Cinnamon is among the leading ingredients in antioxidants content. Do you know what cinnamon benefits for health are? Do you know how to use it and how to dose it? Well, read on, as we shall tell you all the important facts that you need to know.
Research studies confirm that cinnamon has to offer many beneficial properties – in particular, the ability to influence blood pressure, as well as lower blood sugar and insulin levels. It is especially important that by reducing the feeling of hunger, cinnamon helps with weight loss which is considered an important plus. However, there are also a number of disadvantages. For example, cinnamon can provoke allergies so you need to do some research before using it for its medicinal properties.
How is cinnamon grown and harvested?
Cinnamon is a spice derived from the bark of a several tropical trees members of the genus Cinnamomum. The plant has been known for about 5 thousand years. In ancient Egypt, it was added to food and used in medicine. The first mention was found in China. The entry is dated 2700 BC. In the past, cinnamon was considered a rare spice that was highly prized and cost a lot of money but nowadays it can be bought at any store.
The aroma of cinnamon is due to the cinnamaldehyde (cinnamal). Scientists believe that cinnamaldehyde is responsible for most of the health benefits of cinnamon. It is best to use Ceylon cinnamon as it contains more beneficial plant compounds.
Cinnamon is native to Asia. In India, China and Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, the plant is grown on plantations, where it is also found in the wild. For the production, the inner layer bark is used. It is cut off with special knives and once dried, it is rolled into tubes. Depending on the country of origin, the varieties and general characteristics of the spice differ. For example, Ceylon cinnamon may be lighter in color than Indian cinnamon. There are also characteristic differences in aroma and taste.
- Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), also known as “real” cinnamon. It is valued above other varieties. It has a delicate aroma and low content of a phenolic compound – coumarin is considered the best. The bark is thin and curls on both sides.
- Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) is the most popular variety and is commonly referred to as “cinnamon”. It has a milder, spicy flavor compared to the Indonesian variety. However, Chinese cinnamon contains coumarin, a substance that can be harmful in large quantities.
- Malabar Cinnamon is characterized by a bright peppery aroma. It is considered the lowest quality, it does not curl into tubules, it looks like a tree bark.
How is cinnamon used?
There are three main areas of application. Thanks to its remarkable characteristics, the oriental spice is used not only in culinary, but as a medicine and cosmetic ingredient.
The most common use for cinnamon is known to be in culinary. It is used primarily for flavoring confectionery and is added to baked goods sweets, desserts, pastries, fruit salads, warming and soft drinks, punches, sauces and marinades, soups, meat, etc. Cinnamon biscuits, rolls, pies and gingerbread are world-renowned classics!
Cinnamon is widely used in traditional medicine. In combination with honey, it will help with colds. The spice normalizes blood sugar and supresses appetite. This property is used for weight loss. A little cinnamon powder is added to remedies for the treatment of diseases of the throat, blood, reproductive system, joints, and muscle tissue. It is also used to prevent blood clots, colon cancer, and diseases of the mouth and upper respiratory tract. Cinnamon is said to help prevent heart attacks and vascular disease. Of course, before using cinnamon for medicinal purposes, you should discuss this with your doctor.
In cosmetology, cinnamon is added to masks that improve the condition of skin and hair due to its ability to stimulate blood circulation. It is used in creams, shampoos and perfumes as well.
What are cinnamon benefits for health?
Let’s find out the beneficial properties of cinnamon. It has been used as a medicine for ages and modern science confirms its healing properties. Cinnamon contains a large amount of minerals, vitamins and essential oils that have a beneficial effect on the body. For example – cinnamaldehyde, cinnamate, cinnamic acid, Vitamin A, Vitamins from the B group, C, K, etc. In addition, it contains minerals like calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Zinc, etc.
Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols. They protect the body from oxidative stress caused by free radicals and prevent aging. These health-protecting agents play a vital role for human health because they reduce the harmful effects of age-related changes, exercise, poor diet, or stress.
Cinnamon has strong anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamaldehyde, which is the main active ingredient in cinnamon, fights bacteria and fungal infections. The ability to relieve inflammation is hugely important. Fighting excessive inflammation by adding cinnamon to our diet is a great way to improve health and prolong life. Cinnamon has a positive effect on preventing Alzheimer and Parkinson disease. It is important to note that reducing this inflammation is not only beneficial for preventing these diseases, but also for reducing the negative effects of age on strength, coordination and balance.
The anti-microbial properties of cinnamon will protect your teeth and prevent tooth decay. It has been traditionally used as tooth powder and to treat toothaches, dental problems and bad breath.
Cinnamon also increases the blood circulation and advances tissue regeneration.
Cinnamon is a coagulant and prevents bleeding.
Cinnamon reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. It lowers bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while keeping good cholesterol levels stable. It also lowers blood pressure and may prevent heart problems.
Cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity. Insulin is one of the main hormones that regulates metabolism and is essential for transporting blood sugar. The benefit of cinnamon is that it lowers blood sugar levels and can significantly reduce insulin resistance.
Cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels by 10-30%. To many people, this health benefit is essential. It is enough to 1-6 grams of cinnamon to your morning coffee.
Cinnamon may protect against cancer. It appears to be toxic to cancer cells and prevents their development. Cinnamon also lowers the risk of digestive cancer by improving gut health and promoting the secretion of antioxidants in the colon.
The beneficial properties of cinnamon contribute to the development of a strong, healthy immune system.
Let’s summarize the health benefits of cinnamon:
- cinnamon is a natural antiseptic, it helps to fight germs and bacteria;
- natural antioxidant;
- it helps fight fungus;
- helps to improve the digestive tract, relieves nausea;
- cleanses the liver and gallbladder, removes excess fluid from the body;
- helps to concentrate, strengthens vision and memory;
- helps to get rid of headaches and improves mood;
- normalizes blood pressure and strengthens the cardiovascular system;
- removes bad cholesterol;
- lowers blood sugar levels;
- helps to lose weight by activating metabolic processes;
- increases the tone of the body and strengthens the immune system.
- Activates brain activity;
- improves memory;
- has antidepressant effect;
- prevents dental problems and bad breath.
Cinnamon consumption and precautions
Does cinnamon have side effects? How much cinnamon can you eat per day? While the benefits of cinnamon are undeniable, too much of this spice is bad for your health. To take advantage of cinnamon health benefits most experts recommend consuming one teaspoon (1 to 6 grams) per day. Note, that you should consume high quality Ceylon cinnamon and not the cheaper substitutes like Chinese cinnamon (cassia cinnamon). You should avoid cassia variety as it contains large doses of coumarin which can lead to liver damage or allergies and can even cause cancer. Ceylon cinnamon is practically coumarin free, so make sure you check the origin of the spice before purchasing it.
As we mentioned, there are people who are allergic to cinnamon. In such cases, try to avoid foods and products (toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum) containing cinnamon.
It is worth excluding cinnamon from the diet of pregnant and lactating women, people with kidney and liver diseases, high blood pressure, heart disease.
People suffering from diabetes should be very careful with cinnamon consumption. Yes, it does lowers blood sugar levels but too much cinnamon may lead to hypoglycemia. It is best to consult your doctor so that he advises you how much cinnamon you can eat per day.
Never eat dry cinnamon as it may cause cough and even difficulty breathing. Cinnamon must be added to food or drinks. Consuming the spice on an empty stomach irritates the mucous membrane and can lead to ulcers.