This familiar spice has been used for centuries, medicinally and in the kitchen. The scent of cinnamon evokes happy feelings of warmth and home. And, as it turns out, this feel good spice promotes health and wellness also.
What is Cinnamon?
Cinnamon comes from a type of tree, and the unique smell, color and flavor of the spice is a result of the oils within the tree. The health benefits of cinnamon come from the bark of the tree. This bark contains several special compounds which are responsible for its many health-promoting properties, including cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid and cinnamate.
The cinnamon tree is grown around the world with at least 250 species identified so far. However, there are two main types of cinnamon spice used today: Ceylon cinnamon, which is less common and sometimes labeled as true or real cinnamon, and Cassia cinnamon, which is more widely available and most often used.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon supplies a wide variety of nutrients and it is especially rich in fiber, manganese, calcium, iron and vitamin K. It also contains trace amounts of vitamins A, B6, C and E, and minerals such as phosphorus, sodium, potassium and zinc.
Health benefits include:
• High in antioxidants, which reduces free radical damage and slows the aging process.
• Prevents oxidative stress and nitric oxide build up in the blood, lowering the risks for brain disorders, cancer and heart disease.
• Relieves inflammation, which helps lower the risk of cognitive decline and reduces pain, muscle soreness and age related stiffness.
• Reduces high cholesterol and triglyceride levels and high blood pressure to keep the heart healthy and strong and lower the risk for strokes. Cinnamon is a helpful blood coagulant and can stop excess bleeding by helping the body to form blood clots. It also increases circulation and improves tissue repair, which may be especially helpful for regenerating heart tissue in order to help fight heart attacks, heart disease and stroke.
• Lowers blood sugar levels and improves sensitivity to insulin, which helps transport sugar from the bloodstream to the tissues to keep blood sugar levels balanced.
• Aids against the development of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
• Protects against DNA damage, cell mutation and cancerous tumor growth, especially in the colon.
• Boosts the immune system and fights against infections and viruses.
• Protects against certain strains of bacteria that cause bad breath, tooth decay, cavities and mouth infections.
• The powerful antifungal properties in cinnamon can be effective in treating and preventing Candida overgrowth in the digestive tract.
• Its antibiotic and antimicrobial properties help protect the skin from irritation, rashes, allergic reactions and infection.
• Cinnamon’s multitude of beneficial compounds help fight common allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation and fighting histamine reactions.
How to Use Cinnamon
There are many ways to include cinnamon in the diet. Dried powdered cinnamon can be added to many recipes and drinks or sprinkled onto organic oatmeal or freshly sliced fruit. Cinnamon sticks flavor drinks such as hot apple cider. The bark is an ingredient in many health boosting teas and cinnamon is available in essential oil form as well.
Cinnamon should not be overused, especially the cassia variety. Taken in moderation, however, this powerful spice brings health and wellness into our lives.
My favorite way to include cinnamon this time of year is in hot apple cider and warm turmeric tea, made with almond coconut milk. Fall is all about bringing warmth and coziness into our homes. Cinnamon is an incredible way to spice up life.