Wednesday, August 5, 2009

August 5, 2009: Cinnamon, More Than Just a Spice

Did you know that cinnamon comes from the dried inner bark of a tropical tree? The highest grade of cinnamon comes from the bark of the cinnamomum zeylanicum tree from Sri Lanka.

In ancient Egypt, cinnamon was used as part of the embalming process for mummies. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine prescribe cinnamon for illnesses from flu to diarrhea.

Cinnamon is also an excellent air freshener. Tie a few sticks in a mesh bag and hang them in your closet. The scent works like mothballs to keep bugs away, and it smells a lot better!

Cinnamon contains two beneficial compounds, eugenol, which relieves pain, and cinnamaldehyde, a mild sedative. It has anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning properties. The spice is a good source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.

Cinnamon may lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol. A 2003 study in Diabetes Care reports on sixty people with type 2 diabetes who took one quarter to one teaspoon of cinnamon daily. After 40 days, they reported reduced fasting blood glucose of 18 to 29%, triglycerides lowered by 23 to 30%, LDL cholesterol by 7 to 27%, and total cholesterol by 12 to 26%.

Another study at Copenhagen University showed benefits from eating half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder plus one tablespoon of honey every morning. The patients had less arthritis pain after only one week.

A couple of cautions: (1) The less expensive cassia cinnamon commonly found in grocery stores contains a compound called coumarin, which at high levels can damage the liver. (2) Because of its blood-thinning effect, high doses of cinnamon should not be consumed with anti-clotting medication. Neither of these warnings applies to everyday use of cinnamon in recipes.

Cinnamon has been a favorite cooking spice for about 5000 years. Next time you make French toast, sprinkle on some extra cinnamon. Order chai tea made with cinnamon instead of coffee. Double the cinnamon in your favorite banana bread recipe. You can even add cinnamon to spaghetti sauce for a rich, exotic boost. Sprinkle it, spoon it, stir it in – add extra cinnamon to your healthy life.

1 comment:

  1. I use 1 tsp of cinnamon a day to control my erratic blood sugar levels and wow does it work well - I just found a vitamin supplement that contains cinnamon in it too and also controls glucose better - I surely do not want diabetes of any number

    Cinnamon is yummy on steamed broccoli too

    Came over from Deliberately Receiving Blog
    Nice words found here too