Cinnamon, a popular culinary spice is obtained from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree. A compound called cinnamaldehyde present in the essential oil of the cinnamon gives it a unique flavor and aroma. It is mainly cultivated in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Vietnam and Egypt. It offers various health benefits by virtue of its active oil components like cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol. It is available as cinnamon sticks or quills and as cinnamon powder. It is rich in manganese, calcium and dietary fiber.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
- Controls blood cholesterol levels: Daily consumption of half teaspoon of cinnamon is beneficial in lowering LDL or bad cholesterol thereby reducing risks of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and stroke.
- Controls blood sugar: Cinnamon is very beneficial for type2 diabetes patients as it helps to enhances insulin synthesis in the body which in turn prevents rise in blood sugar levels. It also retards the enzyme that inactivates insulin receptors thus enhancing cellular usage of glucose. A study revealed that even 1 gram taken daily can bring about 20% reductions in blood sugar.
- Enhances brain functioning: It is said that smelling cinnamon gives a boost to our brain activity. A study found that subjects who chewed cinnamon flavored gum had better working memory, virtual recognition memory and attention span than others.
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- Anti-clotting benefits: Cinnamaldehyde present in cinnamon inhibits unnecessary platelet clumping, thereby improving blood circulation throughout the body and preventing cardiovascular diseases.
- Anti-microbial benefits: Cinnamon essential oils safeguard our body from bacterial and fungal infections. It is found to be effective in inhibiting the growth of yeast Candida that causes digestive problems, chronic fatigue, depression, vaginal infections and urinary tract infections. Cinnamon is also beneficial against H. pylori bacteria causing peptic ulcers.
- Beneficial for our colon: Cinnamaldehyde present in cinnamon enhances antioxidant enzyme levels in the colon cells thereby reducing chances of colon cancer. Moreover calcium and fiber present in it adhere to the bile salts and excrete them from the body which further enhances colon health.
- Promotes oral health: Its antibacterial properties makes cinnamon oil beneficial against mouth infection causing bacteria Streptococcus mutans thereby enhancing oral hygiene and treating infections of gum and teeth.
- Cinnamon when mixed in tea along with fresh ginger relieves cold, sore throat or flu by virtue of its warming properties.
- Its anti-inflammatory property helps to lower arthritic pain causing cytokines. Taking half teaspoon of cinnamon powder with one tablespoon of honey before breakfast daily brings substantial pain relief within a week.
- Cinnamon’s anti-inflammatory properties help lower recurring inflammation of brain tissues which in turn reduces occurrence of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, brain tumors, and Parkinson’s disease.
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Caution: Although cinnamon is safe in moderate amounts, but in very high amounts it may cause toxicity in people suffering from liver problems. Cinnamon may also inhibit proper effects of some antibiotics, diabetes drugs, blood thinners and heart medicines. In such situations you should consult a physician before using cinnamon supplements.
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