Cinnamon for Your Good Health
By Joan Whetzel
Cinnamon is one of the most popular baking and cooking spices around. Has been for centuries. Not only is tasty, it turns out that cinnamon has health benefits as well.
What Is Cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a little tree grown in Egypt and Brazil as well as a few countries in Asia – Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam, and India. The bark of the cinnamon tree is scraped off during the rainy season (when it’s more pliable), then dried and rolled into sticks. The sticks are often ground into a powder, making it easier to use for flavoring recipes. The bark contains an essential oil – cinnamonaldehyde – that give it that characteristic flavor and smell.
What Are the Health Benefits?
Chinese medicine uses cinnamon for colds, intestinal gas, nausea, diarrhea, and menstrual cramping. According to Chinese medicine, it also increase energy and vitality as well as improving circulation. Ayervedic medicine uses cinnamon as a treatment for diabetes, indigestion, and colds. As an ingredient in chai tea, cinnamon is said to aid in the digestion of fruit and dairy products.
Recent scientific studies of cinnamon have found a positive effect on blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels. According to one study published in the Diabetes Care journal, 60 people with type 2 diabetes were given cinnamon in pill form at dosages of 1, 3, and 6 grams (1/4 to 1 tsp). After taking the cinnamon for 40 days, their blood sugar levels improved by 18 to 29 %, their triglyceride levels improved by 23 to 30%, their LDL levels improved by 7 to 27%, and their total cholesterol levels improved by 12 to 26 percent. Studies have also shown that cinnamon increases resistance to yeast infections, reduces in the growth of leukemia and lymphoma cells, acts as an anti-clotting effect in the blood, relieves arthritis pain, reduces bacterial growth on food and acts as a food preservative, increases cognitive functioning in the brain and memory, and combats E. Coli production in juices that haven’t been pasteurized. It is also known to be a good source of manganese, iron, calcium, and fiber.
Ways to Include Cinnamon in Your Diet
Cinnamon can be found in supplement form in many pharmacies, grocery stores, and health supply stores. Of course, cinnamon can be added to the diet in many ways. Some of the most common ways to add cinnamon to your food naturally include:
· Mixing it with chocolate for chocolate sauces and hot chocolate.
· Adding it apple pie or spiced apples.
· Coating doughnuts with cinnamon sugar, making cinnamon pancakes or French toast, and making cinnamon rolls.
· Brewing tea.
· Adding it savory Mediterranean chicken and lamb dishes.
· Eating cinnamon flavored cereals.
· Cinnamon is one of the spices used for pickling, so using pickling spices in recipes will add cinnamon to the diet.
Warnings and Precautions
· Do not take cinnamon supplements if taking insulin or blood glucose medications unless under a doctor’s supervision as the diabetic medication and cinnamon combination tend to have an additive effect, causing glucose levels to drop too low.
· Do not stop taking insulin or blood glucose medications in favor of taking cinnamon supplements.
· Be advised that cinnamon contains a compound known as coumarin which is also found in celery, chamomile, sweet clover and parsley. Coumarin provides an anti-blood clotting mechanism (blood thinner) similar to Coumadin and can cause damage to the liver in high doses. So this supplement should not be taken by people with bleeding disorders.
· The essential oil in cinnamon is used for aromatherapy. But when taken in high doses can act as a central nervous system depressant.
· Pregnant women are advised not to take cinnamon supplements and should avoid ingesting excessive amounts in their food.
Wong, Cathy. About.com. Cinnamon for Health.
Health Diaries. 10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon.
Food. Kitchen Dictionary: Cinnamon.