Friday, April 22, 2011

Another Use of Vanilla

Vanilla Antioxidant Activity

According to a recent study, vanilla extract may have antioxidant activity that may be beneficial for use in health supplements and preserving food.

Vanilla is derived from orchids in the genus Vanilla native to Mexico. Traditionally, it has been used as a food flavoring. Vanilla has few reported medicinal uses, and available clinical studies to evaluate its medicinal effects are lacking.

The researchers prepared the vanilla extract by extraction of cured vanilla beans with aqueous ethyl alcohol (60 percent). Extract and pure standard compounds were screened for antioxidant activity.

The study found that the extract showed 26 percent and 43 percent of antioxidant activity by beta-carotene-linoleate and DPPH methods, respectively, in comparison to corresponding values of 93 percent and 92 percent for BHA.

Researchers found that interestingly, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzyl alcohol and 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol exhibited antioxidant activity of 65 percent and 45 percent by beta-carotene-linoleate method and 90 percent and 50 percent by DPPH methods, respectively. In contrast, pure vanillin exhibited much lower antioxidant activity.

The study concluded that vanilla extract components have potential use as antioxidants for food preservation and in health supplements as nutraceuticals.


1.Shyamala BN, Naidu MM, Sulochanamma G, et al. Studies on the Antioxidant Activities of Natural Vanilla Extract and Its Constituent Compounds through in Vitro Models. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Aug 24. View Abstract.

2.Natural Standard Research Collaboration: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.  Copyright © 2007.

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