The Powerful Nutritional Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is one of the most anti-oxidant rich herbs on the planet. It has been revered by nearly every culture for centuries for its sweet taste and pleasant aroma. Cinnamon has been shown to have remarkable medicinal qualities that enhance blood sugar signaling, reduce inflammation, stimulate immunity and promote neurological health.
Cinnamon is naturally attained from the inner bark of a specialized family of trees with the genus name Cinnamomum. It is primarily grown in South East Asia regions with Sri Lanka being the major producer at 80-90% of the world’s supply.
Cinnamon is one of the oldest and most revered spices in the world. It was mentioned in the Bible several times as a component Moses used in anointing oil and it is in the perfume in the Song of Solomon among other areas. Cinnamon was so highly esteemed that it was considered more precious than gold.
Cinnamon is one of the highest ranked anti-oxidant rich spice with an incredible ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity) score of 131,420 (1). Cinnamon’s powerful essential oils are known for their “anti-microbial” factors (2). Studies have shown this spice to be highly effective at halting the growth of bacteria as well as fungi, including the commonly problematic yeast Candida (3).
Cinnamon also helps to balance blood sugar by stimulating insulin receptors, giving them a stronger affinity for the blood-sugar lowering hormone (4). In response, the body needs to produce less insulin in order to create the desired effect. This creates less pancreatic stress, improved metabolic rate, and decreased inflammation (5).
Active Compounds in Cinnamon:
Cinnamon has three major oils that contain active compoenets called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate and cinnamyl alcohol. Cinnamaldehyde have been studied to block the release of inflammatory agents on the cell membrane (6).
If this isn’t enough, the mere scent of cinnamon has been shown to powerfully stimulate regions of the brain allowing for greater attention span & memory. Sprinkle tons of this amazing spice on sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, fruit, pastries, ice cream, egg nog, etc.
The Shelf Life of Cinnamon:
Cinnamon should be kept in a cool, dark area with a tight seal to reduce oxidation of its powerful nutrients. Ground cinnamon will stay good for 6 months in the proper conditions while cinnamon sticks will last about a year. Refrigeration helps extend this lifespan. If the cinnamon does not smell sweet than it is no longer fresh and should be thrown away. Old cinnamon smells somewhat rusty and has a reduced aromatic component.
Two major types of cinnamon commonly found on the market include Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia. These are from the same family but only the Ceylon variety is considered true cinnamon. Ceylon is more expensive and nutrient dense but also harder to come by. Both types have been shown to have powerful anti-microbial, anti-iflammatory and blood sugar regulating abilities.
Coumarin Content in Cinnamon:
The major difference between the two is the coumarin content. Coumarins are blood thinning agents that are found in many different plants. High intake of these coumarins can cause too low a blood thinning affect. Cassia cinnamon has much higher levels of coumarins and therefore must be used in moderation in comparison to the Ceylon (7, 8).
The challenge of the consumer is that the different types are most often not clearly labeled. The powders look and smell the same. It is best for individuals to use this spice in moderation unless they know for sure it is the Ceylon type. A half teaspoon daily is plenty to derive the benefits of this super herb.
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