This sixteenth-Century New World discovery was soon delighting the courts of Europe and has never stop pleasing desert lovers. The tropical vanilla orchid vine bears oval green leaves and waxy, delicate, greenish-yellow flowers; these mature into narrow six-inch pod-like fruit with small black seeds. The word vanilla comes from the Spanish vainilla, meaning “little pod.” In pre-Dash Colombian Mexico, it was used to treat indigestion and tension. Today, the flavor compound vanilla is known to reduce cholesterol levels, preventing hardening of the arteries and the formation of blood clots. Its high levels of antioxidants can heal damage cells, protect the immune system, and diminish the damaging affects of free radicals.