This article will teach you all things vanilla that you need to know when your on a keto diet. Additionally, this article holds evidence-based health benefits and a Keto Buyer’s Guide for Vanilla in store for you.
Pure vanilla extract is keto. Pure vanilla extract is regulated by the FDA and made of 3 ingredients: 13.35% vanilla bean extractives, 35% alcohol, and distilled water. Other keto-safe options include “pure vanilla flavor”, scraped vanilla beans, and sugar-free imitation vanilla.
Let’s look at the six most common vanilla flavorings and check if they are keto.
1. Pure Vanilla Extract | Is It Keto?
Natural vanilla comes in many names:
Bourbon Vanilla, Common Vanilla, Madagascar Vanilla, Mexican Vanilla, Réunion Vanilla, Tahitian Vanilla, Tahiti Vanilla, Vainilla, Vanilla planifolia, Vanilla tahitensis, Vanille, Vanille Bourbon, Vanille de Bourbon, Vanille de Madagascar, Vanille du Mexique, Vanille de Tahiti, Vanillin.
Natural vanilla is made from vanilla beans which grow on the vanilla plant.
Vanilla consists of 200 unique flavor compounds. It is the variety of molecules that gives vanilla it’s complex, multi-faceted flavor. Vanilla is a well-known flavoring, it is also used to reduce the amount of sugar needed for sweetening.
Fun fact: Vanilla is also used as an aphrodisiac to increase sexual desire.
Vanillin is the one principal flavor and aroma compound in vanilla. Cured and dried vanilla pods contain about 2% vanillin. On cured pods of high quality, relatively pure vanillin is sometimes visible as a white dust or “frost” on the exterior of the pod.
At the time the vanilla pods are harvested, they have no smell or taste.
Only after months of curing and processing, the pods have developed their characteristic flavor and fragrance.
How Is Vanilla Extract Made?
- Growing and Harvesting: Each vanilla blossom is pollinated by hand. It takes 8-9 months for each pod to ripen.
- Curing Process: Boiling in water, drying in the sun on bamboo tables for around ten weeks, sorting & grading depending on size and quality, 1-2 months of storing time which allows the pods to reach their peak flavor and fragrance.
- Transportation: Transport to a manufacturing facility
- Producing Vanilla Extract: Grounding the bean pods, washing and soaking the ground beans in water and alcohol which extracts the flavor. After filtration the finished vanilla extract is put into bottles.
Vanilla extract is made by soaking split vanilla beans in a solution of ethanol and water. Over time, the alcohol absorbs the flavor compounds of the vanilla beans and preserves them, leaving the extract highly flavorful and shelf-stable. These 3 ingredients make pure vanilla extract a great addition to any keto diet.
Pure vanilla extract must contain 13.35% vanilla bean extractives, 35% alcohol, and the balance in distilled water per gallon (according to the US Standard of Identity).
Far less than 1% of vanilla extracts or essences sold throughout Mexico and the Americas are pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla flavor. 99% of sold vanilla extracts are synthetic products which cannot be labeled “pure” vanilla extract.
Pure vanilla extract is usually made from Grade B vanilla beans.
- Grade A: 15 cm and longer; 100–120 fruits per pound; “Gourmet” or “Prime”; 30–35% moisture content.
- Grade B: 10–15 cm; 140–160 fruits per pound; “Extract fruits”; 15–25% moisture content.
- Grade C: 10 cm
Price Of Pure Vanilla Extract
2 fl oz of McCormick pure vanilla extract costs 13.99 USD at Ralph’s.
#1 Is McCormick pure vanilla extract keto-friendly?
Yes, McCormick pure vanilla extract and all other products labeled “pure vanilla extract” contain only water, alcohol and vanilla extract which make them keto friendly.
#2 Can you have pure vanilla extract on keto?
Yes, you can have pure vanilla extract on keto. According to the FDA, pure vanilla extract can only consist of alcohol, water and vanilla extract which makes it a keto-friendly option.
Conclusion: Pure vanilla extract is keto. Pure vanilla extract is made of 3 ingredients: 13.35% vanilla bean extractives, 35% alcohol, and distilled water. While ethyl alcohol won’t get you out of ketosis, drinking alcohol while following a keto diet may affect your progress. However, the small doses in which pure vanilla extract is used can be considered harmless.
2. Vanilla Extract | Is It Keto?
Whereas “pure vanilla extract” consists of the 3 ingredients alcohol, vanilla bean extractives and water (required by the FDA), “vanilla extract” contains additional ingredients which don’t allow the use of the term “pure”.
Unlike pure vanilla extract, products labeled “vanilla extract” may additionally contain: Glycerin, propylene glycol, sugar (including invert sugar), dextrose, and corn syrup (including dried corn syrup). 
Price Of Vanilla Extract
2 fl oz of Organic Madagascar vanilla extract costs 7.99 USD at Ralph’s.
#3 Is vanilla extract the same as vanilla syrup?
No. According to the FDA Administration, “pure vanilla extract” consists of 35% ethyl alcohol, and 13.35 oz of vanilla beans per gallon. “Vanilla extract” may additionally contain: Glycerin, propylene glycol, sugar, dextrose, and/or corn syrup. “Vanilla syrup” is a water-based sugar solution, flavored with natural or synthetic vanilla. ; 
#4 Can I use vanilla extract on a keto diet?
According to the FDA, vanilla extract (unlike “pure” vanilla extract) may contain additional sugar, dextrose or corn syrup. Vanilla extract containing one of these ingredients is not keto. Check your ingredient list and at the store look for keto-friendly “pure vanilla extract” or a “vanilla extract” without added sugars.
#5 Are flavor extracts keto-friendly?
Generally, flavor extracts labeled “pure” contain only alcohol, water and a specific flavor component, which make it keto-friendly. Products labeled “flavor extract” may contain added ingredients like glycerin, propylene glycol, sugar, dextrose, and/or corn syrup which make it no longer keto-friendly.
#6 Is there sugar-free vanilla extract?
Yes, there are sugar free vanilla options on the market. Your best option is “pure vanilla extract” which is regulated by the FDA and contains only alcohol, water and vanilla extract.
Conclusion: Unlike pure vanilla extract, products labeled “vanilla extract” may contain: Glycerin, propylene glycol, sugar (including invert sugar), dextrose, and corn syrup (including dried corn syrup). Vanilla extract contains carbohydrates and is not keto-friendly.
3. Pure Vanilla Flavor | Is It Keto?
This might sound like a purely synthetic product, but there are actually lots of natural, pure vanilla flavors available. Make sure your product says “pure” on the label.
Pure vanilla flavor is made with vanilla bean extractives, but unlike pure vanilla extract, without alcohol. Propylene glycol is the most common carrier used for producing the flavor.
Pure vanilla flavor cannot be labeled “extract” due to the lack of alcohol.
Pure vanilla flavor usually contains additives like sugar or dextrose. Make sure to read the ingredient list.
Price Of Pure Vanilla Flavor
4 fl oz of pure vanilla flavor costs 8.99 USD at Trader Joe’s.
#7 Is vanilla flavor keto?
Pure vanilla flavor usually contains added sugars. It is recommended to choose keto-safe alternatives like “pure vanilla extract”.
Conclusion: “Pure vanilla flavor” is made without alcohol and hence cannot be labeled “extract”. Pure vanilla flavor contains added sugars that don’t make it suitable for a keto diet.
4. Home-Made Scraped Vanilla Beans | Is It Keto?
Real, whole vanilla beans are one of the most expensive spices in any cupboard. When buying vanilla bean pods, they should look glossy on the outside, bend a little when touched and be as plump as possible. Desiccated, dull, or brittle-looking vanilla pods make it too hard to scrape out the inside.
Natural vanilla bean pods should be stored at room temperature away from heat or sunlight, like in a cupboard. Products made of natural vanilla beans often show as tiny black flecks of vanilla bean seeds dispersed throughout the food.
One scraped vanilla bean pod contains 0.1 grams of carbs and is equivalent to about 3 teaspoons vanilla extract. 
How To Scrape Out A Vanilla Bean Pod
- Cutting board
- Paring knife
- Split the vanilla bean down its length with a paring knife.
- Scrape out the seeds: Hold down the tip of the bean against the cutting board. Use the dull side of your paring knife and scrape the vanilla beans from the pod one half at a time.
- The scraped-out pods can be used to infuse milk or cream with vanilla flavor.
Price Of Home-Made Scraped Vanilla Beans
One vanilla pod costs around 7.99 USD at common grocery stores. One scraped vanilla pod is equal to 3 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.
Conclusion: Yes, home-made scraped vanilla bean paste is keto. The scraped seeds of a vanilla bean pod are a great addition to keto drinks and desserts.
5. Store-Bought Vanilla Bean Paste | Is It Keto?
Store-bought vanilla bean paste features the scraped seeds of a vanilla bean pod, supplemented by a syrupy sugar-water combo and a thickening agent. Vanilla bean paste has a consistency similar to maple syrup and is thicker than vanilla extract.
Like homemade scraped vanilla pods, it’s flecked with real vanilla bean seeds, that will be visible in your creations.
Price Of Store-Bought Vanilla Bean Paste
2 oz vanilla bean paste costs 4.99 USD at Trader Joe’s.
Conclusion: The majority of vanilla bean paste in common grocery stores contain sugar. Therefore, store-bought vanilla bean paste is not keto.
6. Imitation Vanilla
Vanillin is the one molecule in over 500 that plays the key role in the vanilla flavor profile. To make vanilla more affordable, it’s key flavor component vanillin is produced synthetically.
Imitation vanilla is synthetic vanillin made in a laboratory. If the product is clear, it’s 100% synthetic vanillin. If you find it in a more caramel color, it has usually been dyed with caramel color and sugar.
More than 99% of sold vanilla extracts or essences sold throughout Mexico, and the Americas consist of synthetic vanillin. Synthetic vanillin delivers nearly 30 times the strength.
Usually, synthetic vanilla products contain sugar and other ingredients, some of which may be considered carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in the U.S.
Ethylvanillin is an artificial molecule, it does not appear in nature. Ethylvanillin is a lot stronger in flavor than vanillin. Therefore, when using ethylvanillin even less of the molecule is required to get the same intensity of vanillin flavor. Products using ethyvanillin are often labeled “double-strength” imitation vanilla.
Price Of Imitation Vanilla
8 fl oz of imitation vanilla flavor costs 1.49 USD at Ralph’s.
Conclusion: In most cases, imitation vanilla extract contain added sugar. Make sure to read the ingredient label. “Pure vanilla extract” is regulated by the FDA and a great natural and sugar-free alternative to imitation vanilla products.
7. Benefits Of Natural Vanilla
#1 Antioxidant benefits of vanilla
Vanillin is a powerful antioxidant against free radicals. Antioxidants have the potential to protect against various degenerative diseases – like cancer – caused by oxidative damage. ; ; 
#2 Anti-depression benefits of vanilla
Vanilla has been commonly used as a home remedy from the 17th century for treating anxiety and depression. However, only now science is able to find proof: Vanillin at the dosage of 100mg/kg has demonstrated antidepressant activity in mice, which is comparable with fluoxetine, commercially known by the brand name Prozac. Vanillin offers an alternative without uncomfortable side effects. Check with your doctor before switching from prescribed antidepressants to vanilla extract as treatment. 
#3 Anti-anxiety benefits of vanilla
Research shows that compared to humidified air alone, the administration of a fragrance with a vanilla-like scent reduced reported anxiety in patients undergoing MRI for cancer screening by 63%. This might be dues to vanilla’s calming, sweet and pleasing aroma. 
#4 Anti-tumor benefits of vanilla
As a natural bioactive product, vanillin shows proven anti-tumor action, and therapeutic potential in cancer treatment and prevention. 
#5 Antibacterial benefits of vanilla
The health benefits of vanilla include antibacterial properties, which may help prevent infection. The application of vanilla essential oil to medical devices inhibited the growth of specific bacterial cells.