Some of the most impressive health benefits of cinnamon include its ability to help manage diabetes, protect against fungal and bacterial infections, increase brain function, prevent certain cognitive disorders, improve digestion, boost the strength of the immune system.
If you haven’t heard of cinnamon or tasted its delicious flavor in some type of food or flavoring, then you’ve been in a very remote part of the world, given that cinnamon is one of the most popular and recognized spices in the world. With the scientific name of Cinnamomum verum, this famous spice is derived from the bark of a number of trees that fall within the Cinnamomum genus. One of the most unique elements of cinnamon is that it helps with flavoring both sweet and savory dishes, which makes it extremely versatile, as it has been for thousands of years. The cinnamon tree is native to a number of places, depending on the cultivar being discussed, including Sri Lanka, India, China, and even parts of Africa. “True cinnamon” is the species found in Sri Lanka.
It has been mentioned in classical literature and writings for thousands of years, dating back to the times of ancient Egypt, and is now widely used and known on every continent. It has been used as a food preservative in the past, but is primarily associated as a spice for foods, including chocolate, desserts, breads, cakes, beverages, candies, donuts, cereals, fruits, and even meat and poultry dishes. The appeal of the flavor makes it desirable in almost every cultural cuisine in some way, but more importantly, this fine brownish-gold spice has certain health properties that make it very beneficial for human health. While the spice would be used regardless of these benefits, it is still important to understand the extra boost that cinnamon can give to your body, particularly if you suffer from certain conditions. Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of cinnamon.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Diabetic Control: One of the most well known benefits of cinnamon is its control over blood sugar levels in the body. When cinnamon is added to your food, it can chemically slow the process of emptying your stomach, which is what happens when you consume simple sugars from basic carbohydrates. Cinnamon counters this effect, which reduces the major influx of glucose into the bloodstream, which can overwhelm the insulin receptors of the body and cause imbalanced glucose levels, which is what causes diabetic spikes and drops. By helping to regulate the insulin and glucose balance in the body, cinnamon can be both a preventative measure and an effective treatment for diabetes.
Cancer Prevention: Research into cinnamon’s effects on cancer have been ongoing for many years, and the conclusion is that two substances, cinnamaldehyde and eugenol can both actively prevent cancer cells from spreading and represents a very exciting development for cancer research for colon cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia. More specifically, certain substances in cinnamon have been found to prevent tumor growth. These antioxidant constituents also help with a variety of other health effects, including the health and appearance of the skin, as well as the ability of the body to heal and repair itself.
Increase Mental Strength: People have always looked for ways to boost their focus and concentration skills. Potassium, certain super foods, and various remedies have been shown to boost mental ability, and cinnamon is counted among those options. There is a chemical connection between the brain and the scent/taste of cinnamon, so when research subjects have chewed cinnamon-flavored gum or simply smelled cinnamon, there cognitive activity increased. If you need a brain boost, eat a cinnamon-heavy breakfast and see how quick your mind works!
Bone Health: The high levels of magnesium found in cinnamon sticks represents a significant boost to your bone health, as magnesium is one of the major players, along with calcium, in preventing osteoporosis and boosting bone health into your old age. Consuming a cinnamon stick may not sound particularly appetizing, but the magnesium addition to your diet that it proves is impressive.
Cognitive Disorders: Following from the previous point, researchers are excited by what cinnamon could represent for studies on certain cognitive disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. There is no known cure for these debilitating diseases, but cinnamon’s ability to stimulate new neural pathways and increase cognitive ability makes it very exciting for keeping people lucid and aware for longer as they age.
Antioxidant Effects: Cinnamon contains various essential oils and organic compounds that can actively seek out and neutralize free radicals, the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause healthy cells to spontaneously die or mutate into cancerous cells. These antioxidants in cinnamon are praised for their ability to improve heart health and also prevent certain chronic diseases that are exacerbated by the activity of free radicals.
Digestive Health: Ground cinnamon contains a certain amount of dietary fiber, which does a number of things for the digestive system. Firstly, fiber can stimulate peristaltic motion and boost the bulk of your stool, helping your digestion and preventing constipation, bloating, and even more serious conditions like gastric ulcers and colon cancer. Furthermore, fiber can help to bind with bile salts and eliminate them from the body before they can have a negative effect on your health. Fiber also helps to maintain heart health by regulating cholesterol levels in the cardiovascular system.
Fungal and Bacterial Infections: The natural antibacterial quality of cinnamon when applied to your food is well researched and widely proven. Granted, the essential oil of cinnamon is more widely respected due to its potency, but simply adding cinnamon to your diet can also prevent certain fungal and bacterial infections from taking hold of your system. This is precisely why cinnamon was used as a food preservative for so many centuries; it is able to prevent the cultivation of dangerous pathogens.
Immune System: Cinnamon has a naturally warming quality, which has made it valuable for the treatment of the common cold and various forms of the flu for generations. This warming ability can help fevers “break” and also prevent the onset of chills or pneumonia in cases of bronchitis, due to its stimulating effect on the respiratory system.
A Final Word of Warning: Despite all of cinnamon’s health benefits, there are also some risks with the use of cinnamon, particularly in large quantities. The coumarin found in cinnamon can be potentially allergenic, particularly in the Cassia variety of cinnamon; high levels of Cassia-derived cinnamon should be avoided, as it can have a toxic effect on the body. Other than that, in regulated amounts, cinnamon is not commonly considered as an allergenic substance.
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