Vanilla is harvested from the pod of a tropical climbing orchid that is native to Mexico. It is the only member of the orchid family that bears fruit. It was first used by ancient Totonac Indians who had to relinquish control of the exotic fruit when they were defeated by the Aztecs.
The Spanish defeated the Aztecs and returned home with vanilla beans. Only nobility and the very rich had the privilege of enjoying vanilla beans. In time, although vanilla remained expensive, it became widespread across the European continent.
Vanilla pods are often referred to as beans which are picked before they ripen and plunged into hot water. The pods are then laid out to dry from two to six months. The vanilla pod itself contains a thousand of small black seeds.
With its classic presence in sauces, desserts and ice cream, to name a few, vanilla is also used as an oil and a major component in fragrances. Not a lot of people know that vanilla beans, in truth, form part of a long list of superfoods and that they boast an array of nutritional and health benefits.
Superfoods are foods that are for the greater part plant-based but can contain some fish and dairy. These foods are nutrient-dense and particularly good for a person’s health. Some of these include blueberries, salmon, kale and acai – which are just a few examples.
Due to hectic lifestyles, people cannot always incorporate meals that are nutritious daily. Being subjected to hectic schedules and having very little time in which to prepare healthy meals for the entire family, fast foods and quick meals tend to dominate our daily food intake, which (in the long run) have devastating effects to our health.
To try and counter the effects that these foods have on our body, superfoods have become increasingly more popular and more people are trying to incorporate them into their diets.
Some of the easiest ways to incorporate superfoods into meals without it becoming an absolute chore is by adding them to smoothies, sauces, salads, stir fry, and so many other ways.
Where do vanilla beans fit in as a “superfood”?
The first indicator of it as a superfood is that vanilla beans are purely organic and derived from a plant. For centuries vanilla has been used as a true medicinal food that is especially powerful as it has properties that enhance the brain and moods through its provision of vitamins and minerals, and it being nutrient-dense, like other foods considered superfoods.
It contains a lot of minerals essential to our health
Vanilla beans contain magnesium which is necessary for overall health as it aids in the regulating of the nervous system along with acting as a balancing mineral.
Plant-based foods are extremely rich in potassium with vanilla beans being no exception. A tablespoon of vanilla powder contains over 100 milligrams of potassium, which is essential for healthy blood pressure levels along with assisting in water regulation in the body, bringing balance to the body’s electrolytes and ensuring heart contractions staying within normal margins.
Calcium can be found in numerous amount of foods, especially superfoods. Vanilla beans contain an abundant amount of calcium which is essential in the reduction of cortisol in the body and bone health, of course.
Vanilla beans also contain manganese, which essential to maintain a healthy mood, metabolism, optimal nervous system function and the assimilation of other nutrients.
Little do people know that along with aiding in maintaining moods, vanilla beans also contain aphrodisiac properties (right along with chocolate). Although superfoods that contain this are not only good for the libido, they also enhance hormones associated with love and happiness of which oxytocin and dopamine are two of these.
The benefits of incorporating vanilla beans into your diet
Seeing that vanilla has been used for medicinal properties for centuries, it’s necessary to take a closer look at the effects of consuming vanilla. Not only does it taste great and is it used to enhance the flavor of food, but it is known to aid in treating intestinal gas and fever.
Vanilla has anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antitumor properties but it promotes heart health by reducing cholesterol levels and it has healing properties as it is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent the breakdown of cells and tissue in the body while simultaneously stimulating the body’s natural ability to regrow and produce cells and tissue.
Vanilla beans can aid in weight loss when used in accordance with other superfoods in an eating plan as vanilla assists the body and helps the metabolism run more efficiently.
What are the side effects of consuming vanilla beans or powder?
Like with all things, the general rule is moderation. Vanilla taken in moderate amounts has amazing benefits for our health, but with overconsumption, there are side effects like inflammation, headaches, and insomnia in some people.
Before jumping on the bandwagon of living a healthier lifestyle by incorporating superfoods into a diet, it is necessary to do the research to ensure that daily nutritional limits are not exceeded.
What’s the best way to go about it?
The first step is to obtain whole vanilla beans and then scraping the powder out, or by buying vanilla bean powder instead. It’s cheaper to buy whole beans, although buying the powder proves to be a lot more convenient.
There are a lot of recipes that can be found on the internet that will provide creative and tasty ways to incorporate vanilla beans and vanilla powder into your daily life. Either by using it in a smoothie, coffee, desserts, shakes, and others.
Making vanilla beans a part of your daily meal plan along with other superfoods is therefore a great way to ensure that you get your daily dose of nutrients needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Vanilla beans, along with other superfoods, are easily obtainable from most major supermarkets and health shops, so it is not a tedious task to keep stock of this superfood.