Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices in ancient and modern times. It is made from the dried and pulverized bark of cinnamon tree, Cinnamomum sp. which grows in countries like India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brazil, and Egypt. A compound called cinnamonaldehyde provides cinnamon its characteristic flavor and aroma. There are many varieties of cinnamon, but the two most popular are the Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) and Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia). Ceylon cinnamon, also known as the true cinnamon, is more expensive than Cassia cinnamon. It has better flavor and its quills are softer and easier to grind in coffee grinder. The less expensive Cassia cinnamon has harder quills and cannot easily be ground into powder using coffee grinder. Most cinnamons found in North American supermarkets are Cassia cinnamon.
As a spice, cinnamon is widely used in baking and cooking across different cultures. Besides its highly regarded status in culinary arts, cinnamon has also been a very important part of traditional Chinese and Indian medicine (Ayurvedic medicine). In fact, cinnamon was considered as one of the 50 fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. Cinnamon is a time-honored herbal medicine, tested by many generations. Through scientific experiments, cinnamon has been found to have amazing health benefits.
Cinnamon can help lower blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. In a study published in Diabetes Care (2003), researchers found out that people with type 2 diabetes who took cinnamon pill a day for 40 days have fasting blood glucose levels reduced by 18 to 29%; tricyglyceride levels reduced by 23 to 30%; LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) reduced by 7 to 27% and; total blood cholesterol reduced by 12 to 26%. Although the result of the study is promising, more studies should be done to confirm the effectiveness of cinnamon in treating type 2 diabetes.
Cinnamon has been known as a good preservative. It is because cinnamon contains compounds that inhibit bacterial and fungal growth. In laboratory studies, cinnamon has been found to kill Helicobacter pylori, E. coli, and other pathogenic bacterial strains. Taking cinnamon can help the body fight infection.
Cinnamon contains powerful antioxidants that help the body eradicate harmful toxins including free radicals – highly reactive atom or group of atoms with an unpaired electron. Free radicals can damage cell structures like the DNA and cell membrane. Too much free radical in the body can cause premature aging, cancer, and weak immune system.
Blood-thinning (anticoagulant) compounds found in cinnamon can improve blood circulation. Improved blood circulation means improved distribution of oxygen and nutrients to all body cells.
Cinnamon is traditionally used to treat diarrhea, indigestion, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, coughs, colds, and menstrual cramp.
Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties. Hence, it can be used to relieve pain associated to arthritis, rheumatism, and muscle injury.[ad#afterpost]