Cinnamon: Want A Little Spice In Your Life?

Cinnamon Sticks
Photo by jslander via Flickr

There is something about the sweet smell of cinnamon during the cold winter months that brings back happy memories from childhood and infuses your house with comfort and warmth. Not only does cinnamon have a magnificent aroma, it also has a wonderful flavor that makes it a perfect spice to use, especially during the holiday season. It complements many dishes and is a great spice to have in the pantry, ready and waiting to be used.

What is cinnamon?
The cinnamon we all know is actually a brown bark that is cultivated from the Cinnamon tree, which is a small evergreen tree native to Sri Lanka. Cinnamon is one of the longest used spices. You can even find mentions of it in the bible. It has been highly prized for centuries, not only for its use as a spice, but also for medicinal purposes.

Health Benefits
There are now studies that lend credence to some of the claims that our ancestors made for this popular spice, but not all of them. These studies have found that cinnamon may actually have some medicinal properties worth noting, such as:

  1. Anti-inflammatory properties: Cinnamon has the potential to decrease joint pain, which may help individuals suffering from arthritis.
  2. Regulate blood sugar levels: Cinnamon may help individuals suffering from Type 2 diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels.
  3. Anti-bacterial properties: Cinnamon may help prevent bacterial infections such as, urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease.
  4. Increases mental function: Some studies have found that just by smelling cinnamon, a person’s memory and overall cognitive function improves. Even if that doesn’t work, at least it smells good!
  5. Good source of manganese, calcium, fiber and iron: Calcium and fiber can help prevent heart disease and improve colon health.

Adding cinnamon to your foods
Cinnamon is a wonderful spice that is used extensively in foods. You can normally find this spice in cookies, pies, breads and muffins. Here are a few other serving suggestions:

  1. Oatmeal: Add a dash of cinnamon to your oatmeal. It will make it even more delicious and reduce your need for sugar if you used sugar in your oatmeal.
  2. French Toast: Instead of pouring maple syrup on your French Toast, try cinnamon instead. It really adds a nice flavor without giving you a lot of sugar.
  3. Granola: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon next time you bake some granola. It will give your granola a wonderful taste.

Cinnamon is a great spice that not only tastes good and smells good, but may also be loaded with health benefits when eaten in small doses. Just don’t get carried away and start eating spoonfuls of it, which would make you gag and possibly worse.

So, the next time you are enjoying cinnamon in one of your dishes, realize that you are also doing your body good. Isn’t it wonderful to have something as enjoyable as cinnamon also be good for you?

Comments (10)

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  1. Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, synonym C. zeylanicum) is native to Sri Lanka. Then there’s cassia (Cinnamomum aromaticum, synonym C. cassia), native to China, Bangladesh, India, and Viet Nam, that is frequently sold as cinnamon since the flavours, colours, and texture are very similar. To further complicate matters, there are also other relatives to cinnamon and cassia that are also sometimes sold as cinnamon.

    I believe the health benefits you refer to in this article are for Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, synonym C. zeylanicum), not cassia. Cassia has health warnings associated with it due to its coumarin content, which cinnamon does not have.

    To get the health benefits as you describe, a person would have to make sure they’re getting cinnamon, not cassia or one of the other relatives.

  2. Talli van Sunder says:

    That is a good point to clarify which one provides the health benefits. In reference to type 2 diabetes, the study I read used Cinnamomum cassia, which some people call Chinese cinnamon. Here is the study: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/full/26/12/3215

  3. Yeah, could be the cassia – I’m going off of my memory, which can be quite faulty.

    At any rate, the point was to make sure you (the generic you) know what you’re getting since cassia is frequently sold as cinnamon, as are a couple of other types. 🙂

  4. PeppersGhost says:

    You never cease to amaze me Talli. I think of something and the next day you blogged about it already.

  5. Christine says:

    Did someone say cinnamon?

    I LOVE organic cinnamon and use it dishes from spaghetti bolognese to baked fruit. I’m happy to know it also provides great health benefits, but let’s face it, it tastes SO good!

    Thanks Talli for another great post!

  6. Dani says:

    It’s even more confusing because Sri Lanka cinnamon trees have been exported to the above-mentioned countries and actually grow there along with cassia. There’s a very informative wikipedia page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamon

    Happy New Year!

  7. Talli van Sunder says:

    @Dani Thanks for the information. That can be very confusing.

  8. Rosy says:

    Lovely post! I have had cinnamon in my life since I was a toddler. My mother would add it to hot drinks, rice water and mexican style rice puddings. I love cinnamon, just love it.

  9. Leor says:

    Mmmmm…. I love cinnamon with oatmeal and banana.

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