Cinnamon has a long history both as a spice and as a medicine. It is one of the oldest spices known to man. Its uses and benefits have been documented as early as 2700 B.C. throughout China, Europe and Egypt. Cinnamon offers anti-clotting and anti-microbial benefits, boosts brain function and contributes to a healthy colon. It may also help control blood sugar in people with diabetes.
The characteristic flavor and aroma of cinnamon comes from a compound in the essential oil of the bark called cinnamonaldehyde. Cinnamaldehyde works against harmful blood platelet clotting, which can result in inadequate blood flow. It accomplishes this by inhibiting the release of arachidonic acid (a fatty acid responsible for the inflammatory response) from cell membranes. Thus, cinnamon is beneficial for any condition that causes inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
There are four main varieties of cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon are the most popular. Ceylon cinnamon is sometimes called true cinnamon. It is more expensive and has a sweet taste. The quills are softer and can be easily ground in a coffee grinder. Ceylon cinnamon is sold in specialty stores.
Most cinnamon sold in supermarkets in North America comes from the less expensive variety, Cassia cinnamon. It has a darker color and the quills are harder. Unlike Ceylon cinnamon, it can’t be easily ground into a powder using a coffee grinder.
BENEFITS OF CINNAMON
Yeast infections – use cinnamon oil to alleviate the effects of thrush.
Arthritis – a Danish university study found that half a teaspoon of cinnamon combined with a tablespoon of honey, taken before breakfast, could ease the pain of arthritis.
Stomach upsets and diarrhea can benefit from taking cinnamon which is said to combat the E Coli bacteria. Put a teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and honey in a cup of warm milk.
Appetite suppressant – anecdotal evidence from some diabetics using cinnamon suggest that this is a useful side-effect.
Bad breath – cinnamon doesn’t just cover up bad breath, it actually helps fight the bacteria responsible for causing the problem.
Additional benefits include: Cures headaches and migraines, Lowers blood sugar in Diabetics, Relieves tooth aches, Aids in decreasing Arthritis pain, Lowers LDL cholesterol levels (the bad kind), Alleviates sore throats, Cinnamon scents enhance memory and cognitive function, Prevents blood clots, reducing risks of deep vein thrombi and pulmonary embolisms, All natural food preservative, Reducing the risk of colon cancer, Kidney stones, Reduces high blood pressure, Stops the formation of stomach ulcers, Combats the growth of liver cancer cells, Aids in digestion.
QUICK TIP: 2 teaspoons of cinnamon contains 12 calories. Cinnamon is available in either stick or powder form. The sticks can be stored for longer, the ground powder has a stronger flavor. If possible, smell the cinnamon to make sure that it has a sweet smell, a characteristic reflecting that it is fresh. Also, try to select organically grown cinnamon since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated (among other potential adverse effects, irradiating cinnamon may lead to a significant decrease in its vitamin C and carotenoid content.)
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-Eric & Maleka Beal
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Eric and Maleka Beal are health coaches and co-founders of BetterChoices, a health & wellness company and social community focused on educating, advocating, and promoting better health and wellness through lifestyle, nutrition, and fitness education.