Cinnamon is ubiquitous in any pantry, being a staple spice in baking. I use it in many of my mid-winter treats because its spicy taste warms from the inside. It is versatile and can be used in sweet and savory dishes with equal success and has a surprising number of health benefits. If it isn’t already frequently used in your cooking, here are a few suggestions for increasing your cinnamon consumption:
- Add to coffee or chai tea
- Goes great with many breakfast foods including oatmeal, waffles, pancakes
- Can enhance many fruit dishes including apple dishes (sauce, baked, crisps), grilled fruit
- A pinch of cinnamon can enhance beans, lentils, spaghetti sauce, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower, chili
- Add cinnamon to nut butters or chocolate to use as dips or spreads
Cinnamon is high in anti-oxidants. One teaspoon of cinnamon has as much as a half cup of blueberries. It is also high in fiber, flavanols, calcium, iron, and manganese.
It is an effective anti-microbial and anti-bacterial and has been effective in fighting strains of E. coli and Candida yeast. Cinnamon is even more effective when dealing with oral health. In fact, studies show it to be twice as effective.
Cinnamon has been shown to counteract the effects of rich foods that are high in fat. By increasing cinnamon in your diet at each meal, studies have shown that the spice lowers triglycerides in the blood by a third.
As a sweet spice, it makes it easier to cut back on sugar (along with ginger and nutmeg). Additionally, the increase in cinnamon and its anti-oxidant properties helps to reduce fasting blood sugar levels. It also slows the speed at which the stomach empties its contents and can increase sensitivity to insulin, thereby making diabetes more manageable. Cinnamon’s health benefits don’t just stop there. By helping to regulate blood sugar levels, the spice can help to prevent the associated tissue damage and inflammation.
Even more amazing, is the fact that studies have shown that even just the smell of cinnamon enhances cognitive processing and consuming it is even more effective. Some scientists suggest that cinnamon may help the brain heal and cinnamon extract may have helpful properties after a traumatic brain injury or stroke. Additionally, a compound that cinnamon is metabolized in to has been shown to have helpful properties in mice with Parkinson’s disease and has demonstrated effects in fighting Alzheimer’s as well as being a mood lifter.
Increasing cinnamon in your diet will improve the health of your gut and may improve a wide range in intestinal complaints from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diarrhea, acid reflux to indigestion and chronic pain such as arthritis.
Cinnamon lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, and can aid with weight loss by boosting the metabolism. Truly, there are so many benefits to including more cinnamon in our diets it’s a wonder more people don’t call it a miracle spice.