The popular fragrant, warming and delicious spice, cinnamon, has been adored for many years before us. Once considered a rare and valuable treat or gift more precious than gold. It dates back as far as the Ancient Egyptian era where they used it to flavour beverages and medicine, as well as using it as an embalming agent. Nowadays, it’s available for everybody who wishes to use it.
Cinnamon is made from the bark of the cinnamon tree. It is created by cutting strips from the tree, extracting the inside and discarding the woody exterior. The removed content from the inside is dried out, and it forms into a curl, which is what we know as a cinnamon stick. These sticks are then ground down to a powder, both the sticks and the powder, are used for health and nutritional purposes.
There are two types of cinnamon available, Chinese (or Cassia cinnamon) and Ceylon (known as ‘true cinnamon’), which have similar flavours, but the Ceylon variety is slightly sweeter, more refined and harder to find in your local shops.
If you are adding cinnamon to your food or using a beauty product which contains cinnamon, here are some of the main benefits you could be seeing:
Lower Blood Sugar
Adding cinnamon to your diet can help lessen the impact food has on your blood sugar levels. The ancient spice slows the rate in which the stomach empties after meals, which reduces the rise in blood sugar after eating.
Cinnamon has also responded well when tested on people with type 2 diabetes in two different ways. Firstly, by improving their ability to respond to insulin, thus normalising their blood sugar levels. Secondly, it can help reduce blood pressure which has a positive effect on blood markers. Cinnamon works directly with the muscle cells that force them to remove sugar from the bloodstream. In addition to this, cinnamon has a naturally sweet taste that is devoid of sugar, making it a great addition to foods, without overloading on your sugar intake.
High in Antioxidants
Cinnamon is known to be one of the top foods in the world to contain a variety of protective antioxidants which fight against free radical damage. The benefits can be attributed to polyphenols, phenolic acid, and flavonoids. Research has shown that the antioxidant level in cinnamon means that it sits at number seven of all foods, spices, and herbs across the world for its protective powers. It has also been proven to have a higher antioxidant count than 26 others spices, including garlic, thyme, rosemary, and oregano.
Not only do the antioxidants contained in cinnamon have the ability to protect us from scavenging free radicals, but they can also have anti-inflammatory effects which can help with lowering the risk of heart disease, cancer, the decline in brain function, and more.
There are seven types of flavonoids which can be found in cinnamon alone, and they are highly effective at fighting dangerous levels of inflammation in the body which can help manage particular types of pain such as PMS, allergic reactions and age-related symptoms of pain, too.
Fights Infections & Viruses
Cinnamon has many benefits when it comes to defending the body from illnesses. It is antimicrobial, antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral! Cinnamon oil has been used for many years for its ability to help fight against harmful infections and protect against bacteria which can cause colds or the flu.
Protects Teeth & Freshens Breath Naturally
The warming, spicy scent of cinnamon may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to making your breath fresh. However, studies have shown that extracts of cinnamon protect against bacteria living in the oral microflora that can cause bad breath, tooth decay and cavities. It can also be used as a natural flavouring agent, which you will find in the PUR Gum Cinnamon Bag or Green People Fennel & Propolis Toothpaste, both protecting your teeth without adding any chemicals to your body.
Cinnamon has both antibiotic and antimicrobial properties. This helps to protect the skin from irritation, rashes, allergic reactions, and infections. You will find skin care products which contain the spice in their formulas, so you can benefit from their properties without having to use cinnamon directly on the skin. However, applying a small amount of cinnamon essential oil to the skin can be helpful in reducing inflammation, redness, or pain. You can find the beneficial ingredient in May Lindstrom The Clean Dirt Cleansing Clay, Bellapierre Mineral Foundation Powder and Mauli Rituals Spirited Body Oil.
Cinnamon in Cooking
Cinnamon is a cosy, and delicious spice which is very simple to add to your diet. Most commonly found in recipes throughout the autumn and winter, but don’t let that put you off throughout the entire year.
One of its lesser known benefits is it makes a great food preserver. Due to its antibacterial and antioxidant benefits, it can be added to many foods to naturally preserve its shelf life, without the need to add in chemicals or artificial ingredients.
Here’s a simple vegan breakfast recipe to get you started cooking with cinnamon.
Fluffy Maple Vegan Cinnamon French Toast
Sorry to the traditionalists out there who can’t believe that French toast can be made vegan, but this recipe is warm, delightful and crispy – you can forgive the move away from the classic recipe.
This recipe makes six slices, but you can adapt the recipe to your needs.
Cinnamon is naturally sweet tasting, contains no sugar at all and has no calories, so it makes an incredibly healthy addition to meals.
- 6 Slices of day-old bread, the thicker, the better.
- 1 3/4 cups of soy milk
- 3 tablespoons of egg replacement
- 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
- 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
- Dash of vanilla spice or 1/4 of vanilla extract.
- 3 tablespoons of vegan butter and extra maple syrup for drizzling.
- Heat a non-stick pan or skillet.
- Whisk together all of the ingredients, except the vegan butter and bread.
- When the pan is hot, drop in 1-2 tablespoons of vegan butter.
- Soak your bread in the liquid mixture and add to the pan.
- Add as many slices as will fit, 2 or 3 is okay, cook for two minutes on each side. Flipping them over carefully.
- Add an extra sprinkling of cinnamon and maple syrup if you like, while it cooks.
- Remove with large spatula, and cool for a few minutes before serving.
So, can cinnamon benefit our health? Absolutely!