Cinnamon: the Popular Aromatic Spice
Cinnamon is one of the most popular aromatic spices. Since many years ago, people have used this incredible spice in several tasty dishes and cuisines. However, there is more than just making flavorful home-baked dishes. There is a lot of astonishing facts behind this natural spice. Well, what about I give you some educational information about cinnamon and the cinnamon benefits for optimum health.
What Exactly Is Cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a flavoring spice that comes from the inner bark of cinnamon tree. There are several cinnamon tree species but they all share one common genus – Cinnamomum. When the inner bark of this tree is shaved off and sun-dried, it curls into beautiful brown rolls.
When I mention rolls, I am pretty sure most of you got a vague understanding of what cinnamon sticks look like. Except the people of Sri Lanka, that is. According to history, cinnamon has its original roots lying in Sweden. However, Sri Lanka remains the major producer of cinnamon. China, Egypt, and Indonesia are the other producers of cinnamon.
It is the Romans who contributed to the spread of cinnamon to these parts of the world. They used this aromatic spice to accent wine and incense.
Main Types of Cinnamon
Despite the existence of various cinnamon tree species, we have two major types of cinnamon sticks: Ceylon and Cassia.
Cassia cinnamon is budget-friendly and readily available on the market. Some consumers refer to cassia cinnamon as “China Cinnamon”. This is simply because China is the main producer of this type of cinnamon. It is of less quality compared to Ceylon and you will most likely find it in most kitchens. If you find cinnamon being sold out there without any clear indication whether it is cassia or Ceylon, you are most probably buying cassia. Cassia cinnamon is thick and dark in color. It is also strong in scent and will inflame your mouth when chewed.
Kindly note that cassia cinnamon is toxic when consumed in large doses. It contains coumarin; a harmful substance known to cause kidney and liver failure. If you happen to be consuming this spice for the first time, you better seek proper guidance or else, you risk spending your last day on earth.
This is the rare high-quality type of cinnamon that is produced in Sri Lanka. It is referred to as the pure or original cinnamon. It is lighter in color and a little brittle. Ceylon layers look thinner when you compare them to cassia layers. It is sweet with a milder scent. Doctors recommend Ceylon rather than cassia. However, note that Ceylon goes at a much higher price compared to cassia.
Cinnamon Benefits for Optimum Health
Cinnamon Helps With Brain Health
Scientific studies have shown that the use of cinnamon inhibits various damaging activities in the brain. Cinnamon contains cinnamophilin; a substance that reduces damage to brain neurons. Some other studies have shown that smelling cinnamon alone helps boost cognitive abilities.
Additionally, there is a link between cinnamon intake and prevention of brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Cinnamon benefits also in preventing the accumulation of Tau; a substance that is very harmful to brain cells. Generally, this aromatic spice boosts neurological functions thus improving brain performance.
Cinnamon Benefits for Heart Health (Cholesterol Levels)
Another incredible health boost to a regular cinnamon consumer is exellent heart health. Cinnamon is a potent antioxidant that reduces the numbers of killer radicals. Its anti-inflammatory properties help prevent heart diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and obesity. Studies have shown that consumption of cinnamon keeps body cholesterol levels under control.
For instance, in one of the studies, patients took 1-6 grams of cinnamon daily while an equal number were took placebo. After 40 days, those who had taken cinnamon registered a lower level of bad triglyceride LDL cholesterol. Generally, cholesterol levels reduced significantly among cinnamon consumers compared to those who took placebo. There was no significant effect on good triglyceride HDL cholesterol.
Cinnamon Regulates Blood Sugar Level
If you happen to have Type 2 Diabetes, consuming cinnamon is all good news. Actually, you should consider taking cinnamon even if your chances of suffering from diabetes are lower. Studies have shown that cinnamon boosts insulin performance while reducing carbohydrate digestion. This greatly helps in controlling the blood sugar level.
In one experiment, 7 participants were given 6 grams of cinnamon while an equal number was given placebo. Afterwards, an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) was administered. Those who took cinnamon had their blood sugar levels reduced by 13% compared to those who took placebo.
According to Lori Kenyon Farley; an expert working on the “Project Juice”, cinnamon lowers fasting blood sugar. In fact, some health experts actually recommend cinnamon more than prescriptions in managing Type 2 diabetes. Moreover, another pilot study has also shown that cinnamon benefits women suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in a big way.
Cinnamon Possesses Anti-fungal, Antibacterial and Antiviral Properties
In the Middle Ages, people used cinnamon not only to flavor foods but also to prevent spoilage. Well, today, scientists are discovering more and more astonishing cinnamon benefits. Apart from possessing therapeutic properties, cinnamon helps combat disease-causing microorganisms. Several experimental studies have proven that cinnamon possesses antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
For instance, in one study scientists compared over 25 cinnamon tree species with other antioxidants and cinnamon proved to be the best. Even though most of these studies involve animals, there is a promising hope that cinnamon could help solve several health challenges. In one study carried out in India, cinnamon proved to be the only anti-oxidant capable of preventing HIV.
Cinnamon Shows Evidence of Anti-carcinogenic Properties
Research studies have shown that cinnamon inhibits the growth of cancerous cells. However, do not get carried away as this research is only limited to animals. Though, the fact that cinnamon is a potent antioxidant provides hope for the cancer victims. Some medical experts suggest that cinnamon has the ability to induce death of cancerous cells. This is great news regardless of the progress of their work.
Most chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s dementia come about as a result of inflammation on cellular level. Studies have discovered that cinnamon or cinnamon extracts have the ability to lower or inhibit the process of inflammation. These studies associate the process of inflammation with the production of chemicals known as cytokines. These are chemical messengers that stimulate inflammatory process in the gut. Taking cinnamon treatment or as a flavoring additive works against inflammation by inhibiting the production of cytokines.
Cinnamon Alleviates Digestive Issues
People sometimes refer to cinnamon as the stomach smoother because of its ability to deal with gastrointestinal problems. For years, many individuals have taken cinnamon as part of hot tea to deal with stomach discomfort. In this case, it is preferable to use ground cinnamon rather than the sticks.
Open this link to see the tabled results of the several studies made to test cinnamon benefits for health in general.
Cinnamon Natural Essential Oils Have Several Healthy Benefits
Several international companies have taken advantages of the incredible cinnamon benefits packed in cinnamon stick rolls. Today, the markets sell a broad variety of cinnamon essential oils. These oils are greatly effective in combating health problems such as relief from arthritis, relief from a toothache, pain relief, help in proper functioning of kidneys, and much more. Cinnamon oils are also great for massage.
Final Words: Cinnamon Benefits for Health
Cinnamon is an incredible natural spice. Apart from giving our dishes that savoring tasty we all love, it is full of immense health benefits. However, do not get carried away with the health benefits of cinnamon. Remember both cassia and Ceylon cinnamon have the same color and flavor but their health benefits differ.
Consuming large amounts of cassia cinnamon could put your life at risk. If you love lots of this natural spice then prefer taking Ceylon which is pure and free of toxins. On the other hand, do not incorporate too much of cinnamon in your diet if you are breastfeeding, pregnant or have a medical condition. It is highly advisable to talk to your medical practitioner first for proper guidance.