Cinnamon spice is well known for being sweet and warming. It adds a tasty flavour to desserts like apple and pear crumble. Did you know it is also full of health benefits backed by scientific research? It is especially helpful for lowering blood sugar levels and increasing “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
Cinnamon is made from the inner bark of trees. There are two main types of cinnamon:
- Ceylon cinnamon is known as real cinnamon.
- Cassia Chinese cinnamon is the common variety that people refer to as cinnamon.
Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants
Antioxidants protect your body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols
In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, cinnamon wound up as the clear winner, even outranking ‘superfoods’ like garlic and oregano.
In fact, it is so powerful that cinnamon can be used as a natural food preservative
An essential oil in cinnamon called cinnamaldehyde can target your fat cells and make them burn more energy, according to a lab study.
One small study that found Ceylon cinnamon, specifically, can fight the types of bacteria known to cause acne. Another small lab study suggests that cinnamon can boost collagen production, which might help your skin look younger.
Help treat cancer
In studies using animals or cells grown in labs, cinnamon has shown promise for its ability to slow cancer growth and even kill tumour cells. We need well-run studies of humans to know what role, if any, cinnamon could play in curing or preventing cancer.
Lower blood pressure
Several studies suggest that eating cinnamon every day for 3 months can bring your systolic blood pressure (the top number) down by as much as 5 points.
Protect your brain
In a lab setting, cinnamon stopped the build-up of a brain protein that’s a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. In another study, rats who had cinnamon did better in a water maze designed to test their memory. Of course, we need to see if these findings carry over when tested on humans.
It turns out that cinnamon was a top inflammation-fighter in a recent laboratory study that looked at 115 foods. Since inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis become more common as you age, more research could support using cinnamon as a natural remedy for older adults to help with these types of conditions.
When 60 adults in a small study ate about 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon every day for 40 days, their LDL (bad) cholesterol went down. Other research has found that similar amounts of cinnamon, eaten daily for up to 18 weeks, can lower LDL and total cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol. But it’s too early to recommend cinnamon as a treatment for high cholesterol.
Cinnamon can fight many types of bacteria that make people sick, including salmonella, E. coli, and staph. Perhaps it could be used as a natural preservative in foods and cosmetics.
Regulate menstrual cycles for PCOS
While taking a dose of 1.5 grams (about 1/2 teaspoon) of cinnamon each day for 6 months, women with polycystic ovary syndrome in one small but well-designed study had more regular periods. Their insulin resistance and androgen levels didn’t change, though.
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