Sweet and Savory, Cinnamon’s Health Benefits

November 01, 2011

It can be one of the easiest and healthiest additions to your everyday meals, find out what this what this wonderful botanical can do for you

Cinnamon has been used as a botanical medicine for over 4,000 years. The spice is obtained from the inner bark of several varieties of a tropical evergreen tree (genus, Cinnamomum). Many of its healing and health promoting properties are attributed to its essential oils and phytonutrients. The range of health applications and anecdotal applications are broad, and range from boosting cognitive function and memory, treating rheumatism, helping with digestion and relieving certain menstrual disorders, regulating blood sugar, as well as inhibiting bacterial growth, making it an effective natural food preservative.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that the polyphenols in cinnamon may also be beneficial for regulating blood sugar. In the body, sugars and starches are broken down by the liver into glucose, which is then released into the blood and used as fuel. Insulin acts as the key to let glucose into cells. According to the research, cinnamon appears to mimic insulin, helping to drive glucose into the cells. This improved insulin response could be helpful for keeping blood sugar levels in check.

Cinnamon also contains the powerful phytonutrient, cinnamaldehyde, which is known for its anti-inflammatory abilities and antimicrobial protection. This particular phytonutrient has been studied for its role in preventing unwanted blood clotting, which ultimately benefits cardiovascular health and is thought to help stop the growth of Candida (yeast) and H. pylori (bacteria associated with ulcers).

Two teaspoons of cinnamon contains 2.5 grams of fiber, 38 percent of the daily recommendation of manganese, and 9.6 and 5.6 percent of the daily recommendation of iron and calcium respectively, as well as significant amounts of carotenoids. The combination of manganese and calcium promote bone health, while iron enhances oxygen distribution thus helping energy levels. One teaspoon of cinnamon contains a similar amount of antioxidants as a cup of pomegranate juice or half cup of blueberries.

Cinnamon storage and shopping tips:

Cinnamon can be found in both powder and as whole cinnamon sticks in the herbs and spices section of your grocery store. Cinnamon powder should smell strong and sweet.
Cinnamon sticks do not have as strong of a scent but can be stored longer than powder, one of the best uses is in boiling hot liquids such as coffee, tea, milk or even hot chocolate.

To preserve freshness and nutrients, store both ground and whole cinnamon sticks in a tightly sealed, glass container, in a cool, dark and dry place. Ground cinnamon will keep for about 6 months. Whole cinnamon sticks will stay fresh for about 1 year if stored same way. You can extend the shelf life and flavor of cinnamon sticks by storing them in the refrigerator.