Spice up your health with cinnamon

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Cinnamon Health News(NaturalHealth365) Cinnamon has been used for centuries as a spice and medicine. It is most appreciated for its warming qualities and widely used in energy-based medical systems. Because of the superior health benefits of cinnamon it was regarded more precious than gold during ancient time.

The health benefits of cinnamon

The compound cinnamaldehyde and other active components namely cinnamyl acetate and cinnamyl alcohol in the essential oils are responsible for the positive health effects of cinnamon. Let’s take a closer look at the wonderful world of cinnamon:

Antioxidant: Cinnamon is found to exhibit powerful antioxidant effects, this has been demonstrated in many research studies. These studies confirm that cinnamon shows individual antioxidant effect as well as a synergistic effect in combination with other spices such as turmeric and cardamom.

One study concluded that cinnamon exhibited powerful antioxidant effects compared to other spices such as nutmeg, ginger as well as chemical preservatives BHT, BHA that are commonly used as food antioxidants.

Anti-inflammatory: Cinnamon is rich in polyphenolic compounds such as tannins and flavonoids which are shown to be partly responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties. They show stronger inhibition of macrophage activity and exhibit anti-inflammatory effect.

The compound hydroxycinnamaldehyde, in cinnamon, also exhibits anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting nitric oxide production via inhibition of NF-kappaB.

Anti-microbial: Cinnamon not only adds flavor to dishes but can also be an excellent natural food preservative. In a study published in International Journal of Food Microbiology (August 2003) – adding a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to approximately 3 ounces of carrot broth inhibited the growth of the common food bacteria (Bacillus cereus) for 60 days, along with refrigeration.

When the carrot broth was refrigerated in the absence of cinnamon, the bacterial growth flourished proving that cinnamon was an effective food preservative.

Stable blood glucose: Although there are conflicting reports on the effects of cinnamon on blood glucose, conclusions from a meta-analysis of studies suggested that cinnamon and extracts of cinnamon improved fasting blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Another recent study also found that cinnamon bark water extract (CWE) elevates glucose uptake through the promotion of insulin sensitivity. The use of cinnamon as an adjuvant therapy in treating diabetes seems to be very promising, but until conclusive evidence emerges, no definitive recommendations can be made.

Stimulates the brain: Few studies have shown that sniffing the fragrance of cinnamon is shown to stimulate the cognitive centers of the brain. More research is yet to emerge on this specific property of cinnamon.

According to a research study lead by Dr. Zoladz and team presented in the annual meet of the Association for Chemoreception sciences 2004 – chewing cinnamon-flavored gum stimulated the brain activity of study participants. They scored better in tests based on memory and visual -motor areas.

Great ways to enjoy cinnamon

The benefits of cinnamon can be enjoyed in our day-to-day meal preparations in many simple ways. Adding ground cinnamon to gravies and curries gives a pleasant flavor to the dish. Enjoy a warm beverage by simmering cinnamon sticks in a drink along with honey.

Another classic is cinnamon toast, with a drizzle of healthy oil from flax seed on whole grain toast sprinkled with cinnamon powder. Cinnamon adds a unique delicious taste and flavor to any dish and spreads warmness to the body, best appreciated during the brutal winter months.

Cinnamon is a wonderful spice but it is not the only key to better health. Remember to include a variety of herbs, spices and other condiments to enhance the flavor of your food and also enjoy their diverse health benefits.

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References:
Calucci L, Pinzino C, Zandomeneghi M et al. Effects of gamma-irradiation on the free radical and antioxidant contents in nine aromatic herbs and spices. J Agric Food Chem 2003 Feb 12; 51(4):927-34. 2003.
Anderson RA, Broadhurst CL, Polansky MM, Schmidt WF, Khan A, Flanagan VP, Schoene NW, Graves DJ. Isolation and characterization of polyphenol type-A polymers from cinnamon with insulin-like biological activity. J Agric Food Chem. 2004;52(1):65–70.
Lu J, Zhang K, Nam S, Anderson RA, Jove R, Wen W. Novel angiogenesis inhibitory activity in cinnamon extract blocks VEGFR2 kinase and downstream signaling. Carcinogenesis, 2009; 31(3):481-488.
Whitney EN, et al. Understandoing Normal & Clinical Nutrition, 4th ed. Belmont (CA): West Publishing; 1994.
Chun OK, Floegel A, Chung SJ, Chung CE, Song WO, Koo SI. Estimation of antioxidant intakes from diet and supplements in U.S. adults. J Nutr 2010;140:317-24

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    The most common form of cinnamon, cassia, contains large amounts of coumarin which can damage your liver if used regularly at doses nearing a tsp.
    Ceylon cinnamon contain very little coumarin by comparison and is better choice for supplementation.