I’ve always seen cinnamon as kind of a luxury item; our family loves a piping cup of wassail or cider with a stick of cinnamon to stir. My mother put cinnamon into our family Christmas Day tradition by pairing it with nutmeg as the spices for our annual curried fruit at Christmas Dinner. The smell of it positively entrances me.
But the truth is, nowadays it’s not that hard to get, and its a good thing, too! Cinnamon has been used medicinally since the days of the ancient Egyptians, and besides being such a delicious spice, it carries a good array of health benefits that most people don’t know about. But we are excited about them, so let’s take a look!
1. Cinnamon is packed with antioxidants.
It’s powerful arsenal of antioxidants such as polyphenols protect the body from damage caused by oxidization (basically “brain rust”) and havoc caused by free radicals. In a study that compared the antioxidant efficiency of twenty six different spices, cinnamon came out the clear winner, even above more famous counterparts like garlic and oregano! It is so potent, in fact, that cinnamon can be used as a natural food preservative.
2. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties.
It has been said that cinnamon fights fungal infestations, and also that candida cannot live in a cinnamon environment. As someone who has personally suffered at the hands of the brutal and murderous candida, that makes me want to take one heck of a lot more cinnamon. The anti-inflammatory agents in the spice combats infection and inflammation throughout the body.
3. Cinnamon significantly lowers the risk of heart disease.
The number one cause of premature death in -get this- the WORLD, happens to be heart disease and conditions. Cinnamon has been shown to drastically lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, while stabilizing and increasing HDL, the “good” cholesterol you body needs. Studies have also shown that cinnamon improves and regulates blood pressure.
4. Cinnamon is insulin’s sidekick.
Insulin resistance in the body leads to very serious repercussions, such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon increases your body’s sensitivity to insulin, allowing it to work more efficiently and smoothly. Cinnamon has even been shown to mimic the effects of insulin upon cells in the body, not only making insulin work better, but helping it do its job! It also lowers overall blood sugar, which in turn can prevent diabetes.
5. Cinnamon combats neuro-degenerative disease and improves cognitive function.
This is one of my very favorite effects. If you don’t have beauty or brawn, go for brains, right? Well, two separate compounds found in cinnamon appear to prevent the buildup of a protein called “tau” in your brain, which is linked to Alzheimer’s. In tests with subjects that had Parkinson’s disease, cinnamon protected neurons, normalized neuro-transmitter levels and improved motor function. Not only can it help you if your brain is having problems; it can serve to make a healthy brain even better! During some intelligence studies, test subjects completed activities on a computer to measure cognitive function while being exposed to different aromas. Cinnamon, lavender, peppermint, and no odor were all tested, and cinnamon came out the clear winner with signs of improved memory, attentional processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor speed. It is also suggested that it would help greatly individuals who suffer from test anxiety.
6. Cinnamon can be a pain killer.
Consuming cinnamon when you suffer a headache or migraine can be a good, natural way to combat the pain and get it off your mind! I was just suffering a massive headache last night, and I wish I would have known this then. Arthritis sufferers have also noticed they get significant pain relief when they ingest or apply topically a mixture of honey and cinnamon. It’s not a cure-all, but it has helped a great many people!
7. Cinnamon can improve circulation.
Cinnamon contains compounds in it which naturally thin the blood and act as anti-clotting agents. This can aid with maintaining healthy circulation and keep blood pressure from getting too high. The anti-clotting effect may also help to prevent heart attacks and strokes; not bad, huh?
So there you have it! Seven awesome health benefits that are too often overlooked in this lovely little spice. Adding a bit of it here and there where you may not think to, otherwise, -in your tea, coffee, a stick in your savory dishes- can be doing yourself a huge favor. So the next time you are enjoying the warm, beautiful smell of cinnamon, or tasting it’s sweet spiciness on your lips, go ahead and smile. Because cinnamon really is something else!