CINNAMON: WARM, EARTHY WELLNESS
The spice cinnamon comes from the brown bark of cinnamon trees and is sold as a quill (cinnamon stick) or ground powder. The two varieties of cinnamon most often found in western markets are the more common Chinese variety (also called Cassia), and Ceylon, which has a slightly sweeter flavor.
A good source of fiber and calcium, cinnamon is also high in the trace mineral manganese. It contains 3 primary properties plus volatile oils and other, lesser properties which growing research show provide a broad range of health benefits.
I’ve highlighted 6 of those benefits to inspire you to warm up your diet with cinnamon – be sure and read them all (hint: #6 is pretty astounding).
1. Anti microbial and anti fungal – cinnamon stops the growth of bacteria and fungi including Candida
2. Beneficial in the treatment of inflammation and arthritis
3. Reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides
4. Controls blood sugar in the following ways: reduces the rise in blood sugar after eating, stimulates insulin receptors and significantly increases cell’s ability to use glucose (in studies conducted, this was achieved by adding ¼ - ½ tsp of cinnamon to your diet). And there’s more…
In humans with type 2 diabetes, consuming as little as 1 gram of cinnamon per day was found to reduce blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol. The placebo-controlled study evaluated 60 people with type 2 diabetes (30 men and 30 women ranging in age from 44 to 58 years) who were divided into 6 groups. Groups 1, 2, and 3 were given 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon daily, while groups 4, 5, and 6 received 1, 3 or 6 grams of placebo. After 40 days, all three levels of cinnamon reduced blood sugar levels by 18-29%, triglycerides 23-30%, LDL cholesterol 7-27%, and total cholesterol 12-26%, while no significant changes were seen in those groups receiving placebo. The researchers' conclusion: including cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Khan et al, Diabetes Care 2003
5. Stabilizes and provides relief for people with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome including diarrhea and constipation.
6. Two compounds found in cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin have been shown to prevent the development of tau, the filamentous “tangles” found in the brain cells that characterize Alzheimer’s disease. “Interaction of Cinnamaldehyde and Epicatechin with Tau: Implications of Beneficial Effects in Modulation Alzheimer’s Disease Pathogenesis.” George, Lew, Graves 2013
Getting it on your plate or in your cup:
Sweet Potato Mash: 1-2 lg. sweet potatoes (skins on), steamed then mashed with 1-2 TBL olive oil, a dollop of plain yogurt, pinch of cinnamon and cayenne, s. and p. to taste.
Add cinnamon to your oatmeal or granola
Cinnamon is a staple ingredient in Chinese 5 Spice blends available at your supermarket or specialty store, add 5 Spice to chicken, fish, veggies, stir fry.
Not your Grandmother’s Super Antioxidant “Hot Chocolate”: Add ½ tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp of pure vanilla, 1-2 tsp of maple syrup or honey and 1-2 TBL of unsweetened cacao powder, to 8oz. unsweetened almond milk: heat almond milk in a sauce pan over a med heat until milk starts to steam, remove from heat, whisk in other ingredients and pour into your cup…oh yes! This is a great morning or mid day energy booster.
Note: The content above is intended to introduce you to the benefits of adding cinnamon to your diet, not your medicine cabinet. Dietary doses between ½ - 1 tsp per day, as suggested in the research above (see #4) can be beneficial in each of the areas highlighted. Research on higher dosages (cinnamon supplements) are not widely available. People taking blood thinners, pregnant and nursing women should consult their doctor before adding more than a modest amount of cinnamon to their diet.