Cinnamon is a potent spice. It has been used for thousands of years not just for its aroma, but for its powerful medicinal properties as well. The most important properties of cinnamon are those of its antioxidants. They fight free radicals, which might cause diseases like cancer, diabetes, inflammatory arthritis, dementia, and even age-related macular degeneration. Now, we are sure you want to avoid all of those. So, keep reading this post.
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Different Types Of Cinnamon (And Which Is The Best)
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of Cinnamomum verum trees that usually grow in Sri Lanka. It has a sweet and savory flavor. Cinnamon comes in different types, but not all of them are created equal. What differentiates them is their coumarin content. Coumarin is a natural substance in cinnamon that may cause liver damage (1). So, when you are taking cinnamon, you must ensure it contains as little coumarin as possible.
There are four types of cinnamon – Indonesian cinnamon (contains 2.15 grams of coumarin per kg), Saigon cinnamon (6.97 grams/kg), Cassia cinnamon (0.31 grams/kg), and Ceylon cinnamon (0.017 grams/kg).
Ceylon cinnamon, also known as True Cinnamon or Mexican Cinnamon, is the safest type of cinnamon. But how can you identify it? You cannot tell the difference when you buy cinnamon in powder form. But when you buy cinnamon sticks, the one with the thin layer is Ceylon cinnamon.
You can get your Ceylon cinnamon sticks from Walmart or online at Amazon. You can include them in various dishes – for, they can benefit you in some amazing ways. Take a look at the benefits.
What Are The Benefits Of Cinnamon?
1. Cinnamon Has Powerful Antioxidants
Cinnamon is loaded with polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals. Research has discovered over 41 protective compounds in cinnamon that can benefit you (2).
Cinnamon ranks #7 among all foods on the ORAC scale – a measurement for the concentration of antioxidants. Among spices, cinnamon contains the most antioxidants. Apart from polyphenols, cinnamon also contains phenolic acid and other flavonoids. These are similar antioxidants found in other power foods like berries and dark chocolate.
Cinnamon also limits the build-up of nitric oxide in the blood and lipid peroxidation, which can increase the risk of cancer and heart disease, among other conditions.
2. Fights Inflammation In Your Body
The anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon can help ease different kinds of swelling (3). When you use cinnamon along with other spices and food, you can enjoy a cumulative anti-inflammatory effect.
3. Protects You From Cancer
Cinnamon is toxic to cancer cells and induces cancer cell death. It reduces the growth of cancer cells and prevents them from proliferating. One study done on mice showed interesting results – the spice activates enzymes in the colon that detoxify the organ and prevent cancer proliferation (4).
Cinnamaldehyde, another bioactive compound also exerts anticancer properties. In one study, the volume of tumors in melanoma cancer decreased after the administration of cinnamaldehyde (5). And the polyphenols in cinnamon offer protection against brain cancer.
4. Boosts Your Heart Health
Cinnamon reduces your bad cholesterol and stabilizes the levels of good cholesterol, thereby preventing heart attacks. This is especially true in patients with type 2 diabetes (6). Several animal studies have also shown how cinnamon can reduce blood pressure.
Cinnamon can also reduce the ill effects of a high-fat diet. If you are looking to cut fat from your diet, you can start by consuming cinnamon and drastically cutting down on junk. Scientists have found that intake of cinnamon can reduce the number of fat molecules in your body – molecules involved in the fat storing process.
Cinnamon improves blood circulation as well. This means it improves the body’s ability to repair itself after damage. This includes the heart tissue as well, which, in this case, can repair itself – thereby halting a potential heart attack.
5. Lowers Your Blood Sugar Levels
Several small studies have linked cinnamon intake to lowered blood sugar levels. The spice achieves this by lowering insulin resistance. But don’t take cinnamon without talking to your doctor if you also have liver issues.
The antioxidants in cinnamon help in a big way. They reduce oxidative stress, which can otherwise make diabetes worse (7). Oxidative stress is a major contributor to type 2 diabetes.
An article in TIME magazine cites a research study – where people with type 2 diabetes who took cinnamon supplements daily saw great reduction in their blood sugar levels (8).
Despite cinnamon being great for diabetics, the studies offer mixed results. We suggest you talk to your doctor before using this spice for treating your condition.
6. Cinnamon Improves Your Digestive Health
The oils in cinnamon have powerful antimicrobial properties. These fight bacteria that cause infections in the digestive tract. The antifungal properties of cinnamon even treat candida in the digestive tract (9).
Cinnamon essential oil improves nutrient absorption in the gut. This not only improves gut health but also contributes to your overall well-being. You can add a drop of the essential oil to your morning tea and sip on it.
7. Improves Your Dental Health
Cinnamon can relieve toothache. Research shows how this spice can treat toothaches and oral infections and even eliminate bad breath (10).
Chewing on a cinnamon stick or gargling cinnamon water (a pinch of cinnamon in plain water) can freshen your breath.
8. Treats Your Sore Throat
Thanks to the antibacterial properties and antioxidants in cinnamon, the spice can ease a sore throat. You can simply add a teaspoon of cinnamon powder to your morning tea – that must give you relief.
9. Cinnamon Enhances Your Skin Health
Cinnamon works great in treating acne. The antibacterial properties of the spice help eliminate the bacteria that cause acne.
All you need to do is use a simple cinnamon face mask. Mix three tablespoons of honey with a teaspoon of cinnamon. Whip the mixture into a thick paste and apply to your face. While the cinnamon fights the harmful bacteria, the honey reduces the redness and restores your skin’s moisture.
Leave this mask on for about 10 minutes (or until it starts to burn) and wash your face with cool water. Pat dry.
Cinnamon also brings blood to the skin surface, causing minor plumping. You can use this to get rid of fine lines. Mixing three drops of cinnamon essential oil with a couple of tablespoons of petroleum jelly and applying to your face can help.
And what else? Cinnamon can help you get plump lips too! Adding a little Vaseline to your lips and patting a pinch of cinnamon on top can work wonders. Just rub the mixture on for a few seconds and allow it to sit for a minute. You might experience a tingling sensation. Add another coat of Vaseline, and you are good to go.
Note: Never apply cinnamon alone directly to your skin. It can cause irritation.
10. Helps In Hair Growth
Though research is less, some reliable sources suggest cinnamon may boost your hair growth. It achieves this by improving circulation in your scalp. Applying cinnamon paste to your scalp can help.
For the paste, all you need is half a cup of olive oil and a teaspoon each of cinnamon and honey. Pour the olive oil into a saucepan and put it over the stove. Warm the oil to a lukewarm temperature and then remove it from the flame. Now, pour it into a bowl and add the cinnamon and honey. Mix well. Using a brush applicator, apply this mixture to your scalp. Work from the back to the front of your scalp. Leave the paste on for 15 minutes, post which you can shampoo and condition your hair as usual.
Apply this paste once a week for better hair growth and reduced hair fall.
Cinnamon is replete with powerful nutrients. You saw some of them already. So, how about taking a look at the entire nutritional profile?
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Cinnamon?
There are different ways you can incorporate cinnamon into your diet. Keep reading to find out how.
How To Take Cinnamon
- As Cinnamon Powder
You can use the powder in cooking. Just add a pinch of it while preparing your favorite dish. You can even add the spice to your morning oatmeal.
- As Supplements
You can use cinnamon supplements as well. Just ensure you check with your health care provider or nutritionist about the right brand and safety.
- As A Liquid Concoction
Add a pinch of cinnamon to plain hot water and drink it up. You can even add a few drops of lemon. Adding a pinch of cinnamon to your morning tea or coffee also helps.
No matter how rosy cinnamon is, not everything about it is desirable. It does have its share of side effects.
What Are The Side Effects Of Cinnamon?
- May Cause Liver Damage
As discussed, coumarin in cinnamon can damage the liver. Ceylon cinnamon is the preferred choice as it contains the least amount of coumarin by weight. If you have liver issues, it is best to stay away from cinnamon altogether.
- Issues During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding
Though cinnamon is safe when taken in normal amounts, excess of it can cause issues. Stay safe and avoid its use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Low Blood Sugar And Low Blood Pressure
Cinnamon can lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels. If you are taking medications for any of these conditions, check with your doctor. They might adjust your dose accordingly.
- Issues During Surgery
Cinnamon may interfere with blood sugar and blood pressure control during or after surgery. Hence, avoid taking cinnamon at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
You probably thought cinnamon works great for its aroma alone. But this post sure would have changed that. Start including cinnamon in your diet today. A pinch would do!
And tell us how this post has helped you. Just leave a comment in the box below.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How much cinnamon can you take per day?
The tolerable intake of coumarin is 0.5 mg per pound of body weight. This equates to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon per day.
Does cinnamon contain sugar?
Yes, though in a negligible amount – 1 teaspoon (2.6 grams) of cinnamon contains 0.1 grams of sugar.
Does cinnamon contain caffeine?
No. Hence, you cannot get high on cinnamon.