The Benefits of Adding Cinnamon to Your Diet

The Benefits of Adding Cinnamon to Your Diet

The Benefits of Adding Cinnamon to Your Diet

Derived from the inner bark of the evergreen tree, cinnamon is one of the tastiest and healthiest spices on the planet. It is a popular kitchen ingredient that has been used throughout the world for centuries. It has also long been prized for it’s powerful medicinal properties.

Cinnamon has a warm and delicious aroma, which has made it popular in cooking, particularly for baked goods and Indian dishes. You can find cinnamon as a whole cinnamon stick, or as a ground powder. Below are some of the benefits of adding cinnamon to your diet.

Different varieties

There are two types of cinnamon:

  • Ceylon cinnamon: The main type of cinnamon, also known as “true” cinnamon.
  • Cassia cinnamon: More common today, with a stronger taste. It’s also slightly cheaper.

To maximize the medicinal properties of cinnamon, regardless the type, the key is freshness. While many prefer the sweet flavor of Ceylon cinnamon for desserts and the stronger potency of Cassia for savory dishes, you will most likely find a mixture of the two in most forms of commercial cinnamon.

Nutritional highlights

Cinnamon is reported to host a variety of health benefits, as it has frequently been used in Chinese herbal medicine. Both the smell and flavor of cinnamon is due to  the essential oils found in the bark. This specific oil is known as cinnamaldehyde, which has shown to have strong antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Cinnamon is also believed to carry a large amount of polyphenol antioxidants. In the body, antioxidants are known to help protect the body from disease and damaging free radicals. The antioxidants have also been found to help lower inflammation in the body.

In addition to powerful antioxidants, cinnamon also contains an impressive amount of manganese as well as small amounts of calcium and fiber.

Specific health benefits

Fights bacterial and fungal infections

The active ingredient Cinnamaldehyde has been found to help fight and protect against a number of infections. In can also inhibit the growth of certain bacteria while also preventing tooth decay and bad breath. Studies believe this is due to the powerful anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.

Blood sugar and type 2 diabetes

Cinnamon has been found to help decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal. It also contains a specific compound which acts on cells by mimicking insulin. This greatly improves glucose uptake by cells, though it does act much slower than insulin itself.  With 1-6 grams of cinnamon a day, it is believed that this spice may have a positive anti-diabetic effect on the body.

Improves heart health

Cinnamon has been linked to a lowered risk of heart disease. It reduces bad cholesterol levels and triglycerides while still maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. It has also shown to help lower blood pressure levels. All of these factors combined improve many risk factors for heart disease.

How to store and use

Cinnamon should be stored in an airtight container in a dark cabinet or space. Whole cinnamon cloves last about a year, however, ground cinnamon will begin to loose it’s flavor after just a few months. It is beneficial to keep fresh cinnamon on hand, as it holds all the nutritional and healing benefits.

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