Spice Rack Spotlight: 7 Benefits of Cinnamon
By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Cinnamon is a well-loved spice all around the world, and has been used medicinally since ancient times for coughs, arthritis, sore throats, infections and biblical practices due to its potent healing properties. The distinct smell and flavour of cinnamon is due to the oily part, which is very high in a compound called cinnamaldehyde, it is this compound that is responsible for most of cinnamon’s powerful effects on health and metabolism. It’s delicious in many favorite dishes such as moussaka, tagines, curries, smoothies, juices and delicious desserts. Cinnamon is also high in antioxidants. In one study cinnamon came out as the clear winner out of 26 spices for its antioxidant content.
To get the most out of cinnamon it may be best to use Ceylon cinnamon also known as true cinnamon and referred to as cinnamon verum/zeylanicum rather than cinnamon cassia. Cassia has shown to be effective but overall it has been suggested to use the true cinnamon medicinally as it contains less coumarins which can cause side-effects when taken in larger therapeutic doses.
Cinnamon can be useful for:
- Insulin resistance: A recent published medical study this year identified that the active compound found in cinnamon called cinnamaldhyde contributes to improving insulin sensitivity which in turn helps to reduce the appetite and belly fat.
- Hunger: Cinnamon extract may to be effective in the reduction of food intake via the slowing down of gastric emptying within the stomach and ghrelin secretions (hungry hormone).
- Reducing blood sugars: Many studies demonstrate that cinnamon may help reduce blood sugar levels, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes and suggest that the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
- Reducing negative effects of high fat meals: According to Penn State researchers, eating a diet rich in spices such as turmeric and cinnamon reduces the negative effects. After eating a high fat meal, serum triglycerides levels naturally elevate, this effect was reduced by 30% with the addition of spices in the meal versus no spices as well as having a 13% increase in blood antioxidant activity and a 20% reduction in insulin levels.
- Chronic wounds and infections: Biofilms has been something on my radar a lot lately where resistance infections persist. Bacteria, or other microbes develop a protective layer over themselves to protect themselves from destruction and this can make some infections very difficult to treat. It has been found that some particular spices and herbs including cinnamon help to break these biofilms down and act as an antiseptic as well as stimulating healing.
- Fungal infections: cinnamon can help fight fungal and bacterial infections. Scientists found that cinnamon at 1 TB a day may help to inhibit colds, flu’s and other infections.
- Neurological diseases: Cinnamon has been shown to reduce the plague formations in the brain that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The negative effects of a high fat and high fructose diet on behavior, brain insulin signaling and Alzheimer-associated changes were alleviated by cinnamon. Cinnamon has also been shown to reduce the severity of Parkinson’s disease in animal studies by improving motor function and normalising neurotransmitter levels.
Cinnamon oil is also a fabulous topical antiseptic and can be used to help treat acne and skin and other infections.
The take home message is we should all enjoy the benefits of cinnamon and maybe consider adding it to more meals and beverages to enjoy all these wonderful properties.
Sometimes a little bit for prevention can go a long way!
Here are some great Cinnamon Reboot Meals:
Harvest Cinnamon Spice Juice
Cinnamon Vanilla Almond Milk
Cherry Cinnamon Apple Bake
Raw Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon Vanilla Chia Cereal