The sweet and spicy flavor of cinnamon has been used by many different cultures for its medicinal properties for hundreds, even thousands, of years.
One of the most talked about benefits of cinnamon relates to type 2 diabetes. A study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day significantly reduces blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It also reduces triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels among this group.
Cinnamon’s other benefits include:
Supports digestive function
Constricts and tones tissues
Relieves pain and stiffness of muscles and joints
Relieves menstrual discomfort
Blood-thinning compounds that stimulate circulation
Anti-inflammatory compounds that may relieve arthritis
Helps prevent urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease
It’s a powerful anti-microbial agent that can kill E. coli and other bacteriaWhile you’d probably be more likely to eat half a teaspoon of cinnamon rather than an ounce in one sitting, the above profile serves as an estimate of the nutritional benefits derived from even the smaller amount. And that, of course, is a bonus to what we think of as the main benefit of this fragrant culinary spice.
What does manganese do for you? A lot, actually. Manganese is a trace mineral that helps the body form strong bones, connective tissues, and sex hormones, and coagulates the blood properly. It helps metabolize fat and carbohydrates, regulate blood sugar, absorb calcium, and is essential for optimal brain and nerve function. As if that’s not enough, it’s also a component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase, which helps neutralize free radicals that can damage cell membranes and DNA. Proper levels of manganese have been linked to the prevention of diabetes, arthritis, epilepsy, and even PMS.
Touching on a few more benefits, the oils in cinnamon give it three distinct health benefits: cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol. Platelets help blood coagulate to keep blood from flowing too freely when an injury occurs, but cinnamaldehyde helps prevent it from coagulating too much.
Another advantage is its antimicrobial activity. When researchers tested the effects of just a few drops of cinnamon oil on three ounces of refrigerated carrot broth, the growth of the foodborne pathogenic Bacillus cereus was inhibited for 60 days. But the B. cereus flourished in the same amount of carrot broth without the cinnamon, despite refrigeration. This antimicrobial effect was known to the ancient Egyptians, who used cinnamon in their mummification processes.
Just smelling cinnamon or chewing cinnamon gum is enough to boost brain activity, according to another study. In fact, test scores were higher, and memory, visual recognition, and motor speed were greatly enhanced in individuals who took a whiff of cinnamon, compared with individuals who smelled jasmine, peppermint, or no fragrance at all.
One study noted that while cinnamon reduces blood glucose concentration and enhances insulin sensitivity in normal-weight adults, obese individuals experience insulin resistance, which results in increased fasting and postprandial (after-meal) blood glucose and insulin levels. To compare dips in postprandial glycemic response, 30 people of both types were given just under a cup of instant farina cereal, half of them with six grams of ground cinnamon added and the other half plain. Blood glucose levels were measured at several intervals, from 15 minutes to two hours.
The addition of cinnamon to the cereal resulted in a significant reduction in blood glucose levels in the first group, compared to the second. The researchers concluded that cinnamon may be effective in moderating postprandial glucose response in normal weight and obese adults
Scientists also reported that cinnamon could be used as a potent chemopreventive drug in cervical cancer – “chemoprevention” meaning the use of synthetic and/or natural agents to block the development of cancer – and an extremely promising strategy for cancer prevention. Cinnamon was noted as one of the most widely used herbal medicines that have diverse biological activities, such as inhibited tumor growth. The report concluded that cinnamon extract induced apoptosis (death) in cervical cancer cells.
Cinnamon Healthy Recipes: Cinnamon Flax Fruit
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons flax seeds
Sliced banana or apple*
Grind the flax seeds in a coffee grinder. Add cinnamon.
Top fruit with flax mix.
This recipe makes four servings.
*Use bananas and green apples that are not fully ripe and contain less sugar.
(From Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type by Dr. Mercola)