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.
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:
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Cinnamon has the potential to decrease joint pain, which may help individuals suffering from arthritis.
- Regulate blood sugar levels: Cinnamon may help individuals suffering from Type 2 diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels.
- Anti-bacterial properties: Cinnamon may help prevent bacterial infections such as, urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease.
- 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!
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?