Vanilla bean pod can transform a good dessert into a sweet dish that will be remembered by your friends and family as a culinary masterpiece. Vanilla bean pod is an essential flavor for truly unforgettable desserts.
People usually purchase vanilla extract, but what is vanilla bean pod and where does it come from? Vanilla bean pod is picked from orchids of the genus Vanilla. This plant is grown mainly in Madagascar, Indonesia, and islands of the southwestern Indian Ocean. When vanilla bean pod is picked, it has no flavor. It is placed in hot water, then dried under the sun for up to six months. After this period, vanilla bean pod develops the unique vanilla scent and taste that we love.
Up until the 19th century, Mexico was the leading exporter of vanilla. After the Aztecs were conquered, vanilla arrived in Spain, and from there, it expanded to the rest of Europe, becoming one of the most common ice-cream flavors. Today, vanilla is one of the most popular food ingredients used to prepare desserts, and it’s the second most expensive spice after saffron.
The Difference Between Vanilla Bean Pod and Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract is the most common form of vanilla. You can easily find it in grocery stores in the United States and in most parts of the world. Vanilla bean pod is taken directly from the plant, while vanilla extract is created by mixing vanilla bean pod with alcohol. When the contact between vanilla bean pods and alcohol occurs, vanilla beans release vanillin, which is the compound responsible for vanilla’s unique taste. Vanilla extract appears as a dark brown liquid and is used to flavor desserts.
Vanilla extract may not be all it’s cracked up to be, at least not the kind you’re finding in your grocery store aisle. Experts believe that vanilla extract that is sold commercially is not derived from vanilla beans, but from lignin, a partially synthetic compound that can be used to create vanillin. If you buy vanilla extract in grocery stores, chances are you will not get the benefits of this food ingredient, so the best thing you can do is make your own vanilla extract. When purchasing vanilla beans, make sure they are plump, glossy, and smooth. They should have a fresh and fragrant smell.
One serving of pure vanilla extract contains about 37 calories, carbohydrates, and small traces of calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and B vitamins.
Benefits of Vanilla Bean Pod
Most people love vanilla bean pod scent and sweet taste, but vanilla beans can also offer great health benefits.
May Help Prevent Diseases
Vanillin is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help the body fight free radicals. Oxidative stress can lead to the development of a variety of health conditions, including cancer. Additional studies on the antioxidant properties of vanilla extract showed that vanilla extract antioxidant components can be used for food preservation and added to health supplements.
Vanilla also has antibacterial properties. A team of researchers investigated the effects of vanilla against bacterial adherence and found that vanilla exhibited anti-adherence properties.
May Reduce Inflammation
Home remedies can help keep colds and coughs from lingering and affecting your quality of life. You can add vanilla extract to drinks and warm liquids to help reduce inflammation. Vanilla extract can bring you relief when you have a sore throat, and it can also help your body fight the free radicals that may be exacerbating the infection or illness.
A study conducted on rats to evaluate the effect of vanillin on liver injury showed that its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities can have beneficial effects on the liver, preventing free radicals from causing damage.
Supports Mental Health
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, vanilla may also reduce anxiety and depression. Inflammation can trigger a variety of diseases and affect mental health. When you experience stress, the brain releases cytokines, small proteins that affect cell signaling and trigger proinflammatory behavior. Too many cytokines in the body can cause mental disorders.
By reducing inflammation, vanillin may also reduce the risk of anxiety. A study conducted on mice on the antidepressant activity of vanillin showed promising results. Mice were given vanillin and subsequently subjected to a swim test, which showed that vanillin reduced the immobility duration. Researchers concluded that vanillin at the dosage of 100 mg/kg has an antidepressant effect in mice. Vanillin can offer results similar to fluoxetine, a drug used to treat depression.
A preliminary study conducted on rats showed that vanillin at a dose of 200 and 400 mg/kg body lowered the levels of bad cholesterol in high-fat diet induced rats.
The long history of vanilla’s medicinal properties shows that this food ingredient may be used for its aphrodisiac and digestive properties. The scent of this herb may reduce nausea and prevent gastrointestinal disorders.
How to Use Vanilla Bean Pod
Vanilla beans are packed with flavor. One vanilla bean is equivalent to 3 tablespoons of vanilla extract, so you might need just part of it to make a recipe. For baking, you can use the pods or the tiny seeds inside the vanilla pod and add them to creams. From cakes to cupcakes and smoothies (try our Matcha Chia Pudding Bowl!), vanilla can make all your desserts extra delicious!