Health benefits of Cinnamon

Cinnamon (scientific name- Cinnamomum zeylanicum  ) is a spice that was once even more valuable than gold and was offered as gift to Gods and Kings. It is cultivated in Sri Lanka, India and Burma and can also be found in South America and West Indies. Cassia or Chinese cinnamon is mainly found in China, Vietnam and Indonesia . The brown bark of the cinnamon tree is dried and used as small tubes, also known as quill, and also ground to powder and used. They come in two varieties- Chinese variety called ‘cassia’ and the Ceylon variety referred to as ‘true cinnamon’. They slightly differ in taste from one another with Ceylon being sweeter and more refined. Today, health benefits of cinnamon are well known throughout the world.

Why is Cinnamon beneficial for Health?

Cinnamon health benefits and some unique healing abilities are due to the presence of three active components  – cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol. Cinnamon also has plenty of manganese and fiber and also a lot of Iron and Calcium in it . It is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin K. It is used in food as well as in aromatherapy.

Cinnamon is a spice that has been popular throughout the history. It has even got a mention in Bible and was used as an embalming agent in ancient Egypt. It was highly regarded in Chinese medicine as well . Cinnamon oil is even beneficial as an environment-friendly mosquito repellant as it can kill mosquito larvae !

Cinnamon in Ayurveda : Cinnamon has been provided a special place in Ayurvada medicine. According to this system it has numerous benefits and used in – bronchitis, diarrhea, cough-colds, dysentery, gastric troubles, metabolic and heart strengthening, indigestion, liver problems, muscle tension, nausea and vomiting. It assists uterine contractions during labor and menstrual pain from low metabolic function. For external applications, it is used against headaches and pain.

Health benefits of Cinnamon

 

Cinnamon is a spice that is available throughout the year but is especially suitable for use in winter as this is a warming substance. It not only imparts flavor to your food but also packs a punch of nutrients along with it.Cinnamon Health Benefits

Beneficial against type 2 Diabetes : According to a latest study by Imperial College of London, consuming 2 grams of cinnamon for 12 weeks is found to improve the blood sugar and blood pressure levels in patients of type 2 diabetes. Another study conducted in 2003 on diabetes care, daily intake of cinnamon was found to lower glucose level and cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. The study suggested that it reduces the risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in these people. Cinnamon also helps people with type 2 diabetes to respond better to insulin.

Cinnamon is also generally helpful in lowering blood sugar as it slows down the rate at which a full stomach is emptied. This in turn results in a reduced level of blood sugar rising

Antimicrobial benefits : In a study conducted to evaluate the antibacterial property of certain plant essential oils, cinnamon was found to be the most effective. Cinnamaldehyde contained in cinnamon oil functions as a natural antioxidant and it inhibited the growth of molds, yeast and bacterial. It is injected as an antiseptic against gonorrhea. When taken internally it acts as a germicide against typhoid fever. Cinnamon oil is also helpful in the treatment of cancer and several other microbial diseases . Cinnamon acts as an antiviral agent against HSV infection .

Cinnamon boosts brain activity : Just smelling the cinnamon can be enough as the scent has been found to improve cognitive response in human beings, thus it is a great brain tonic. It was found that brain functions including memory and visual-motor speed was seen to benefit from the smell. Cinnamon was also found to treat Alzheimers in mice.

Beneficial against HIV : An article published in 2000 in The Indian Journal of Medical Research studied the effects of Indian medicinal plants on human immunodeficiency virus activity. Among 69 plant species that were screened in-vitro, only 4 were effective against both HIV 1 and 2. The most effective extract against HIV-1 was the bark of cinnamon tree and against HIV-2 was its shoot and fruit combined .

Anti-clotting benefits : Blood clots when platelets clump together to form a block. But if too much clotting occurs, blood flow will become inadequate. Cinnamon contains a substance called cinnamaldehyde which prevents unwanted clumping and thus unwanted clotting.

Anti-inflammatory benefits : Cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory substance which helps in reducing inflammation . Daily intake of cinnamon was shown to provide significant relief against arthritis within a week and patients could walk without pain in a month .

Cinnamon helps treat cold : Cinnamon being a warming substance has been used since ancient times to provide relief from cold or flu.

Beneficial in improving colon health : Cinnamon contains a lot of calcium and fiber which aids in the removal of bile from the body. This helps in preventing the damage caused to colon cells by bile salts, which in turn reduces the risk of colon cancer.

Beneficial against heart disease : Cinnamon helps in removal of bile from the body and this prompts the body to break down more cholesterol for the production of new bile. This process helps in lowering cholesterol, preventing atherosclerosis and protecting against heart disease.

Beneficial against irritable bowel syndrome : The excellent fiber content of cinnamon helps in providing relief from constipation and diarrhea. Cinnamon oil has strong lipolytic properties in dissolving fat and thus aids digestion. When consumed, it helps break down fats in the digestive system, possibly by boosting the activity of digestive enzymes. 

Other Health benefits of Cinnamon:

  1. In a study conducted by U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maryland, cinnamon was found to inhibit proliferation of cancer cells in conditions like leukemia and lymphoma.
  2. Cinnamon extract is effective against neuralgia and headache
  3. Cinnamon may prevent stomach ulcers 
  4. Daily intake of cinnamon can lower LDL cholesterol

Usage, selection and storage of Cinnamon

To get maximum Health benefits of Cinnamon it should be used properly. Cinnamon can be used as bark or as powder. It is often used in curries in the form of ground paste. It can also be warmed with milk for added flavor.Cinnamon toast is an all-time classic. In medicine, cinnamon is added in tea or mixed with fresh ginger and consumed.

The smell of Cinnamon is often indicative of its freshness. To find the sweeter and more refined Ceylon cinnamon, you might have to search in local spice shops or ethnic markets. If shelf life is more important, go for the bark which stays fresh longer; and for stronger flavor, opt for powder.

 

Cinnamon can be either stored tightly sealed in glass containers in a cool and dry place out of direct sunlight, or simply in a refrigerator.

5 Easy Ways to Use Cinnamon in daily life

  • One can use honey-ginger-cinnamon tea, especially useful in cold weather.
  • One of the most popular ways is to grounded cinnamon in curries.
  • Cinnamon can also be used to make a tasty beverage along with honey and soymilk.
  • It can be used to make our breakfast healthy by sprinkling it on bread toast.
  • Cinnamon can also be used as an oil, infact it is an essential part of oils for aromatherapy

When not to use Cinnamon

Cassia cinnamons have a higher level of coumarins which are anti-coagulating agents and hence when taken regularly in substantial amounts, may pose a health risk. Cinnamons which are not grown organically may be irradiated and this can lower its vitamin C and carotenoid content.

Recommendation

Including cinnamon in your daily food will help give you some flavorful nutrition. They are also easily and cheaply available. They smell wonderful as well!