I thought I would explore one of the most common spices found in the kitchen, however we may not be aware of the many powerful medicinal properties it contains.
Cinnamon dates back to Egyptian times where it was used as a gift for Kings, as it was considered rare and more valuable than gold! Early on it also became very prominent in Chinese botanical medicine, and over time its popularity grew throughout Europe and the Middle East becoming one of the most regularly traded and relied upon spices.
Perfect for the winter months as it is warming and has a very fragrant smell, it can be used for a variety of dishes, teas, and I personally love adding it to smoothies.
So what are the many healing benefits of this delicious spice?
* It can assist people suffering from insulin resistance, pre-diabetes and diabetes as it reduces the rise of blood sugar after eating. In scientific studies 1 gram (1/4-1/2 teaspoon per day) was shown to lower blood sugar levels by 20%. There is also a compound in cinnamon which mimics insulin and can improve the cells glucose intake.
* Fights viruses as it has anti fungal and anti bacterial properties. It combats yeast infections such as candida, and has been shown to effectively treat respiratory infections caused by fungi. These properties also can work as a breath freshener and can prevent tooth decay.
* It is a powerful antioxidant, more than almost all other spices and herbs which helps prevent and fight chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. (A teaspoon of ground cinnamon has as many antioxidants as 1/2 cup of the popular blueberry).
* It is anti-inflammatory and can help symptoms of many auto-immune diseases, as well as ease pain and help reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
* Boosts brain activity, improves cognitive abilities, and helps to relieve nervous tension and memory loss.
* Rich in manganese and calcium essential for healthy bones, as well as being high in fibre.
* It has been linked to reducing the of risk of heart disease as it lowers cholesterol levels and reduces blood pressure.
* Improves blood circulation and helps to increase blood flow.
* Its warming qualities also can ward of a chill in winter.
* It can help with weight loss as it boosts metabolism.
* It is good for digestion and soothes and calms your stomach.
There are two types of Cinnamon. Ceylon (True Cinnamon) and Cassia Cinnamon. Where possible it is better to use organic Ceylon cinnamon, as Cassia cinnamon (most often the regular brand in supermarkets), can have high levels of coumarin which can be toxic to some people in large doses. There was a study done in 2012 by "Diabetic Medicine" that did 16 studies of Ceylon cinnamon with beneficial results without toxicity complications. You can buy Ceylon cinnamon at speciality spice stores, health food stores, and even on Amazon
Although I haven't focused on it here Cinnamon oil is also available, and has many interesting more topical uses.... even said to be an aphrodisiac!
I have about 1 teaspoon a few times per week, normally in my morning smoothie.
I also love it as a tea and there are some great brands on the market, I especially love Pukka Cinnamon tea and the Yogi tea brands. However when I have the time I also love using a cinnamon stick and heating it in almond milk with other warming spices.
It is great to add to curries and middle eastern dishes, plus you can also toss it through rice, quinoa and other grain dishes.
Also a great addition to oatmeal or porridge.
Keep Cinnamon in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dry and dark place.
If you find it hard to get it into your diet, but feel it would be beneficial for you, there is also the option to buy it as a capsule form.
Since it is such a regular spice in our kitchen, and absolutely delcious, it is well worth incorporating into your diet wherever possible.