Cinnamon

You know you have most likely used cinnamon in baking, drinks, cold remedies, but do you know the many benefits of this very versatile spice? Well, let’s just say it’s one of the most beneficial spices you could ever use.

It has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years.

Cinnamon actually ranks as #1 of the 26 most popular herbs and medicinal spices in the world for its protective antioxidant levels.

This wonderful spice comes from the bark of the Cinnamomum tree, which contains special compounds (cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, and cinnamate) that are responsible for its many health promoting properties. Some of those health benefits can be obtained from its pure bark, essential oils, ground spice (bark powder), or in extract form, giving it antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, immunity boosting, cancer and heart disease protecting abilities. The distinct smell and flavour of cinnamon is due to the oily part (cinnamaldehyde) and is responsible for most of its powerful effects on health and metabolism.

One tablespoon of ground cinnamon contains – 19 calories; 0 grams of fat, sugar, or protein, 4 grams fiber, 68% manganese, 8% calcium, 4% iron, and 3% vitamin K.

Because of its antioxidant abilities, a little bit of cinnamon goes a long way when including in your diet. About 1/2 teaspoon daily can have positive effects on blood sugar levels, digestion, and immunity, but larger doses can also be very beneficial for improving heart disease risk, cutting your risk for diabetes, cancer, and neuro-degenerative diseases.

Cinnamon’s antioxidant abilities is proven to be higher than other powerful herbs and spices such as garlic, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Antioxidants such as polyphenols, phenolic acid, and flavonoids which are also found in superfoods such as berries, red wine, and dark chocolate, provide lots of health benefits that work to fight oxidative stress in the body which can lead to disease formation as you age. The antioxidants are free-radical scavengers which help reduce oxidative stress limiting nitric oxide build up in the blood and fat which can contribute to instances of brain disorders, cancer, and heart disease.

Swelling and inflammation can be lowered when consuming cinnamon which helps in pain management by relieving muscle soreness, PMS pain, severity of allergic reactions and some age related symptoms that result in pain as well. This anti-inflammatory action can help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and brain function decline. There are seven kinds of flavonoid compounds in cinnamon that are known to be effective at fighting dangerous inflammation levels throughout the body.

High cholesterol, high triglyceride and high blood pressure can be controlled consuming cinnamon, by reducing LDL (bad) cholesteral and triglycerides, but your HDL (good) cholesterol will remain stable. High blood pressure is another threat for heart disease or stroke and cinnamon has been proven to help in this area as well. Cinnamon helps blood coagulate, prevents bleeding by allowing the body to form blood clots, it increases blood circulation and helps the body tissues repair themselves when damaged, including heart tissue needed to regenerate to help fight heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke.

Cinnamon will decrease the amount of glucose (sugar) that enters the bloodstream after a meal, which helps with insulin resistance in diabetics. It interferes with some of the digestive enzymes (alanines) by slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract. A compound in cinnamon can mimic insulin improving glucose uptake in cells.  The anti-diabetic effects of cinnamon help lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 10-29%.

We are all concerned with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Well, researchers have found that cinnamon’s protective antioxidant properties help defend against developing these types of disorders, by activating neuro-protective proteins that protect brain cells from mutations and damage. It reduces the effects of oxidative stress, stopping cells from morphing and self-destructing. At some point in the future it is possible that because of the many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in cinnamon, it may be used as a natural therapeutic treatment in the prevention of age-related neuro-degenerative diseases.

A lot of us have been touched by cancer, either ourselves, or a loved one. No one wants to undergo chemotherapy treatments or radiation. This is such an awful disease that there has to be ways to help protect us from it. Well cinnamon has been greatly studied for its potential use in cancer prevention and treatment. It helps reduce the growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels in tumors and seems to be toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death. The studies have been done on mice with colon cancer showing that cinnamon is a potent activator of detoxifying enzymes in the colon, protecting against further cancer growth, and more studies were later supported by test tube experiments where it activates protective antioxidant responses in human colon cells. It may not seem ideal, but research is getting much better.

Cinnamon’s benefits help defend the body from illness with its natural anti-microbial, anti-biotic, anti-fungal, and anti-viral components. Cinnamon essential oils have immune-boosting abilities as well, which all help to fight harmful infections and viruses, and can help protect against various negative bacteria in the digestive tract, on the skin and that might also cause colds or flu. By helping to boost immunity, studies have even shown it may be able to reduce the risk of contracting the HIV virus!

If you suffer from bad breath, tooth decay, cavities, or mouth infections, the extracts in cinnamon protect against bacteria living in your mouth. Cinnamon helps with bad breath by removing harmful oral bacteria without using chemicals. It has been known to be used as a tooth powder, treat toothaches, dental problems, on oral microbiota, and mouth sores. Cinnamon essential oil has also been used in some beauty products, shampoos, and perfumes to help fight infection while adding a pleasant smell.

Candida is a fungal infection in the digestive tract that causes many issues, and cinnamon has been shown to lower amounts of dangerous Candid Albicans (the yeast that causes Candida overgrowth) which can contribute to multiple digestive and autoimmune symptoms. Because cinnamon helps to control blood sugar levels, and too much sugar in the digestive tract is associated with increased candida risk, it is used to help eliminate that issue. Either by cinnamon extract or cinnamon essential oil, candida yeast levels and symptoms are reduced. It fights candida naturally by boosting immune health and fighting inflammation, auto immune-reactions, and yeast in the gut.

With anti-biotic and anti-microbial components, cinnamon can protect the skin from irritations, rashes, allergic reaction, and infections. Using cinnamon essential oil on the skin can help reduce inflammation, swelling, pain, and redness. Honey and cinnamon together are a powerhouse anti-microbial that can help boost skin health and can be used for acne, rosacea, and signs of skin allergies.

Those who have asthma and allergies should look at using cinnamon to help relieve asthma attacks or allergic reactions, because it reduces inflammation and fights histamine reactions in the body. Also due to its immune boosting abilities it is beneficial for digestive health helping to cut down on auto-immune reactions that can take place after consuming common allergen foods.

Cinnamon is naturally sweet, so using it in recipes can help you lower the glycemic load of a meal by reducing the amount of sugar used, which will also help manage food cravings, and weight gain. Use cinnamon in coffee, tea, baked goods, yogurt, on fruit, or perhaps in your morning oatmeal instead of adding extra sugar and calories. It can help you to reduce inflammation-causing sugar, extra calories, and to fight weight gain, diabetes, and low energy levels.

You can also use cinnamon as a natural preservative. Its anti-bacterial and antioxidant abilities allow it to be used as a preservative in many foods without having to use chemicals and artificial ingredients.

It’s probably wise to try to consume the Ceylon (true) cinnamon as the Cassia variety contains a compound called coumarin, which can be harmful in large doses, especially to the liver. Ceylon and cassia cinnamon come from two different but related trees. Ceylon cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka and Thailand and are more rare, a bit more expensive and harder to find in stores. Where Cassia cinnamon comes from China and is less expensive and more widely available.

If you cannot find Ceylon cinnamon, Cassia cinnamon is good too. Just make sure to not consume more than 1-2 teaspoons a day due to the coumarin compounds. You can use either in your recipes.

When buying, look for organic Ceylon cinnamon powder and essential oil to get the most benefits from your cinnamon. If you check the label on the type you are buying and it doesn’t distinguish between Ceylon and Cassia, it will likely be Cassia which is less expensive and more popular. Make sure the use it within one year and replenish your supply buying a fresh bottle.

I hope you learned something new about cinnamon today.

Have a wonderful day and week ahead.

Blessings,

Louise