The number of spices in the world is mind-boggling. What’s even more incredible though is how inherently good so many of these spices are for health. Cinnamon is one such wonder spice which has a host of benefits that are often overlooked by the modern pill-popping culture. Take a look at what regular doses of this amazing spice can do for you and your family.
Cinnamon Health Benefits
Good for Your Blood
Cinnamon does a number of great things for your blood. Firstly, it increases blood circulation which is always a good thing, especially for those at risk of high blood pressure. Next, it also manages to bring blood sugar under control thus making it a healing spice for diabetics. When added to foods that are high in fat or carbohydrates, cinnamon works to reduce the impact that those foods would have on your blood sugar. Stable blood sugar and circulation can lead to a more serene state of mind, so cinnamon’s blood benefits are also ensuring that you stay not just healthy but happy too. Plus, it also reduces the levels of LDL (the bad type of cholesterol) which in turn will lower your risk of heart conditions.
Anti-bacterial & Anti-fungal
Your grandmother probably knew this, as do advocates of Ayurveda and ancient Chinese medicine. Cinnamon has compounds which naturally fight off bacteria and other infection-causing pathogens like candida. So if you are very prone to colds or the seasonal flus and viral infections, perhaps it’s time to try adding some cinnamon to your diet.
Cinnamon is often touted as a weight loss spice. This is not really true. However, what cinnamon does do is rev up a sludgy metabolism and tune up your digestive system. If you often face constipation or diarrhoea, flatulence, or simple an uneasy stomach, a cinnamon tea may help to stabilise your insides. However, do not overdo it. Cinnamon is wonderful in moderation but can just upset your stomach even more and also be toxic if you take too much of it. It is advisable to seek personalised recommendations from a nutritionist, alternative health practitioner or an Ayurvedic doctor, especially if you are on medication or have existing health problems.
Helps with Pain Management
Since it has anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon may reduce pain caused by arthritis as well as the general aches and pains that accompany an aging body. Even headaches and menstrual pain can be managed or eliminated altogether (depending on severity) with regular cinnamon intake.
Helps your Body Absorb Other Nutrients
This is something like taking iron with vitamin C. The vitamin C allows the body to better absorb the iron, thus ensuring that you get the whole gamut of that mineral’s health benefits. Cinnamon is the same in that, when taken with other herbs and spices, it brings out the best in the rest of them. The ancient Indian system of Ayurveda in particular advocates the use of cinnamon in a tea with several other beneficial herbs and spices.
Benefits your Brain
Recent research hints that regular cinnamon intake may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. What’s really incredible here is that just the smell of the heady spice was enough to increase brain activity in test subjects. Memory, motor function and cognitive skills all were clearly boosted on sniffing cinnamon. This is quite encouraging and researchers feel confident that solutions to degenerative brain disorders might emerge through further studies.
A Potential Cure for Cancer
Studies have shown that the high levels of antioxidants in cinnamon prevent cancer cells from multiplying too rapidly. Whether or not cinnamon can be an effective cure or preventive measure for cancer, however, still remains to be seen.
How To Get the Benefits of Cinnamon
How much cinnamon do you really need to gain all of these amazing health benefits? Believe it or not, not more than one teaspoon. There are several ways in which you can incorporate this wonder spice in your diet.
- Put it in your baked goods like cookies and cakes. Cinnamon imparts a sweet, roasty flavour that will tantalise both your nose and your palate.
- Sprinkle it on your tea, coffee, herbal tea for a heady morning cuppa.
- Add it to your soups or lentils. It gives these foods a spicy, woody kick.
- Because it has an earthy flavour, cinnamon works well with some types of meat too, especially if you are roasting them. You can add cinnamon to the marinade or sprinkle it sparingly on the top.
- Make cinnamon tea. Simply soak half a teaspoon (or less, depending on your tolerance of its strong flavour) in hot water for about five to ten minutes. Strain and drink. Avoid adding sugar.
- Add a little warm oil on toast and then sprinkle with cinnamon. You can also sprinkle sugar to taste.
- You can try sprinkling cinnamon on your smoothies too, but researchers believe that the spice does not impart its benefits in cold beverages and that it needs to be mixed in hot foods or at least slightly to get health results. There’s no harm in trying though.
To get the best benefits of cinnamon, ensure that the cinnamon you use is as fresh as possible. Since you will only be using very small quantities at a time, avoid buying the spice in bulk. If you grind it into a powder and store it in an airtight container in cool, dry conditions, it will stay edible for about half a year. It will stay fresh longer than that if you store it in the fridge.
Fortunately, cinnamon has no side effects. However, you may be allergic to it so do a test before you start adding it to your foods. Too much cinnamon has been known to affect liver functioning so if you suffer from liver disease, then steer clear of the spice. But for most people, it will have no contraindications whatsoever.
You have to admit, it’s a tasty and aromatic way to better health. So why wait? Whip up your favorite recipes and see what a dash of cinnamon can do for the flavor and your health.