You may love 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, has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any spice? Antioxidants are responsible for many cinnamon health benefits.
Cinnamon has more antioxidants than many so-called antioxidant foods, ounce-for-ounce. One teaspoon of cinnamon has as much antioxidant capacity as a full cup of pomegranate juice or a half-cup of blueberries.
Beyond antioxidants, cinnamon is also rich in natural compounds called polyphenols. These compounds appear to mimic the action of insulin in your body and may help regulate blood sugar levels. That makes cinnamon an important food for people with diabetes.
Nutritional Content of Cinnamon. Cinnamon is high in polyphenols, proanthocyanidins, antioxidant activity, and is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium. More cinnamon facts here.
Cinnamon health benefits come from three basic types of components in the essential oils found in its bark. These essential oils are potent antibacterial and antifungal stimulants. They contain active components called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, plus a wide range of other volatile substances.
The parts of this plant that are used medicinally are the dried inner bark of the shoots and the oil distilled from the bark and leaves.
Cinnamon Health Benefits include a variety of health disorders, including diarrhea, arthritis, menstrual cramps, yeast infections, colds, flu, rheumatism and digestive problems. Cinnamon has been used for centuries and in many cultures. It has found a prominent position in traditional healing medicines, especially Ayurveda (the traditional Indian medicinal system).
Today, the use of cinnamon has expanded to treating a variety of health disorders, including respiratory problems, skin infections, blood impurity, heart disorders, and diabetes. Cinnamon has also been used to treat diarrhea and other problems of the digestive system.
A USDA study found that cinnamon health benefits lasted for at least 20 days after people stopped taking it.
Type 2 Diabetes. Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type-2 diabetes and hypoglycemia. Cinnamon contains certain proanthocyanidins that researchers say may have insulin-like properties.
Studies have found that cinnamon contains certain polyphenols that help activate insulin and transport glucose. Cinnamon may actually help people with Type 2 diabetes control blood sugar levels, and may significantly lower LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides as well. Discover more information on cinnamon for diabetes.
Arthritis and inflammation. Cinnamon health benefits include powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It helps in relieving the pain and stiffness of muscles and joints. Cinnamon is commonly recommended for arthritis.
In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week, and could walk without pain within one month.
Anti-Microbial and Anti-Fungal Activity. In laboratory tests, growth of yeasts that were resistant to the commonly used anti-fungal medication fluconazole was often (though not always) stopped by cinnamon extracts.
Studies have indicated that cinnamon oil and cinnamon extract have antifungal, antibacterial and antiparasitic properties. Cinnamon has been found to be effective in fighting vaginal yeast infections (Candida), oral yeast infections, stomach ulcers and head lice. In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections.
Cinnamon Boosts Brain Function. Cinnamon boosts the activity of the brain and qualifies as an excellent brain food. Research found that chewing cinnamon-flavored gum, or just smelling cinnamon, improved memory and performance of certain tasks. Study participants' scores on tasks related to attentional processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor speed while working on a computer-based program, all improved significantly.
Encouraged by the results of these studies, researchers now are interested in cinnamon health benefits for enhancing brain function in the elderly, individuals with test-anxiety, and possibly even patients with Alzheimer's and other degenerative neurological diseases.
Cinnamon Health Benefits Protects Against Heart Disease. The Standard American Diet is a major cause of inflammation in your internal tissues and organs, and this inflammation has been identified as a primary cause of heart disease. Andrew Weil, M.D., among many other experts, recommends an anti-inflammatory diet as a means of reducing your risk of heart disease and strokes. In his words:
Cinnamon health benefits include potent anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful in the prevention of heart disease. Cinnamon also improves your circulation, due to the presence of a blood thinning compound. Good blood circulation ensures oxygen supply to your cells, leading to higher metabolic activity and further protection against heart disease.
The cinnaldehyde in cinnamon helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets. Platelets are blood cells that are meant to clump together under emergency circumstances (like physical injury) as a way to stop bleeding, but under normal circumstances, they can make blood flow inadequate if they clump together too much.
Blood Purification. Cinnamon helps in removing blood impurities, and is often recommended for pimples.
Infections. Due to its antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic properties, it is effective on external as well as internal infections. It helps in destroying germs in the gall bladder and bacteria in staph infections.
Healing. Cinnamon helps to stop bleeding, and facilitates the healing process.
Indigestion. Besides adding flavor to your food, cinnamon also aids your digestion. It's very effective for indigestion, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea and flatulence. It also relieves acidity, diarrhea and morning sickness. It is therefore often regarded as a digestive tonic.
Respiratory problems. Cinnamon helps in cold, flu, influenza, sore throat and congestion.
Menstruation. Cinnamon is effective in providing relief from menstrual discomfort and cramping.
Diuretic Effects. Cinnamon is diuretic in nature and helps in secretion and discharge of urine. It is also aphrodisiac and is believed to arouse sexual desire. It is also believed that cinnamon aids in the secretion of breast milk.
Cancer Prevention. In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the growth of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
Cinnamon reduces your risk of colon cancer by helping to remove excess bile in your digestive tract and prevent the damage it can cause to colon cells.
Cinnamon health benefits are so numerous, ideally you'd want to have some cinnamon every day. However, as with any herb or spice, you may find it impractical to include it in your meal plans that often. There's an easy way to accomplish this — by making yourself a fresh smoothie every day and adding some cinnamon and other spices to your recipe.
Fresh smoothies can be some of the most nutritious, delicious and easy-to-make meals you could imagine. They're a great way to get more of those "good for you" antioxidant-rich foods (that you may not get enough of) into your diet.
I personally use herbs such as basil, cilantro and parsley in my green smoothie recipes to give them more of the benefits of dark green leafy vegetables. Because they're so concentrated with antioxidants, you can use a much smaller amount than you would with other greens like kale or spinach, and they won't overwhelm the flavor of your smoothie recipe.
I don't stop there, either. I like to use other spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, turmeric and others in my smoothie recipes, mostly for their added antioxidant benefits. Once they're blended in with all the other ingredients, you can't really distinguish any one particular taste. You just need to experiment a little with the proportions to get the flavor just right for you.
To learn more about the art of making smoothies, skip on over to my page on How to Make a Smoothie the Healthy Way and learn all my tricks for making delicious and nutritious smoothies!
Cinnamon in Your Oatmeal. When I'm not feeling like a smoothie (especially on cold mornings), I like to have a bowl of hot oatmeal. Warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, turmeric and ginger (all exceptionally high in antioxidants) work very well with oatmeal. I also add a good amount of coconut oil and nuts to create a truly exceptional start to my day.
Cinnamon in Your Coffee. You can also mix some cinnamon into your coffee grounds and make a delicious cinnamon-flavored cup of coffee.
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 don't want to reply on those small bottles you see in the spice rack at the supermarket. Those will quickly get used up, 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, bulk organic cinnamon — Starwest Botanicals.
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.
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