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Cinnamon – A Spice for Good Health

Seema Jindal Jajodia September 19, 2018

Cinnamon – you would know of this spice to be commonly used in kitchen. Also known to you would be that it carries various good properties with it, especially for winters. But what are they? Well, to start with – did you know that, among all popular medicinal herbs and spices, it possesses the best anti-oxidant levels[1]!!! It is thus a super-spice promoting good health.

Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a tree known as the ‘Cinnamomum’. The history of this spice dates back to Ancient Egypt, where it was regarded as a gift for the royals. It is a common spice found across all households, and possesses a distinctly sweet and warm flavour to it. This flavour and aroma of cinnamon is due to its oily part, which is high on ‘cinnamaldehyde’ – the compound that contributes to the powerful health benefits that this spice carries.

There are two varieties of cinnamon: Ceylon Cinnamon and Cassia Cinnamon. Of the two, Ceylon Cinnamon is considered to be the better variety. This variety is native of Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean. The spice has been commonly used as a medicine for cough, sore throat, arthritis etc. since the medieval times. However recent advances have identified many other beneficial health properties of this super spice.

It is loaded with Anti-oxidants

Anti-oxidants protect you from the damages caused by free radicals. They fight oxidative stress and prevent any cell damage in your body. Cinnamon is a carrier of polyphenols, and thus anti-oxidants. It ranks even higher than many of your superfoods, such as, garlic and oregano, in terms of polyphenol content. This makes it a super-spice offering anti-oxidants naturally. Also, this property makes cinnamon a natural food preservative.

It is Anti-inflammatory

Inflammation helps your body fight infections and repair tissue damage. It thus helps your body defend itself from any harm However chronic inflammation, which lasts for many days or years together results in various health problems. The anti-oxidants in cinnamon possess anti-inflammatory properties as well, helping protect your body from any such occurrences within.

It reduces risk of Heart Disease

Cinnamon helps lowering total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your body. It also stabilizes HDL cholesterol levels. It slows down fat-storing process in your body, thus reducing cardiovascular damages related to lifestyle or a high-fat diet. It thus helps prevent the risk of heart disease. Also cinnamon is found to be effective in controlling blood pressure levels.

It helps improve Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin regulates metabolism and energy consumption in your body, and is also an essential element for maintaining blood sugar levels in body. Cinnamon helps reduce insulin resistance, which causes diseases such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

It has Anti-Diabetic Effects

Not only by reducing insulin resistance, there are other mechanisms too which help cinnamon reduce your blood sugar levels. It decreases the amount of glucose entering your bloodstream post meals. This is because it slows down the breakdown of carbohydrates in your digestive tract. Also, due to the presence of a bioactive component in cinnamon which has insulin-like effects, the spice also acts as an insulin substitute. It is thus recommended that you consume 1-6 grams of cinnamon per day, which equals 0.5-2 teaspoons.

It is effective in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are the two most common neurodegenerative diseases. Cinnamon prevents the build up of a protein known as ‘Tau’ in the brain, which causes Alzheimer’s disease. Also it helps protect neurons in the brain which helps improve your motor function and thus preventing Parkinson’s. This is because of the presence of cinnamaldehyde and another compound, known as epicatechin. These compounds protect you from any oxidative damages which can lead to brain dysfunction.

It helps fight Fungal and Bacterial Infections

Cinamaldehyde helps fight various infections in your body. It is effective in treating fungi-related respiratory tract infections in your body. Also it helps prevent tooth decay while reducing bad breath. Plus it also inhibits bacteria growth in your body.

Phew!!! These were quite many to count.

But the list is not ending here. Read more to know yourself.

It enhances Cognitive Functions

Peppermint and Jasmine are known to improve your cognitive functions. However recent studies have highlighted that cinnamon can work better as compared to these in terms of enhancing cognition. The smell of cinnamon can help improve virtual recognition memory, working memory as also visual-motor response speed.

It soothes Sore Throats and Coughs

Mucilage is created when you soak cinnamon sticks in water. This water soluble fiber coats your throat when you consume this water. Thus the antibacterial properties of the spice begin to act directly on your throat preventing any ailments. Also the warming properties of cinnamon improve blood flow and oxygen levels in your body, helping fight any infections.

Using Cinnamon

  • Soaking feet in cinnamon tea helps in killing fungi that cause athlete’s foot.
  • Boil cinnamon sticks in water for 10 minutes. Strain and consume. This provides relief from Nausea.
  • A hair mask mixed with cinnamon helps avoid hair loss in the dry weathers and also promotes hair growth.
  • Cinnamon Bark Oil helps treat digestive imbalance. The warmth of this oil improves blood flow and blood oxygen levels. Include cinnamon as an active ingredient of your hot drinks such as tea.
  • Coughs and cold can be treated by drinking a cinnamon – infused water with a drop of honey added to it 2-3 times a day.
  • Cinnamon Powder mixed with rose water is effective in treating dry winter skin. Also its anti-microbial properties help prevent acne.

Cinnamon is a wonder spice carrying many health benefits for you, especially during the winter season. So soak in the warm aroma of this spice as you make it a part of your winter routine.You could include cinnamon in your regular diet in a variety of ways.  You could simply add it to hot water or any other hot drinks such as tea, milk, hot chocolate etc. It lends a warm, distinct flavour to your beverage. Also you could use the spice to flavour sweet dishes such as Cakes, Rolls, Cookies etc. Alternately, you may sprinkle Cinnamon powder to your desserts, cereals, fruits, salads or yogurt for that woody warm flavour.

Have a Cinnamon-y Winter !!!!

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