WHAT IS VANILLIN?
Vanillin is a phenolic acid and phytonutrient (a group of chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants and have multiple health benefits but are not considered essential to human health) that can be found in vanilla beans. In this article I will be looking at vanillin in greater detail and outlining its main health benefits.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF VANILLIN?
Awareness of vanilla dates back to Aztec times where it was used as a flavouring for chocolate. Europeans became aware of chocolate and vanilla in 1520. Vanillin was first isolated from vanilla by Nicolas-Theodore Gobley in 1858. In 1874 the German scientists Ferdinand Tiemann and Wilhelm Haarmann determined the chemical structure for vanillin and managed to synthesise it.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF VANILLIN?
Vanillin is a powerful antioxidant which fights damaging free radicals (harmful by-products that are released during oxygen related reactions). It may also have further health benefits but more evidence is required before these can be fully confirmed. These potential health benefits of vanillin are listed below:
– Possibly protecting the brain cells from damage and preventing mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (a mental disorder which leads to the loss of memory, thought and speech) and Parkinson’ s disease (a degenerative brain disorder which leads to a loss of mobility and speech).
– Possibly preventing and treating cancer.
– Possibly preventing sickle cell disease (a disease that leads to your body producing sickle shaped blood cells which restrict blood flow).
HOW MUCH VANILLIN DO YOU NEED?
Vanillin is not classed as an essential nutrient so no official recommended daily allowance (RDA) has been established.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN VANILLIN?
As discussed above, vanillin is found in vanilla beans with the average dry cured vanilla bean pod containing 2 grams (g) of vanillin per 100g. It can also be sourced from vanilla extract and vanillin supplements although the exact amounts these contain varies between products.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CONSUMING TOO MUCH VANILLIN?
Vanillin has been associated with inducing migraines in certain individuals but no other overdose symptoms have been established.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FAILING TO CONSUME ENOUGH VANILLIN?
Vanillin is not classed as an essential nutrient so there are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with its consumption.
Although the health benefits of vanillin have not been fully established, it is still a worthwhile addition to your spice cabinet. Not only is it a powerful antioxidant but it may also help you fight cancer, prevent mental disorders and keep your blood healthy. So next time you go shopping, look out for vanillin and make sure you add this aromatic spice to your basket.