Health Benefits of Vanilla

Vanilla extract is so much more than the flavoring that you pour into your cakes and loaves. It’s a super food that comes with a whole host of health benefits that you probably knew nothing about, which is a shame. So, what exactly is vanilla extract? It’s made from soaking vanilla pods in alcohol, which creates a deep and complex flavor chock full of over 250 taste components. Authentic vanilla extract is worth the extra cost; it’s jam packed with properties that can not only lower your need for unhealthy sweeteners and flavor boosters but reduce inflammation and anxiety while keeping you healthy. How many other flavoring ingredients can say that? Keep reading to find out why you should cook more with vanilla to complement your fit lifestyle—your health may just thank you.

1. High in Antioxidants

Antioxidants have become a power word in the health industry, so it’s no shocker that we’ve started to gravitate towards foods with high antioxidant properties like berries, carrots, spinach, and even red wine (although we may gravitate towards red wine for more than just the antioxidants). Antioxidants help arm your body against the free radicals that your body absorbs through chemicals, smoke, pollution, and more. These free radicals can cause long-lasting damage to your body, so the more antioxidants you can consume, the better. Vanilla extract is a known antioxidant, which makes it a smart addition to your cooking and baking.

2. Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation can be painful and uncomfortable, and finding ways to combat it naturally through diet can only benefit you in the long run. While you can definitely take out inflammatory foods from your diet, it’s also a good idea to add in foods that are naturally anti-inflammatory like vanilla. In fact, vanilla has even been shown in one animal study to reduce liver injury, making it a power ingredient for more reasons than one. Use vanilla extract strategically during times you’re more likely to feel inflammation, or on a consistent basis to see a noticeable reduction in inflammation.

Pro-tip: Did you overdo it with that new Body Bar you just scored? While exercise has been shown to lower inflammation in the body, too much cause cause it. Add a teaspoon of vanilla to your post-workout smoothie to help ease inflammation.

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3. Known Aphrodisiac

A much more exciting way to use vanilla extract is for it’s possible aphrodisiac properties. There’s no doubt about it: getting frisky is absolutely beneficial to your health. From reducing stress to getting you active, it’s good to get busy with your partner. And if something happens to help you get busy more often than you would otherwise, it can only help boost your love life and your health. Aphrodisiacs can help get you and your partner in the mood, and what’s better than the deliciously smelling and tasting vanilla?

4. Flavor Your Foods

Another subtle health benefit of vanilla extract is that it’s a healthy addition to most foods. It has a strong, noticeable flavor, which means you don’t have to use much of it to pack a punch and you can cut down on other unhealthy ingredients like sugar or butter without sacrificing flavor. Use it in baking, in salad dressings, marinades, cream sauces, and more for delicious, low-calorie flavor. Find great recipes using vanilla extract here.

5. Boost Mental Health

If everything else is isn’t enough to convince you to use more vanilla in your diet, this might: vanilla extract has been shown to have anti-depressant properties, and not just because it tastes delicious. Whether it’s due to the antioxidants or anti-inflammatory properties, vanilla extract can help reduce anxiety and depression and that’s incredible all on its own.

While it’s definitely not a cure and the benefits may be subtle, using more vanilla extract in your diet could have a ripple effect of positivity in your life and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

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