Cinnamon is a spice that provides a range of amazing health benefits. It can be used daily in so many ways.
History tells us that during this time it was considered more precious than gold. Cinnamon’s popularity has continued to grow throughout history as a popular spice, most commonly known in the cooking circles.
Cinnamon (Cinnamonum verum) comes from the brown bark from the cinnamon tree. When dried, it is rolled into cigar shape rolls, quills, and it is in this form that we commonly see cinnamon as a cinnamon stick. It is also available in a ground powdered form.
History reveals there are almost one hundred varieries of cinnamon, however there are two leading varieties most commonly consumed.
- Ceylon cinnamon (true cinnamon)
- Chinese cinnamon (cassia)
Despite their differences, they are from the same family yet ceylon cinnamon is considered the true cinnamon. They both have a sweet, warm taste with a lovely fragrance. In powdered form they look the same. They smell the same. For a consumer, unless marked correctly it would be almost impossible to differentiate. The ceylon variety is more expensive and considered to be more nutrient dense.
Regardless of the variety, both are incredibly powerful, providing antioxidants, blood sugar regulating abilities and enormous health benefits.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon has unique health benefits. There is no doubting that.
It’s ability to heal is due to three key components located within its bark. The essential oils that are extracted contain active components which are the secrets to its success.
Some ailments cinnamon is said to relive include digestive concerns, menstrual pains and stiff joints and muscles. Its anti-inflammatory properties have been linked to helping arthritis sufferers. Some studies indicate it may fight tooth decay.
- Blood Sugar Control
Cinnamon has been shown to slow the rate at which our stomach empties after we eat, therefore reducing the increase in blood sugar. This is important as it reduces the amount of insulin in our bloodstream, contributing to a more stable blood sugar level.
Cinnamon, consumed daily, may also help those with type 2 diabetes improve their response to insulin. Including cinnamon in your diet, as little as 1 gram per day, can reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant. When compared to other antioxidant spices, (such as star anise, ginger, mint and nutmeg), it prevented oxidation more effectively.
Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, an organic compound that gives cinnamon its flavor and fragrance. It is known for its effect on blood platelets, the constituents of blood that stick together to help stop bleeding. In some instances if blood platelets clump together too much they can make blood flow inadequate.
Miraculously, the cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets.
Cassia cinnamon has a much higher level of coumarins (blood thinning agent) than the ceylon variety
and therefore must be used in moderation. Large consumptions can cause the blood to thin too much.
As previously discussed, in powder form, these two varieties look almost identical therefore it is advised that unless you know you are consuming ceylon cinnamon, it should be used in moderation. A half teaspoon daily is plenty to derive the benefits of this super spice.
- Produced: Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean
- Features: Spicy, light citrus flavor
- Color: Golden or light tan
- Texture: Paper-thin layers that easily break apart in a grinder
Chinese Cinnamon ‘ Cassia ‘
- Produced: Mainly in China, Vietnam and Indonesia
- Features: Strong, dark flavor
- Color: Dark
- Texture: Thick, single layers that would be hard to break in a grinder
How to Store Cinnamon
Cinnamon can be purchased either as a stick or in powder form. The cinnamon stick has a longer shelf life, approximately one year, however the ground powder despite having a stronger flavor will only last 6 months.
A sweet smelling cinnamon stick indicates a fresh cinnamon stick.
Like many other spices, cinnamon should be sealed in a dry container in a cool place, or even in the fridge.
Cinnamon Essential Oils: Clove and Cinnamon
Essential oils, long known for their healing powers, are botanical extracts of plants, herbs and trees.
Clove and cinnamon essential oilsare said to have the greatest antioxidant density.
- Two drops of clove oil
- Four drops of cinnamon oil
Traditional chinese medicine uses cinnamon to provide relief of a cold or flu when mixed in a tea with some fresh ginger.
Common ways to eat cinnamon
Cinnamon is often said to be the most favored condiment. Here are some old favourites:
- Cinnamon toast
- Simmer cinnamon sticks with milk and honey healthy warm drink
- Add ground cinnamon to curries, nachos, burritos or lamb meals
- Add a dash to stews, soups and sauces.
- Bake apples with cinnamon
- Cinnamon buns, rolls and breads
- Sprinkle on cereal.
- Add to a freshly squeezed juice.
Cinnamon is so versatile. It is not just for sweet foods, but marries well with savoury also.