Cinnamon: A Spice That Delivers Health Benefits

If you were to describe cinnamon, what would it be? Most of you will describe it as sweet and aromatic.
Nowadays, cinnamon is an additive that is sprinkled over coffee, lattes, toasts and other foods alike. It adds flavorful zest to these meals.

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Nonetheless, more than an additive, did you know that cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known and used in the world history? Cinnamon has been consumed since 2000 BC in Egypt and is widely considered as panacea. In medieval era, doctors used this spice to treat conditions such as coughing, arthritis and sore throat. The extracts from the bark of the cinnamon tree has been a traditional medicine around the world.

Most of the cinnamon trees are found in Caribbean, South America and Southeast Asia. There are two types of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon or Chinese cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is commonly used in Western part of the world while Cassia cinnamon comes from Southern China and is less expensive compared to Ceylon.

Centuries after, cinnamon continues to bring forth many benefits, which are good for the health. Let us discover how cinnamon provides better health with these benefits:

1. Cinnamon may lower your blood sugar levels.
Many studies demonstrate how cinnamon help control one’s blood sugar. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adding cinnamon to a high-carbohydrate food reduces its impact on participants’ blood sugar levels. The addition of cinnamon in these foods decreases the surge of blood sugar after consuming because it slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals.

In another research, which was conducted by U.S Department of Agriculture, it was found out that cinnamon extract helped reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease. After 6 and 12 weeks of taking cinnamon extract, it was revealed that the extract improved antioxidant status as well as helped in reducing blood sugar levels.

In a study published in Diabetics Care, it was reported that cinnamon might help improve blood sugar and lipids levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Authors of the study concluded that consuming up to six grams of cinnamon per day reduces blood sugar, triglyceride, bad cholesterol and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. Adding cinnamon in the existing diet of people with type 2 diabetes had lowered risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

The European Journal of Clinical Investigation also presented that a certain cinnamon extract can lessen fasting blood sugar in patients.

How much cinnamon should you take? Some agree that approximately ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder daily is effective. Other studies used between 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon. However, excessive consumption of cinnamon is dangerous to one’s health.

2. Cinnamon improves brain function.
A study showed that smelling the aroma of cinnamon enhances cognitive process. It acts as cognitive stimulant, resulting to improved memory, visual-motor speed and recognition. However, consuming cinnamon significantly advances brain function. Scientists at Wheeling Jesuit University asked participants to complete computer-based tasks while chewing plain gum, or gum flavoured with cinnamon, peppermint or jasmine. Those who were given cinnamon-flavored gum demonstrated cognitive boost that sped up visual motor response and improved attention scores.

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The aromatic spice of cinnamon may help the brain heal. A study found out that cinnamon extract prevented brain cells from swelling in the ways typically seen after a traumatic brain injury or stroke. The scientists at the Agricultural Research Service conducted the study.

3. Cinnamon stops the growth of bacteria.
Because of cinnamon’ anti-microbial benefits, it helps impede growth of harmful bacteria or fungi that cause fungal infections. According to National Institute of Health, a chemical found in Cassia cinnamon, known as cinnamaldehyde plays a key role in aiding fight against bacterial and fungal infections.

4. Cinnamon lowers the negative effects of fatty meals.
Most of us know that eating high fatty meals affects triglyceride levels and chronically high triglycerides makes us more prone to heart disease. This specific study shows that supplementing fatty meals with spices such as cinnamon can reduce levels of triglyceride.

A recent study in Penn State revealed that diets rich in cinnamon helped curb the negative responses to eating high fat meal. In this study, the result of including spices like cinnamon in fatty meals was significant in lowering triglyceride levels.

On two separate days, participants of the study volunteered to add two tablespoon of cinnamon to a fatty meal, which were examined against an identical control meat without cinnamon or spices. Blood samples were extracted after meals. The study revealed that adding spices reduced triglycerides by 30 percent. Likewise, there was a 13 percent increase of blood antioxidant levels.

5. Cinnamon prevents Alzheimer’s disease.
Tel Aviv University discovered that cinnamon might help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The extract found in cinnamon bark called CEppt, had properties that can help delay the development of the disease.

To get most of cinnamon’s benefits, combine it into your foods and drinks. The flavor and zest it brings, makes eating healthy.

A sprinkle of cinnamon to most common breakfast staples can prevent you from skipping breakfast.
• Sprinkle cinnamon powder over a cup of coffee or add it to coffee grounds before brewing.
• Add a dash of cinnamon to hot oatmeal or cold whole grain cereal.

Add zesty cinnamon to your regular food or drinks by doing the following:
• Freeze cinnamon in ice cubes to bring zest and aroma to water or cocktails.
• Spice up your roasted or grilled fruit, roasted sweet potatoes, cauliflowers and butternut squash with pinch of cinnamon.
• Add a pinch of cinnamon to lentil or black bean soup or vegetarian chili.
• Sprinkle a little cinnamon on popped popcorn.
• Stir a little cinnamon to melted dark chocolate and drizzle over whole nuts or use it as dip or coating for fresh fruit.

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