Monday, September 15, 2008

The Many Benefits Of Cinnamon

As I walked into the house, I was greeted by the aroma of hot apple cider and mulling spices. There is something about fresh apple cider on the stove with the fragrance of cloves, cinnamon, orange peel, allspice and ginger that tells you cooler weather, football games and the harvest season are upon us.

I especially love the smell of cinnamon. I put a dash in my coffee and boil prunes and cinnamon sticks together before I spoon it over my morning oatmeal. It is so warm, soothing and tasty.

Did you know that the ancients put a high value on cinnamon?In the first century A.D., Pliny the Elder wrote of 350 grams of cinnamon as being equal in value to over five kilograms of silver, about fifteen times the value of silver per weight.

Medieval physicians used cinnamon in medicines to treat coughing, hoarseness and sore throats. As a sign of remorse, Roman Emperor Nero ordered a year's supply of cinnamon be burnt after he murdered his wife. The spice was also valued for its preservative qualities for meat due to the phenols which inhibit the the bacteria responsible for spoilage, with the added bonus being the strong cinnamon aroma masked the stench of aged meats.

Here are some of the health benefits of cinnamon as found by a large number of research studies from around the world:

1. Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol.

2. Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.Click here for the results of another study.

3. In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections.

4. In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.

5. It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood. Cinnamaldehyde (also called cinnamic aldehyde) in cinnamon prevents unwanted blood platelets clumping. Cinnamon lowers arachidonic acid release from cell membranes so also has anti-inflammation or anti-inflammatory effects which decreases body inflammation.

6. 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.

7. When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative. Because of this, bread may soon come wrapped in waxed paper that is made with cinnamon oil. In fact, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry recently reported that bread packaged in a cinnamon-based wrapper, stayed fresher for as long as 10 days. Not only that, but when the wrapper was tested on bread that was already beginning to mold, it inhibited mold growth by 96 percent.

8. One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.
Research by Dr. P. Zoladz, presented April 24, 2004, at the annual meeting of the
Association for Chemoreception Sciences in Sarasota, Fla., found chewing cinnamon-flavored gum or smelling cinnamon enhanced study participants' cognitive processing. Cinnamon improved participants' scores on tasks related to attentional processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory and visual-motor speed while working on a computer-based program. Participants were exposed to four odorant conditions: no odor, peppermint odor, jasmine, and cinnamon, with cinnamon emerging the clear winner in producing positive effects on brain function.

9. Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.

10. It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.
Cinnamon, ground
2.00 tsp
4.52 grams
11.84 calories
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
manganese0.76 mg38.057.8excellent
dietary fiber2.48 g9.915.1very good
iron1.72 mg9.614.5very good
calcium55.68 mg5.68.5very good

11. Relief from congestion - Cinnamon and other spices have long been consumed to relieve congestion that comes from colds, allergies, and other common conditions.

Improved digestion - Cinnamon and other related spices have long been used as a digestive aid, and those who suffer from stomach cramps, IBS, and other common stomach disorders often find that adding cinnamon to their favorite dish aids digestion.

Relief from menstrual cramping and other feminine discomfort - Cinnamon has long been used to treat the discomfort that accompanies menstruation, and many women report that a daily amount of cinnamon greatly reduces cramping, pain, and other common menstrual complaints.

Fights tooth decay: "Cinnamon is an antiseptic that helps kill the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease" - Daniel B. Mowrey, PhD, author of The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine.

15. Clears up urinary-tract infections: One German study showed that cinnamon "suppresses completely" the cause of most urinary-tract infections (Escherichia coli bacteria).

16. Antioxidant capacity: Cinnamon is so powerful an antioxidant that when compared to six other antioxidant spices (anise, ginger, licorice, mint, nutmeg and vanilla) and the chemical food preservatives BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), and propyl gallate, it prevented oxidation more effectively than all the other spices (except mint) and the chemical antioxidants.

17. Miscellaneous: Cinnamon makes a nice nontoxic bug repellent when sprinkled in the kitchen cabinets (in large amounts it even keeps away fire ants as long as it is freshly applied around their mounds).

How to Select and Store

Cinnamon is available in either stick or powder form. While the sticks can be stored for longer, the ground powder has a stronger flavor. If possible, smell the cinnamon to make sure that it has a sweet smell, a characteristic reflecting that it is fresh.

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. Alternatively, you can extend their shelf life by storing them in the refrigerator. To check to see if it is still fresh, smell the cinnamon. If it does not smell sweet, it is no longer fresh and should be discarded.

How do you like to eat cinnamon? What are your favorite recipes?


Rachel said...

I love cinnamon especially in cooked apples with sultanas and in fruit cakes. Unfortunately my husband hates it so I do not use it very often.

Kelly said...

I love the smell so much! I like cinnamon on toast, in apple cider, in tea, apple sauce, apple pie....mmmm! That is a big part of why I like the fall so much!


Leo (Healthy Tips For A Healthy Lifestyle) said...

I wrote a bpost about it too... The most "shocking" thing is that it even benefits if you're just SMELLING it! Hehe
Great post! :)

Paulineh said...

I love cinnamon too and your picture of the apple cider really makes me want to make some. Do you have a recipe? I use cinnamon with sugar for a coating for butter cakes and I love it on my toast. Thanks for the article.

liza said...

great article! i love cinnamon and i've written an article about it in the past. my dad is diabetic and im always telling him to have at least a teaspoon of cinnamon every day.