help relieve stress and anxiety. Additionally, the vanillin scent has been used for centuries to promote a sense of calm, which directly enhances nerve health.
About the Vanilla Bean
The vanilla bean plant is actually quite finicky and requires a tropical climate and regular fertilization. In its natural environment, it depends on pollination from bees or hummingbirds but in the commercial crop this is done by hand. However, the window in which to pollinate the flowering plant so the vanilla bean pods will grow consists of mere hours. The pods take approximately six to nine months to mature enough for harvesting, which must be done by hand. Once the beans are harvested, they require a curing process, which is done manually as well. This explains why the vanilla bean is one of the more expensive spices.
There are four distinct varieties of the vanilla bean which include the Madagascar vanilla, also referred to as Bourbon vanilla, as well as West Indian, Tahitian and Mexican vanilla.
Recognizing the nutritional and therapeutic benefits of the vanilla bean, the vanilla flavor should not be viewed as plain vanilla. Go ahead indulge your senses in the fragrance and flavor of the vanilla bean.