Forget about synthetic vanilla. Use only natural vanilla beans / pods.
"Nothing beats the goodness that you can derive from natural vanilla beans / pods".
General Composition of Natural Vanilla
According to the compilation in the book Chemistry of Spices, Parthasarathy et. al. cured vanilla beans contain vanillin, organic acids, fixed fatty oil, wax, gum, resins, tanins, pigments, sugars, cellulose and minerals. Mature fresh, green pods contain 20% water, and each 100g of dried pod contains average 3-5g proteins, 11g fat, 7-9g sugar, 15-20g fibre, 5-10g ash, 1.5g-3.0g vanillin, 2g of soft resin, and odourless vanillic acid.
Vanilla extract (vanilla planifolia), Nutritional value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value
Percentage of RDA Energy 288 Kcal 14%
Carbohydrates 12.65 g 10%
Protein 0.06 g <1%
Total Fat 0.06 g <1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g 0%
Vitamins Folates 0 mcg 0%
Niacin 0.425 mg 3%
Pantothenic caid 0.035 mg 0.5%
Pyridoxine 0.026 mg 2%
Riboflavin 0.095 mg 7%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 0 mg 0%
Electrolytes Sodium 9 mg 0.5%
Potassium 148 mg 3%
Minerals Calcium 11 mg 1%
Copper 0.072 mg 8%
Iron 0.12 mg 1.5%
Magnesium 12 mg 3%
Manganese 0.230 mg 10%
Phosphorus 6 mg 1%
Selenium 0.0 mcg 0%
Zinc 0.11 mg 1%
Furthermore, according to http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/vanilla-beans.html in natural Vanilla Extracts:
The main chemical components in the beans are vanillin and numerous traces of other constituents such as eugenol, caproic acid, phenoles, phenol ether, alcohols, carbonyl compounds, acids, ester, lactones, aliphatic and aromatic carbohydrates and vitispiranes.
Medicinal Benefits of Vanilla
Numerous benefits of natural vanilla
Natural vanilla has a rich history in its uses for ritual, aphrodisiac properties and culinary uses. Medicinal use was also prevalent until the culinary uses took over as the main demand for natural vanilla. According to the Seminars in Integrative Medicine, Volume 3, Issue 4, December 2005, Pages 129–131 it was meta-analysed in the article that:
"...Current basic science research is exploring vanillin’s properties as an anticarcinogen that has the ability to inhibit tumor formation and as an anticlastogen that has the ability to inhibit chromosome breakage..."
"...Biomedical research has also discovered that vanillin is an effective inhibitor of red blood cell sickling in patients with sickle cell disease...The anticlastogenic properties of vanillin have been studied over the last two decades by many researchers..."
"...A recent study by Keshava et al explored vanillin’s ability to reduce chromosomal damage caused by x-ray and ultraviolet (UV) light...."
"Vanillin has been found to be a powerful antimicrobial. This has possible implications for creating a natural food preservative. Fitzgerald et al,12 in a 2003 study of vanillin’s antimicrobial properties against the growth of three different yeasts associated with food spoilage, found that the structure of vanillin may play an important role in its antimicrobial properties..."
"In the field of aromatherapy, two books4,13 cite a 1991 study at Memorial Sloan Kettering that tested the antianxiety benefits of various aromatic substances on patients undergoing MRI. “Results of the . . . test showed that patients exposed to the aroma of heliotrope—a vanilla-like scent—showed a 63% less overall anxiety than a control group of patients who were not given the fragrance during the scan”.