Cinnamon: A Spice With Surprising Health Benefits
You may not have known it at the time, but the cinnamon your mother sprinkled on your breakfast toast or in your cocoa or mixed in your oatmeal may have helped make you strong and healthy. Cinnamon, known for its flavor and perceived healing, has been popular for thousands of years. Cinnamon is found in the bark of cinnamon trees and comes in two forms:
- Ceylon cinnamon can be found in health food stores and is the purest form of cinnamon.
- Cassia cinnamon is the most common variety and is available at grocery stores.
What’s So Great About Cinnamon?
Research suggests cinnamon may help our bodies in several ways. According to the National Institutes of Health, many studies have explored cinnamon’s beneficial effects for Parkinson’s, diabetes, blood and the brain. Cinnamon is high in antioxidants, which neutralize harmful free radicals in our bodies.
Studies Show Promise
Although research exists regarding the potential benefits of cinnamon, WebMD says more work needs to be done. However, according to Healthline, studies show promise in helping certain conditions, including:
- Heart disease – Cinnamon may improve some key risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
- High cholesterol – Cinnamon has been shown to significantly increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which may improve blood sugar control.
- Cancer treatment and prevention – Animal and test-tube studies indicate that cinnamon may have protective effects against cancer.
- Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s – Cinnamon has been shown to lead to various improvements for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in animal studies.
- Viruses – Although there is limited research in humans, some test-tube studies suggest that cinnamon may help protect against certain viruses.
- Bacterial and fungal infections – Cinnamaldehyde, an active component of cinnamon, has antifungal and antibacterial properties that may reduce infections, tooth decay, and bad breath.
Ways To Add Cinnamon to a Healthy Diet
Cinnamon is a multipurpose spice linked to plenty of health benefits, so it could be part of a nutritious diet. Here are suggestions for adding it to your diet morning, noon and night.
- Cook up some quinoa and add blueberries, orange slices, chopped almonds, yogurt and cinnamon.
- Add sliced peaches, honey and low-fat milk to your oatmeal. Top it off with a shake of cinnamon.
- Bake a batch of breakfast oatmeal cookies with apples, unsweetened applesauce, and cinnamon.
- Roasted sweet potato soup is a gluten-free, vegan soup that’s a great source of fiber and sure to keep you satisfied throughout the afternoon.
- Vegetarian chili is filled with healthy fruits, veggies, cinnamon and other spices, black beans, and pinto beans.
- Maple cinnamon vinaigrette with maple syrup, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and cinnamon will dress up a salad.
- Spiced chicken and rice with apples and raisins spiced with cumin and cinnamon is an easy one-pan recipe.
- Salmon fillets with cinnamon and chili powder is a simple recipe that cooks in minutes in one pan for easy cleanup.
- A veggie spaghetti bowl is chock full of vegetables and spices, including cinnamon, for a hearty vegetarian meal.
Drinks and Snacks
- Healthy hot chocolate is made with no artificial ingredients and contains cocoa powder, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla extract, molasses and milk.
- Apple cinnamon chips are baked with just two ingredients—sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon.
- Cinnamon tea is tasty and sweet when you add a cinnamon stick and some honey to your mug.
For a host of holiday recipes, including hors d’oeuvres, entrees, sides and desserts, many of which contain cinnamon, check out BBC Good Food and Martha Stewart. There is an abundance of recipes containing cinnamon on the internet.
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