It’s a classic flavour that’s stood the test of time, but the power of vanilla extends far beyond its culinary prowess, discovers Karen Fittall.
Flavoured as a cooking ingredient, vanilla’s uses are varied and extend beyond the domain of cooks. Here, we sniff out three non-culinary ways to put the fruit of an orchid plant to good use at your place.
To feel more self-assure
The next time you’re faced with a difficult decision, open a bottle of vanilla extract and inhale. According
to a team of scientists from the University of Minnesota, not only will the smell of vanilla make you
feel calmer, it’s capable of reducing indecision by inhibiting feelings of stress and anxiety about whether
you’re making the right choice or not.
Try burning some vanilla oil. When doctors in New York added a vanilla-like scent to the air received by patients undergoing a traditionally stressful and claustrophobic MRI scan, it resulted in 63 per cent less anxiety compared to patients who received odourless air. It backs up research out of Germany, which found that the smell of vanilla tones down our startle reflex, which defines how ‘jumpy’ we are in scary
or surprising situations.
To get a better night’s sleep
Forget lavender and sprinkle a few drops of vanilla extract on your pillow instead. Last year scientists in Japan found that when a vanilla-scented compound called heliotropin was circulated around the room during the night, it improved sleep quality in people who previously had trouble falling asleep.
Find more healthy food choices in the October issue of New Zealand Good Health magazine at magshop.co.nz.