Cinnamon, often found in decadent desserts such as apple pie, glazed rolls or hot chocolate, is actually a superpower spice in disguise. There are numerous health benefits that can be reaped from cinnamon, some of which are listed below.
Blood Sugar Level Control
Cinnamon can help with lowering blood sugar level by mimicking the actions of insulin, the hormone that usually regulates glucose in our body. Interestingly, this spice is often paired with foods high in carbohydrates like cinnamon rolls and apple pies, which usually spikes the blood sugar level. According to the USDA Agricultural Research Services, adding roughly one teaspoon of cinnamon to your daily diet can dramatically improve and lower blood sugar, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, whether the person is diabetic or not. Hence, this spice may also aid in the prevention of diabetes and life-threatening cardiovascular diseases.
Improving Cognitive Function
Studies have shown that cinnamon's energizing scent may increase alertness, cognitive function and memory. In a recent study, subjects that smelled the scent of cinnamon showed improved performance on memory-based tests, even more so than peppermint. Next time you are in a brain-taxing situation, chew some cinnamon flavored gum to stimulate your alertness.
The organic compound, cinnamaldehyde, gives cinnamon its rich aroma and flavor, and has been shown to have anticoagulant effects in the blood, thus eliminating any unnecessary clotting and viscosity in blood flow. Since better blood flow can be regarded as anti-inflammatory, cinnamon can also serve as a preventative spice with antioxidant properties.
Pain Relieving Properties
Cinnamon has long been used as a pain relieving remedy in Chinese medicine during menstrual cramping for women. Some studies have indicated that when the spice was administered to a group of arthritis patients every morning in a span of a week, the pain was significantly relieved.
The essential oils of cinnamon are shown to inhibit bacterial growth, and can be used to naturally preserve food while enhancing the food's flavor. Its anti-microbial properties have also shown to effectively eliminate the Candida strain of bacteria, which is known to cause yeast infections, as well as E. coli, which is responsible for urinary tract infections, in clinical settings. In traditional Chinese medicine, cinnamon essential oils and teas have also been administered in the case of the common cold or the flu with exceptional results.
Interesting Facts About Cinnamon
- Cinnamon is the bark of a type of evergreen tree, and a stick is often referred to as a "quill."
- The spice originated from Sri Lanka and is mentioned in Chinese writings as far back as 2800 B.C.
- Cinnamon was used in Egypt as one of the embalming ingredients.
- Cinnamon is great for those who suffer from Type 2 diabetes, as it helps regulate blood sugar level naturally.
- The two main types of cinnamon are Cassia and Ceylon.
Vitamins And Minerals In Cinnamon
- Manganese: important in helping the body use other enzymes and nutrients, such as thiamin, ascorbic acid and choline. It also keeps the bones, nerves and cells healthy, maintains functions of the thyroid gland, and helps the body synthesize cholesterol.
- Dietary fiber: very important to colon health. It can help monitor blood glucose levels, aid digestion, relieve constipation, reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, and balances intestinal pH.
- Iron: helps with oxygen transport in the body, and can provide energy when the body needs it most. Individuals with low amounts of iron tend to feel fatigue and exhaustion sooner, so peanuts can be a great energizer.
- Calcium: often associated with milk, and is known to strengthen and build strong bones and teeth.
- Vitamin C: vital in strengthening the immune system and protecting the body against the common cold and the flu. It is also a potent antioxidant that can help with cancer prevention, vision protection and cardiovascular health maintenance.
- Vitamin K: plays a key role in blood coagulation, as well as promoting circulation of blood. It also protects the cardiovascular system, maintains bone health and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Polyphenols: powerful antioxidant that helps maintain artery health and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Adding Cinnamon To Your Diet
Some ideas of incorporating cinnamon into your diet include:
- Adding a teaspoon on hot oatmeal, cold cereal or yogurt for a nourishing breakfast food.
- Adding a tablespoon to your favorite baked goods.
- Add a generous dash to baked beans, curries and stews.
- Simmer a cinnamon stick in milk and honey for a comforting drink.
- Sprinkle over broiled or baked starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes or carrots.
- Sprinkle over bananas, apples or your favorite nut mix for a healthy, midday snack.
- Add to a meat rub or marinade.
- Dash some cinnamon when you blend your next smoothie.
- Sprinkle some into your coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
Be sure to discuss the possible benefits of adding cinnamon to your diet to treat, prevent or alleviate any of the listed ailments or conditions. Cinnamon should not be used to supplement medication and regular treatment from your healthcare physician.