There are two types of cinnamon. The first is called Ceylon cinnamon (true cinnamon), and the second is called Cassia cinnamon, which is also known as Saigon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is named after its origins and is the type of cinnamon of interest for its health benefits. It is important to understand that cassia cinnamon is the version of cinnamon most commonly found in grocery stores. Ceylon cinnamon is more difficult to find and for that reason tends to be more expensive. Nutritionally cinnamon contains significant levels of manganese, iron, dietary fiber and calcium2
Traditional Health Benefits of Cinnamon
The use of cinnamon dates back to 2800 BC and originates from Ceylon, Sri Lanka. Although cinnamon is most commonly known for its flavor, it was originally used for its medicinal purposes, such as treatment of various ailments, embalming and anointing.1 Since its discovery, much research has been conducted to uncover the various health benefits that cinnamon offers. Let's take a closer look at cinnamon and how it can elevate your health.
What is Cinnamon Used For?
Cinnamon may have numerous benefits to the body, including the following: Regulates Blood Sugar Levels Reduces Levels of LDL Cholesterol Reduces Insulin Resistance
Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is one of the oldest and most common spices in the world. Its benefits stretch far beyond adding a wonderful flavor to food and beverages. Regulating Blood Glucose Levels Studies show that cinnamon offers benefits to individuals with diabetes. Diabetes is a condition3 that occurs when your blood glucose levels are high. In fact, diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Insulin, which is made in the pancreas, helps the body utilize glucose. When your body doesn't produce enough insulin or use insulin efficiently, the glucose isn't able to leave the bloodstream, which results in high blood glucose levels. Research shows that cinnamon can actually behave much like insulin and help transport glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells. This helps to regulate blood glucose levels in both diabetic and pre-diabetic individuals. In pre-diabetic individuals, it can prevent full-blown diabetes for up to a number of years. Reduce Levels of LDL Cholesterol High cholesterol4 means that your body could build fatty deposits in your blood vessels. This, in turn, restricts blood flow, which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases. Research suggests that cinnamon reduces the levels of LDL cholesterol. One study showed that the consumption of 1, 3, 0r 6 grams of cinnamon per day reduced total cholesterol levels in individuals who had type 2 diabetes. Reduce Insulin Resistance Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)5 is a hormonal disorder affecting women that can not only cause fertility issues but can lead to complications such as Type 2 diabetes. Studies show that cinnamon can help reduce insulin resistance in women who have been diagnosed with PCOS. Additional studies have shown that cinnamon is beneficial as an antioxidant and an antimicrobial.6
How to Use Cinnamon
Cinnamon is most commonly either used as a flavoring in food or as an over the counter dietary supplement. Although research strongly backs the health benefits of consuming cinnamon, it is still a medically unproven treatment7. For this reason, it is not FDA regulated and there is not an established dose. As mentioned above, studies have used 1, 3, and 6-gram doses in trials without negative side effects. It is important to note that cinnamon naturally contains a compound called coumarin. Coumarin has been linked to liver damage when consumed in high dosages8. It is important to speak with your medical professional when it comes to changing your dietary regimen. Your doctor can advise a recommended daily dosage based on your age, health and any current health conditions, as well as whether or not cinnamon will interfere with current medications you are taking.
Foods that Contain Cinnamon
Cinnamon is one of the most common spices used in food dishes in the world. In some cases, the flavor of cinnamon is bold and in others it is subtle, and you may not even realize cinnamon is an ingredient in the dish. It can be found in popular beverages such as herbal teas, smoothies and flavored coffees. Many kinds of breakfast cereal and breakfast bars contain cinnamon for added flavor. Desserts such as pies, snickerdoodle cookies and cakes call for cinnamon as an ingredient. Cinnamon toast is a fun take on butter toast that calls for a mixture of sugar and cinnamon as a topping on the butter. Many people also enjoy cinnamon and butter as a topping to sweet potatoes. What most people do not realize is that even certain flavors of ice creams, candy and chewing gum contain cinnamon. There are literally thousands of uses for the very versatile spice that is cinnamon.
Is Cinnamon Healthy?
Cinnamon is one of the oldest and most common spices in the world. Its benefits stretch far beyond adding a wonderful flavor to food and beverages. There is strong evidence that individuals who suffer from type 2 diabetes can benefit the most from the consumption of cinnamon. It is a powerful anti-diabetic that can help naturally control the levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Other benefits include decreasing the levels of cholesterol which will help prevent life-threatening cardiovascular issues such as heart attack and stroke. Traditional methods have without a doubt increased life expectancy with the ability to treat and manage serious medical conditions. However, the medicinal properties of natural spices should not be discounted. Cinnamon is an age-old spice that is not only a powerful spice but offers a variety of medicinal benefits as well.
Citations and Sources
1. Kawatra P, Rajagopalan R. Cinnamon: Mystic powers of a minute ingredient. Pharmacognosy Res. 2015;7(Suppl 1):S1-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26109781. 2. Hariri M, Ghiasvand R. Cinnamon and Chronic Diseases. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;929:1-24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27771918. 3. What is Diabetes? | NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes. Accessed April 25, 2019. 4. High cholesterol - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/symptoms-causes/syc-20350800. Accessed April 25, 2019. 5. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439. Accessed April 25, 2019. 6. Jessica E, Gassara F, Kouassi A, Brar S, Belkacemi K. Spice use in food: Properties and benefits. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017;57(6):1078-1088. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26560460. 7. Cinnamon. NCCIH. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/cinnamon. Published November 17, 2011. Accessed April 25, 2019. 8. Cinnamon: The Good, the Bad, and the Tasty. Gastrointestinal Society. https://www.badgut.org/information-centre/health-nutrition/cinnamon/. Accessed April 25, 2019.
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