Cinnamon’s scientific name is Cinnamomum verum, and it’s a spice that’s commonly used in dessert recipes or added to coffee. But many ancient cultures considered it a miracle food, and revered it for its countless health benefits. Cinnamon can help fight diseases, and it seems like every time we turn around some new benefits of cinnamon have been discovered. Learn about them in the following article.
Benefits of cinnamon that you definitely didn’t already know
With its distinctive aroma and flavor, especially when added to sweets, cinnamon is one of the most-used spices in the world for food preparation. But cinnamon has many health benefits, too.
It was discovered recently that cinnamon can help lower levels of blood sugar and protects us from dyslipidemia. A few other properties of this spice, which is extracted from the bark of a tree, include promoting good digestion, relieving intestinal discomfort, eliminating flatulence, and reducing abdominal inflammation.
Cinnamon’s phenolic compounds (which are also present in grapes and red wine) give this spice higher than usual antioxidant properties. We can also highlight its content of flavonoids, which are also found in large quantities similar to that of blueberries.
By consuming cinnamon oil you can reduce the growth of fungal bacteria because it’s a powerful antibiotic. This is used quite frequently in the cosmetics industry.
Cinnamon also contains vitamins B1 and C, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium: all essential nutrients for our health. It has relaxing effects, being a potent reliever of nervousness, stress, irritability, anxiety, and even depression.
Cinnamon’s anti-inflammatory properties are used to soothe muscle or joint pains, for example from rheumatoid arthritis or stiffness from poor posture. And it’s been shown to reduce coughs, colds, and congestion. Cinnamon lowers glucose levels and fights fat stored in the arteries, making it an excellent choice for people who suffer from diabetes or high cholesterol.
Beyond the advantages listed above, cinnamon is quite good for the digestive system. It has antiemetic, or anti-vomiting, properties, it helps stimulate the appetite (ideal for patients suffering from certain diseases), and it’s a potent anti-diarrheal.
Women can especially benefit from cinnamon because it reduces menstrual cramping and promotes circulation. But if you’re trying to become pregnant, don’t consume too much of this spice because it can have contraceptive effects. And if you are pregnant, avoid cinnamon altogether – it has been linked to miscarriages.
One curious medicinal benefit that you definitely didn’t know about is that cinnamon can soothe the pain from a burn to the tongue (which happens often). Just suck on a cinnamon stick!
How to take advantage of cinnamon
When you’re buying cinnamon you can choose from stick or powdered form. In either case, you need to handle it with care and store it in a sealed glass container. Keep it in a cool, dark, dry place. Cinnamon sticks remain fresh for a year, and powder lasts for six months, but you can extend their life by storing them in the refrigerator. When it’s fresh, you can smell it. This spice should always have a sweet aroma.
It’s best to buy organic cinnamon, grown without pesticides or other chemicals that are harmful to your health – non-organic products usually lack vitamin C and carotenoids. To obtain the benefits described above, you should consume between 1 and 6 grams of cinnamon a day. To give you an idea of how much that is, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon is about 4 grams. You can add cinnamon to various dishes – baked into a pastry, sprinkled onto food, raw (this has a strong flavor), or in combination with other foods. It’s best to combine cinnamon with hot foods or beverages because it’s not absorbed well by food at cold temperatures and can taste very strong.
One of the best ways to consume cinnamon is in a tea or with coffee. This can be especially good for you when you have a cold or the flu. A teaspoon per cup of tea is all you need. For coffee, you can add a teaspoon and a half to the grinds before brewing. And in soup, cinnamon is delicious – adding a warming effect and exotic flavor especially to lentils or black beans.
Cinnamon is a perfect digestive aid after lunch or dinner. This is great for people who frequently experience heartburn or stomach aches, and especially after large meals (remember that the holidays are coming). Drinking cinnamon tea before going to bed will make you feel less stuffed.
And there are still more ways to benefit from cinnamon! One study indicated that the aroma of this spice stimulates brain function and increases cognitive processing. Some people find that chewing on a stick of cinnamon has the same effect. It’s perfect for before an exam, or when you have to stay up late to study.
Others use cinnamon oil or buy beauty products that contain it. And lastly, one very popular use: sprinkle ground cinnamon on your desserts that have whipped cream toppings. In fact, all sweets taste more delicious with a little cinnamon added to them, while simultaneously giving you the amazing benefits of this spice.