Cinnamon is a spice derived from an evergreen tropical tree species. It is used mainly as a condiment in a variety of dishes. With its therapeutic and antioxidants Cinnamon can help you lose weight along with other health benefits.
Cinnamon as a spice exists for over 5000 years. In addition to being a kitchen staple, it is also known for its high medicinal properties. Cinnamon is ranked number one as far as the concentration of antioxidents is concerned amongst all herbs and spices. It is ranked number seven amongst all food available in terms of concentration of antioxidants and health benefits. Cinnamon comes out of the bark or stem of a tropical evergreen Cinnamon tree. The inner bark is collected and the woody parts are removed. The remaining matter is then dried and curled into Cinnamon rolls. It is known to contain forty one health and other beneficial compounds also known as protective health compounds.
Cinnamon is known to contain Cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for metabolism and other major health benefits of Cinnamon. It is also heavily loaded with antioxidants like polyphenols. Its powerful enough to be used and utilised as a natural food preservative. Cinnamon has been used for centuries in a number of ways in food and recipes.
Composition of Cinnamon – Nutrition
Cinnamon contains carbohydrates, sugar, dietary fiber, fats and protein. It is known to contain a number of vitamins such as vitamin ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘E’ and ‘K’. It also contains a number of minerals such as iron (7.0 mg/g), zinc (2.6 mg/g), calcium (83.8 mg/g), chromium (0.4 mg/g), manganese (20.1 mg/g), magnesium (85.5 mg/g), sodium (0.0 mg/g), potassium (134.7 mg/g) and phosphorus (42.4 mg/g).
Cinnamon consists of 11 % water, 81 % carbohydates including 53 % dietary fiber, 4 % protein and 1 % fat.
Ways to use
Cinnamon can be used in a number of ways. While it is usually associated with sweet things like Cinnamon rolls and pies, Cinnamon actually is quite a versatile spice. Some of the other ways to use it are given below :-
- With the morning tea / coffee. Change the taste of your morning tea / coffee by adding a pinch of Cinnamon.
- With shakes / smoothies. Shake a bit of Cinnamon in your shakes / smoothies to add some extra spice.
- Roasted with raw nuts. Combine Cinnamon with honey and raw nuts for a crunchy delight.
- Used in making pancakes. Add a teaspoon of Cinnamon in the pancake batter.
- With peanut butter. Combine teaspoon of Cinnamon with peanut butter to enjoy the Cinnamon sticks.
- With oats or cereals. Mix teaspoon of Cinnamon with morning hot or cold cereals or oats.
- In various curry recipes. Add a bit of Cinnamon to your curry recipes to enjoy health benefits.
- In different kind of meats. Try a different kind of meat flavouring, combine some Cinnamon with your favourite meat.
- In pudding and other desserts. Stir some Cinnamon with your pudding and other desserts.
Ayurvedic use of Cinnamon
- Helps in Digestion. Cinnamon is excellent in revving up digestion. Because of its warm properties it is known to boost the digestive system. Cinnamon detoxes the digestive tract improving absorption and supporting healthy blood sugar.
- Helps clear Respiratory passages. Cinnamon’s warming properties help clear out the airways. It can be combined with ginger and pepper to make herbal tea. It is also an important ingredient to help build up allergen resistance.
- Helps in Healthy Circulation and Joints. Cinnamon helps prevent the digestive impurities from accumulating at the joints thus improving the overall health circulation and joints.
Apart from this, Cinnamon is a important ingredient in many more traditional Ayurvedic preparations of all kinds.
Health benefits of Cinnamon
- Helps in treatment of type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon can be an important tool in managing symptoms of type 2 diabetes. It reduces blood pressure and thus have a positive effect on blood markers for type 3 diabetes. Cinnamon can also reduce insulin resistance.
- Management of Metabolic diseases. Cinnamon is effective in reducing morbidity and mortality in metabolic syndrome including reducing blood pressure, plasma glucose, obesity and dyslipidemia. Cinnamon is also used as a appetite suppressant to those with sugar addition.
- Controlling bad cholesterol. Improving serum glucose, lowering fasting blood glucose and total cholesterol are reasons Cinnamon is effective for those suffering from hereditary cholesterol worries.
- Antimicrobial properties. Cinnamon is known to fight fungal, bacterial and viral elements in food. It is also used extensively for treatment of anything from lung problems to common cold.
- Help in managing HIV. Since Cinnamon’s antimicrobial properties extend to viruses, it may help fight or manage HIV.
- Weight loss. Cinnamon is known to control the hormones controlling hunger. Its antioxidants are known to detoxify and remove the bad effect of fatty food. It prevents fat storage by high sugar, increases carbohydrate metabolism and improves food processing.
- TB / Asthama. Cinnamon is known to clear out the airways and assist in controlling TB / Asthama.
- Simple allergies. Cinnamon has properties which aid in cure of common cold and cough and simple allergies.
- Candidiasis. Cinnamon’s anti microbial properties extend to fungi, thus rendering it a promising treatment for Candidiasis.
- Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. An enormous part of treating these diseases is symptom management. The symptoms of these two diseases can be managed and controlled with addition of Cinnamon to a regular regime. Cinnamon has shown to help neurons and improve motor function.
- Anti Carcinogenic properties. Cinnamon extract slows the growth of cancer cells and induces cancerous cell death. Research has shown Cinnamon’s positive effect in treating lung and stomach cancer.
- Anti Inflammatory Properties. Cinnamon use reduces both systemic and specific inflammation.
- PCOD / PCOS. Due to its properties Cinnamon assists in reduced insulin resistance in women with PCOD and PCOS. It can also mitigate heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Antioxidant benefits. Cinnamon helps the antioxidant status of overweight or obese individuals. It helps protect the body from damage from free radicals.
Apart from the health benefits listed above Cinnamon is known to assist in prevention of depression, protect teeth and gums, skin health, hair growth and muscle soreness.
Types of Cinnamon
There are mainly three types of Cinnamon that are commonly used.
- Ceylon Cinnamon.
- Also called true Cinnamon.
- Sri Lanka is the biggest producer of this kind of Cinnamon. Around 90 % of all Ceylon Cinnamon is supplied by Sri Lanka.
- Made of thin, fragile layers rolled into a quill like shape.
- Comes with a mild, subtle sweet taste with fragrant smell.
- Light brown in colour, crumbles and easily breaks into tiny pieces.
- Contains very less quantity of coumarin around 0.04 %
- Cassia Cinnamon.
- Indonesia is the chief supplier of this type.
- Much cheaper than Ceylon Cinnamon. Consists of a hard bark that is spicy and smells pretty strong.
- Contains higher amount of coumarin compared to Ceylon Cinnamon around 4 %.
- Saigon Cinnamon.
- Also known as Indonesian Cassia Cinnamon.
- Extra spicy yet sweeter in taste.
- Contains high level of coumarin around 8 %.
The level of coumarin is Cinnamon is important as when taken in large amount, coumarin can potentially cause liver damage.
According to the European Food Safety Authority, 2.5 gms (1/2 tea spoon) Cinnamon for a person with weight of 75 kgs is considered ideal. However, the quantity of use will depend upon on the weather, suitability of the person and the body type. It is however, recommended to start with small portions.
In western countries because of the cold weather, 1/4 tea spoon is the recommended quantity of use. It is also recommended to stick with one method of use of best results.
Between major meals is the ideal time to use as Cinnamon aids in better digestion of food. It can be taken with honey or jaggery. It can also be taken as a bed time drink with milk / water / shakes or smoothies.
To start with, Cinnamon should not taken in big quantity. The following should consult a physician before using Cinnamon.
People on blood thinning medication
People with high bold pressure
People with high acidity
People with excessive heartburn issues
People with liver issues
Breast feeding mothers
Prior to use on skin it is recommended to do a patch test first
Cinnamon is full of nutrients and antioxidants and thus provides multiple health benefits. However, no single food or ingredient can help achieve or maintain our fitness goals. It is thus recommended to maintain a balanced and healthy diet, stay active and indulge yourself with as much physical activity as possible.