When you are consuming cinnamon rolls, ever wondered what makes these rolls sweet with warming tastes? That’s right – Cinnamon! A powerful spice obtained from the inner bark of several tree species from the genus Cinnamomum, cinnamon has been used medicinally and as an aromatic condiment around the world for thousands of years, mainly because of its widespread benefits and its distinctly sweet and warming taste.
So what makes cinnamon good for you? Let’s take a closer look at what this potent spice has to offer!
Table of Content
- What is Cinnamon
- Different Types of Cinnamon
- How to Know if You Have Chosen Ceylon Cinnamon at Your Local Market
- How Do Cinnamon Taste Like in Recipe
- Favorite Cinnamon Recipes
- Top 11 Health benefits of Cinnamon
What is Cinnamon
Before we dive right into the health benefits of cinnamon, let’s discuss more about the background information of cinnamon – where it originated and where it’s from!
So what is cinnamon and where does it come from? Did you know that cinnamon is actually from a type of tree known as the Cinnamomum Verum tree? Derived from its bark, cinnamon farmers first shave the outer bark off the trees, then shave off the inner bark before being dried which naturally curls up into “quills”. These can then be grounded into powder or made into an extract. Due to its fragrant aroma and warm sweet flavor that could spice up a variety of foods, cinnamon eventually became so popular that it is also cultivated in South America and West Indies.
Researchers have concluded that cinnamon health benefits can be obtained in the form of its pure bark, essential oils, or in-ground spice form. Its phenolic compounds make cinnamon one of the most beneficial spices on earth, giving it antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and potential cancer and heart-related disease-protecting abilities.
Different Types of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is such a popular spice that it is cheap and widely available in most supermarkets. At least, one type is. Did you know that there are actually two main types of this spice? Yes, you heard that right! They are Cassia Cinnamon and Ceylon Cinnamon.
Cassia Cinnamon – Originated in Southern China, these cinnamon are also known as Chinese cinnamon. They are now widely grown across Eastern and Southern Asia. Cassia tends to be a dark brown-red color with thicker yet shorter sticks, but a rougher texture than Ceylon cinnamon! Cassia cinnamon is considered lower quality. It’s very cheap and is the type commonly consumed around the world. Almost all the cinnamon found in commercial supermarkets is the cassia variety.
Ceylon Cinnamon – Native to Sri Lanka and southern parts of India, Ceylon Cinnamon is tan-brown in color and tight, long sticks with softer layers. The use of Ceylon Cinnamon is less common and has been sought after as a cooking spice especially when it comes to dessert making. Its delicate and mildly sweet flavor are the reasons why people use it for making desserts. Approximately 50-63% of its essential oil is cinnamaldehyde, which is quite low compared to its cousin, the Cassia variety. This explains its milder aroma and flavor.
How to Know if You Have Chosen Ceylon Cinnamon at Your Local Market
The claim is clear: Ceylon Cinnamon is far more superior to Cassia Cinnamon. Both Ceylon and Cassia contain different essential oil ratios. With that being said, they do likely have different health properties but it’s still unclear if one is superior to the other in this regard.
However, one thing we are certain of is the danger Cassia Cinnamon brings if consumed regularly. Unlike Ceylon, Cassia cinnamon is a very rich source of coumarin – a compound found naturally in several plants species which can be harmful in large doses. Hence, here are some guidelines to follow when choosing Ceylon Cinnamon over Cassia Cinnamon:
Origin – Ceylon Cinnamon comes from a plant that is indigenous to Sri Lanka, hence it cannot originate from elsewhere in the world.
Color – Ceylon Cinnamon is tan brown whereas Cassia Cinnamon takes some reddish dark brown.
Texture – Ceylon Cinnamon is thin and papery and forms multiple layers when rolled up. Ceylon Cinnamon is also more fragile and could break apart more easily than its cousin Cassia.
How Do Cinnamon Taste Like in Recipe
In terms of taste, Ceylon Cinnamon is delicate, sweet with notes of clove, and it makes an excellent flavor profile for pastries and desserts. Cassia Cinnamon, on the other hand, is pungent and hotter which makes it more suited for braised Chinese meat recipes.
Favorite Cinnamon Recipes
There are plenty of delicious recipes that could incorporate cinnamon in, which could add serious nutritional and taste depth to the dishes. Here are a few simple cinnamon recipes to get you started:
- Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
- Chinese Braised Pork belly in Soy Sauce
- Cinnamon Crumble Banana Bread
- Masala Chai
Top 11 Health benefits of Cinnamon
In terms of protective antioxidant levels, cinnamon is ranked as one of the top superfoods along with goji berries, dark chocolate, etc. It also boasts a wide range of other health benefits such as antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-diabetic properties. Cinnamon supplies a wide variety of minerals and vitamins which could get you excited! Read on to find out what nutritional benefits they offer!
- High in Antioxidants
- Protects Heart Health
- Stabilizes Blood Sugar
- Preserve Brain Function
- Relieves Inflammation
- Fights Infection and Viruses
- May Help Lower Cancer Risks
- Optimizes Oral Hygiene
- Prevents Candida
- Sweetens Up Recipes Without Sugar
- Benefits Skin Health
1. High in Antioxidants
Cinnamon is packed full of protective antioxidants that reduce free radical damage and the slow aging process. According to the ORAC scale, which is a measurement of antioxidant concentration found in different foods, cinnamon is ranked number 7 of all foods, herbs, and spices.
In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of different varieties of spices, cinnamon was ranked top and proved to be higher in antioxidants than many other herbs and spices, including garlic and thyme.
So what contributes to the health benefits of cinnamon? The answer lies in its content of a few types of antioxidants, including polyphenols, phenolic acid, and flavonoids. These different antioxidants help to neutralize harmful free radicals in the body and prevent oxidative stress, which could result in chronic diseases. They also help limit nitric oxide build-up in the blood and prevent fat peroxidation.
2. Protects Heart Health
It is shown that one of the top cinnamon health benefits is its ability to improve heart health. Cinnamon has been shown to reduce several of the common risk factors for heart diseases such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and high triglyceride levels to keep your heart healthy and strong.
Cinnamon also plays as a blood coagulant and can help stop excess bleeding by forming blood clots. Cinnamon is also thought to increase the circulation of blood, which may be helpful for regenerating heart tissue to fight heart disease.
3. Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Cinnamon is known for its anti-diabetic effects, which is why it’s considered one of the best foods for diabetics. It can help lower blood sugar levels and improve sensitivity to insulin, the hormone which is responsible for transporting sugar from the bloodstream to the tissues to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.
Cinnamon can help block the activity of several digestive enzymes to slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream after a heavy carb meal.
4. Preserve Brain Function
The rich content of antioxidants found in cinnamon may help boost brain function and can help defend against the development of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
It is thought that cinnamon helps block the build-up of specific proteins in the brain to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also been shown to reduce risks of inflammation and cell damage due to the protection it offers against oxidative stress to neurons.
All these help preserve brain function and prevent cognitive decline.
5. Relieves Inflammation
The antioxidants in cinnamon can help relieve inflammation, which may help lower risks of heart diseases, cancer, and more. All these are a result of its many different types of flavonoids, which are highly effective at fighting dangerous inflammation levels throughout the body.
Cinnamon also helps manage pain such as reducing muscle soreness, decreasing menstrual pain, and helping relieve other age-related illnesses that bring about pain as well.
6. Fights Infection & Viruses
There are many potential benefits of cinnamon when it comes to defending the body from illness. Cinnamon contains antimicrobial, antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral properties, and its essential oils contain powerful immune-boosting compounds as well.
For this reason, cinnamon is used in many cultures to help fight harmful infections and viruses. Cinnamon can also protect against bacterial infections, which can cause conditions like common cold and pneumonia.
7. May Help Lower Cancer Risks
Because of its high antioxidant abilities, cinnamon may protect against DNA damage, cell mutation, and cancerous tumor growth. It is shown that a compound that cinnamon contains – cinnamaldehyde – can inhibit tumor growth and protect against damage while killing off cancer cells.
Cinnamon has been shown to improve the health of the colon, which could reduce the risk of colon cancer. A natural cancer-fighting food, cinnamon may be a useful supplement for those at risk of cancer.
8. Optimizes Oral Hygiene
Research has shown that cinnamon benefits oral hygiene and could protect against certain bacteria that cause bad breath, tooth decay, and mouth infections. Cinnamon has antibacterial properties and can be used naturally to combat bacteria in the mouth, acting as a natural mouth wash
Cinnamon has the ability to fight bad breath without adding any chemicals to the body, so because of this, cinnamon has been used as a natural remedy for toothaches, dental problems, and mouth sores.
9. Prevents Candida
The powerful antifungal properties in cinnamon could be effective in treating and preventing Candida overgrowth in your digestive tract. Candida is a fungal infection caused by a species of yeast known as candida Albicans, which can cause a host of digestive and autoimmune issues.
Cinnamon also helps control and lower blood sugar levels; a diet high in refined carbs can increase the amount of sugar in the digestive tract and may increase the risks of Candida.
10. Sweetens Up Recipes Without Sugar
Because of its naturally sweet taste, adding cinnamon to your recipes can help cut down the amount of sugar you normally add to your food, effectively lowering the glycemic load of your meal. Cinnamon already has anti-diabetic effects that slow sugar absorption and may help curb sugar cravings by stabilizing blood sugar.
Cinnamon contains no added sugar and minimal calories yet are high in many nutrients, making it an exciting and healthy addition to your many meals.
11. Benefits Skin Health
Due to its antibiotic and antimicrobial properties, cinnamon can help protect the skin from irritation, rashes, and allergic reactions. Combining cinnamon and honey – another antimicrobial ingredient – can greatly boost skin health even more and may be beneficial for acne and skin allergies.
How to Store Cinnamon
The ground cinnamon, as well as sticks, should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark, and dry place. Ground cinnamon can be kept for about six months, while cinnamon sticks may stay fresh for as long as one year!
Risks and Side Effects
Generally speaking, cinnamon is safe to be consumed in moderation. However, high amounts of cinnamon can cause adverse symptoms. This is due to the presence of a compound called coumarin, which has been shown to damage the liver in large amounts.
Do be careful when consuming cinnamon when you have issues with blood sugar levels and are already taking blood sugar-lowering medications already. Because of its anti-diabetic properties, cinnamon may contribute to low blood sugar levels.
Cinnamon can be unsafe if it’s taken higher than the recommended doses, especially if you’re pregnant, have diabetes, or have liver disease. To avoid complications, speak with your doctor for the recommended dose of cinnamon extracts!
Cinnamon is a spice derived from the bark of a cinnamon tree that is packed with antioxidants and nutrients such as manganese and fiber. These phenolic acids and polyphenols come with a long list of benefits, such as better blood sugar control, reduced inflammation, and enhanced heart health! No wonder it was as valuable as gold to Ancient Egyptians in periods thousands of years back!
We now know that there are many types of cinnamon but the two main types available in the market are Ceylon and Cassia. These two types of cinnamon both have different characteristics and properties which meet different needs when it comes to cooking. So it’s entirely up to you which you’d choose, but always take precautions when consuming large doses of Cassia!