Everyone loves the warm, distinctive flavor that cinnamon adds to food dishes. But did you know that this ancient spice, taken from the bark of tropical trees, is an antioxidant powerhouse?
You'll get as many antioxidants in one teaspoon of cinnamon as a full cup of pomegranate juice or a half-cup of blueberries.
Cinnamon has many health benefits. It has shown promise in the treatment of diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol, memory function, and even leukemia and lymphoma.
Although cinnamon is full of nutrients like manganese, iron and calcium, the real source of cinnamon's healing properties are the various terpenoids (organic compounds) found in cinnamon oil.These oils are high in antioxidant proanthocyanins.
See Cinnamon Health Benefits to learn more.
Cinnamon has been used
as a treatment in traditional medicine
for over five thousand years!
Although there are four main varieties of cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), and Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) are the most popular. Cinnamon health benefits don't seem to be significantly different from one type to another.
Ceylon cinnamon is sometimes called "true cinnamon". It is more expensive and has a sweet taste, milder than Cassia. The quills are softer and can be easily ground in a coffee grinder. Ceylon cinnamon is usually only sold in specialty stores. Ceylon cinnamon uses only the thin inner bark, and thus has a finer, less dense, and more crumbly texture.
Cassia cinnamon, the less expensive variety, is the most common cinnamon sold in supermarkets in North America. This variety grows on small trees in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Brazil, Vietnam, and Egypt. It has a darker color and the quills are harder.
These varieties are sometimes sold labeled as cinnamon, and sometimes distinguished from true cinnamon as "Chinese cinnamon," "Vietnamese cinnamon," or "Indonesian cinnamon." Cassia has a much stronger flavor than Ceylon cinnamon, is generally reddish-brown in color, hard and woody in texture, and thicker, as all of the layers of bark are used.
The word cinnamon comes from the Greek kinnamomon.
Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known. It was mentioned in the Old Testament (Exodus 30: 22-33), and in Chinese writings as far back as 2800 BC.
In Ancient Egypt, cinnamon was used as a flavoring in food and beverages, and also in the embalming process.
Due to its demand, cinnamon became one of the first commodities traded regularly between the Near East and Europe.
Today, Ceylon cinnamon is produced in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean, while Cassia is mainly produced in China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Learn more about the history of cinnamon.
Cinnamon is a tree belonging to the Lauraceae family. The bark of the tree is what is used as a spice.
True cinnamon, or Ceylon cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon).
To make cinnamon, the bark of the cinnamon tree is dried and rolled into sticks, also called quills. Cinnamon can also be dried and ground into a powder.
The primary chemical constituents of this herb include cinnamaldehyde, gum, tannin, mannitol, coumarins and essential oils (aldehydes, eugenol, pinene).
Cinnamonaldehyde, a compound in the essential oil of the bark, gives cinnamon its characteristic flavor and aroma.
Just like with other dried spices, try to select organically grown cinnamon, since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated (among other potential adverse effects, irradiating cinnamon may cause a significant decrease in vitamin C and carotenoid content).
Cinnamon should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container, in a cool, dark and dry place.
Ground cinnamon will keep for about six months, while cinnamon sticks will stay fresh for about one year stored this way. You can also extend their shelf life by keeping them in your refrigerator.
Research indicates that it's not enough for you to have a just a few spicy meals a week to get the full antioxidant benefits of spices; you must consume larger quantities, on a daily basis.
If you want to get the most cinnamon health benefits, you'll need to get more than those small bottles you see at the supermarket. Those won't go far, and will cost much more by the pound than if you buy in bulk. Fortunately, I've got a wonderful source online for premium-quality organic cinnamon — Starwest Botanicals and iHerb.com.
Starwest Botanicals started as a small retail herb shop in 1975. Their primary objective, from the beginning, was to focus on quality — even building their own herb mill to ensure that goal.
Today, Starwest is one of the largest suppliers of organic herbs in the United States, with over a million pounds of herbs and spices in stock.
Cinnamon Supplements. If you want to use cinnamon to treat a health problem, you might have to eat more cinnamon than you'd like in order to get a beneficial effect. In that case, cinnamon is available as a nutritional supplement in capsule form.
More pages in this website on cinnamon:
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