How wonderful does cinnamon smell when you are cooking something with this beautiful spice? From the smell to the flavor to the health benefits, cinnamon has a lot to offer. It is one of the oldest spices, and its use dates back to ancient Egypt. It was one of the first spices traded to the Mediterranean area, and was considered very valuable - even more so than gold. It has been used medicinally to fight illness and recent research supports the several health promoting aspects of this spice. It has anti-inflammatory properties based on the antioxidant-rich active compounds found in the bark's essential oils, and is a nice source of the trace mineral manganese. Keeping with the idea that food is information for our cells, cinnamon provides the exact information we want our cells to receive.
Some of the health promoting qualities outlined on the World's Healthiest Foods website include:
- Anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties: cinnamon can reduce unwanted clumping of platelet cells and can reduce the amount of the inflammatory fatty acid, arachidonic acid, from cell membranes
- Anti-microbial properties: cinnamon has been studied for its ability to stop the growth of bacteria and fungi (including the yeast, Candida), and can be used as a natural preservative in food
- Blood sugar regulation: studies have shown cinnamon to slow the absorption of sugar from our food, and to increase our cells' sensitivity to insulin, which can increase our cells' ability to use sugar. Researchers also believe that cinnamon has the ability to help reduce risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes
- Brain function: researchers have found that smelling cinnamon can boost brain function
Cinnamon can be found in stick or ground powder form. It comes from the bark (cinnamon sticks are curled up pieces of the inner bark) of the Cinnamomum tree and there are several different types available, but the two main types used today are:
- Ceylon (also called True Cinnamon or Mexican Cinnamon) is more rare of the two types; it has a more sweeter and refined taste
- Cassia (also included in this group are Chinese, Korintje and Saigon Cinnamon) is more common than the Ceylon version
Both types are similar and contain the same health promoting benefits due to their antioxidant rich essential oils and micronutrients. There are some groups that believe that the Ceylon variety may actually be better for you than the Cassia version due to the fact that the Cassia version has a higher amount of what are called coumarins that are believed to be harmful to the liver when consumed in large quantities. I also read that it would take a lot of Cassia cinnamon to have a negative impact from the coumarins, and most people don't consume that much. Either way, I would opt for fresh, organic versions. If you consume cinnamon regularly in large quantities, the Ceylon variety may be the better option.
Want more cinnamon love? Here are a few suggestions:
- Sprinkle on top of full fat yogurt (from grass fed cows) or full fat coconut milk (with some berries, nuts, seeds)
- Sprinkle on top of oatmeal or other whole grain warm breakfast cereal
- Add to smoothies
- Make a warm cinnamon tea, using cinnamon sticks and nut milk
- Sprinkle on pears or apples and bake for a nice dessert; sprinkle on applesauce
- Sprinkle on top of a baked sweet potato along with some grass-fed ghee or coconut oil
- Make a curry with coconut milk, cinnamon and other spices; add to your chili recipe along with other spices
- Add to your morning coffee with some coconut oil
- Add to any baking recipe
Please Note: Cinnamon is a moderate source of oxalate, so anyone with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should keep this in mind. Also, in The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, the author states that the Ceylon version is not recommended for pregnant women, as it can cause the uterus to contract.
Dr. Axe Website. Health Benefits of Cinnamon. Retrieved from: https://draxe.com/health-benefits-cinnamon/
Murray, Michael, ND, Pizzorno, Joseph, ND, Pizzorno, Laura, MA, LMT. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. Atria Books: New York, NY.
Wood, Rebecca. (2010). The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. Penguin Books: New York, NY.
the world's healthiest foods website
World's Healthiest Foods Website. Retrieved from: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=68&tname=foodspice#healthbenefits
Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. Cassia Cinnamon as a Source of Coumarin in Cinnamon-Flavored Food and Food Supplements in the United States. Retrieved from: https://www.cinnamonvogue.com/DOWNLOADS/Cinnamon_and_coumarin.pdf
The Healthy Home Economist Website. Ceylon or Cassia? Retrieved from: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/ceylon-or-cassia-cinnamon-benefits-not-a-matter-of-variety/