Cinnamon health benefits should give all the lovers of this wonderfully aromatic and delicious spice another reason to love it!
This spice is obtained from the bark of the cinnamon tree which grows in abundance in Sri Lanka and China. To obtain it in the form we do see, the bark of the tree is dried and is then rolled into short sticks which are called quills.
Cinnamon is available in four qualities though the two most commonly found varieties of this spice are:
- Ceylon cinnamon: Ceylon is the old name for Sri Lanka and variety of spice originating from this country is called Ceylon cinnamon or the ‘true cinnamon’. The quills of this variety are soft and can be ground to a powder at home easily. It has a slightly sweet flavour to it and is more expensive than the other variety which is more popular due to its lower price.
- Cassia cinnamon: this is the less expensive variety of cinnamon and most of the spice available in North America is of this category. It is darker in color and comparatively harder than Ceylon cinnamon.
Here are some of the health benefits cinnamon is known to possess due to the presence of some active components found in the oils present in the bark of the tree from which it is obtained.
The three main components from which cinnamon health benefits are derived are:
- Cinnamaldehyde (or, cinnamic aldehyde),
- Cinnamyl acetate, and
- Cinnamyl alcohol.
Cinnamon Health Benefits
The various health benefits cinnamon possesses are:
- Lowers LDL cholesterol: High levels of LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) can be extremely harmful for the heart and other vital systems of our body. Cinnamon helps reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol by as much as 7-27% and the total cholesterol levels by 12-26%. Consuming as little as half a teaspoon daily has the desired effect.
- Lowers blood sugar levels: Though it has not yet been conclusively proven, an experiment carried out on a group of 60 people by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) in 2003 did suggest that consuming 1 gram of cinnamon every day for 40 days at a stretch can help lower levels of blood sugar in people suffering from Type II diabetes. Adding a little of this spice to a high carb food or to your dessert could keep the level of your blood sugar under check even after yielding to the occasional treat.
- Rich source of nutrients: Cinnamon is extremely rich in calcium (which helps strengthen teeth and bones), dietary fiber (which helps keep IBS and constipation at bay), iron and manganese. The calcium- fiber combination, in particular, is extremely beneficial for the health of the colon and also helps keep colon cancer under check.
- Anti-bacterial properties: Cinnamon is a natural anti-bacterial. Adding it to food suppresses the rate of multiplication of bacteria and thus helps prolong its shelf life by acting as a natural preservative.
- Anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties of this humble spice are among the various cinnamon health benefits. Due to its anti fungal properties, it is known to help cure yeast infections.
- Anti-inflammatory: the amazing anti inflammatory properties of this extremely popular spice is another of the health benefits cinnamon is known for. Inflammation along our internal organs caused due to consuming too many fried, fatty and processed foods gets relieved by consuming cinnamon.
- Stimulates the brain: The faintly aromatic smell of this delicious spice which you can use to enhance the flavour of your gravies as well as in your cakes, puddings and pies can stimulate the cells off the brain, if recent researches are to be believed. It has also been known to lower stress and help in improving memory.
- Anti-clotting: If the blood platelets present in our body stick to each other, our blood circulation would be seriously hampered. Cinnamaldehyde present in cinnamon helps this coagulation of platelets and thus performs anti-clotting functions, which is another addition to the list of cinnamon health benefits.
Honey and cinnamon used together have been known to provide relief in pain caused by arthritis.
In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
- Cancer prevention: Studies conducted by the USDA in Maryland proved beyond doubt that health benefits cinnamon possesses include its ability to fight various types of cancers, like lymphoma cancer cells and leukemia.
I am sure you will want to include more of this spice to your foods and desserts after reading about amazing cinnamon health benefits.