Vanilla: The Next Super Spice

Daphna Havkin-Frenkel, June 2010

The benefits and discoveries behind the most famous flavor in the world . . .

Vanilla is becoming the next super spice (food). Aside from its traditional uses, modern science reveals that there is more to vanilla than great taste. Continuing studies support the concept that vanilla may have health benefits from its natural phenolic compounds. These unique attributes along with its one-of-a-kind flavor elevate vanilla to be unmatched and indispensable.

The fruit (bean) of vanilla plants, a climbing orchid, is a source of a large array of vanilla products, which are used extensively in foods, cosmetics, and personal care products. The vanilla species used in commerce consist of Vanillaplanifolia and Vanilla tahitensis. Since its discovery in Mexico and introduction by the Spanish Conquistadores around 400 years ago the use of vanilla beans and vanilla products has grown steadily. Vanilla products have become the world’s most used and important flavor, as seen by vanilla cultivation in warm-zone regions such as Mexico, Madagascar, Uganda, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and India.

Bakto Flavors LLC is dedicated to the promotion of vanilla products including vanilla beans, vanilla extracts, blends, vanilla concentrates, various vanilla-sugars, ground vanilla beans, vanilla salt and vanilla liqueur. Vanilla products find extensive use in the new emerging trend of culinology

As importantly, vanilla is known to carry significant health benefits, arising principally from abundant phenolics compounds in vanilla beans. Phenolics are naturally occurring plant constituents, which function as potent antioxidant, anti-microbial and anti-inflammation agents.

The antioxidant activity of our 1-fold 100% Madagascar vanilla extract exhibits ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) of 7,000 µmole TE/100ml extract. ORAC is a measure of antioxidant activity expressed as ORAC value in micromole Trolox Equivalent (TE), a standard antioxidant per 100 g of the food or extract to be tested.Higher numbers indicate better capacity to neutralize reactive oxygen radicals. ORAC measurement is one of the methods scientists and industry use for measuring the potential of antioxidants in foods and food additives. ORAC value of vanilla extract is higher than blueberry and 3 times higher that pomegranate juice.

Vanilla products might be used as an important source of daily antioxidant intake. Just one teaspoon of Bakto vanilla extract in milk, yogurt, coffee, tea or water provides a considerable portion of the recommended daily intake of antioxidants. Although one uses vanilla products in small portions, at the end of the day it adds up. Natural vanillin, a major component of vanilla , has been shown to exhibit antioxidant properties, antimutagenic properties as well as antifungal activity. There is compelling evidence in the scientific literature to back up the biological activity of vanilla; therefore the use of vanilla might counteract an emerging threat to public health.

Vanilla extract or vanilla beans can be added to all orange vegetable dishes (for example sweet potato, butternut squash, or celery knob). Even spaghetti and barbeque sauces can be enhanced by adding a piece of vanilla bean, allowing to reduce harsh tastes and minimize use of salt.