Cinnamon is a superstar ingredient in the kitchen. It’s distinct sweet, spicy, and aromatic taste is known and loved by many. Whether you like to mix it into your favorite cookie batter, bake it into a fruit pie, blitz it into fruit smoothies, or even stew it with middle-eastern dishes, cinnamon is a kitchen staple.
This spice is beloved both on a culinary and medicinal level. Studies on cinnamon have shown that it provides us with as many health benefits as it does uses in the kitchen.
Originating from Sri Lanka and dating back as far as 2800 B.C, here’s what you need to know about this ancient super spice:
1. Blood Sugar Stabilization
If you enjoy yourself a carby meal and a sugary dessert to follow, taking cinnamon would be especially beneficial for you thanks to its ability to lower blood sugar. You’ll know you’re going through a blood sugar rollercoaster if you want to lie down after you’ve had something sweet or if you generally feel sluggish after a meal; this is the energy high then eventual crash you get from sugar and refined carbs.
Consuming cinnamon reduces blood sugar levels and results in the prevention of big surges of insulin, the hormone secreted to metabolize sugar. This means feeling less tired and sluggish, especially if you’re prone to sugar crashes.
2. Fat loss
Thanks to cinnamon’s blood sugar stabilization, it also has the potential to help you lose weight and to keep excess weight off, especially around your abdomen.
Stubborn fat around your torso could be due to having too much insulin. When our bodies produce this hormone, it’s meant to metabolize sugar, however when there is too much sugar for our bodies to use, insulin deposits it into our fat cells, particularly around your stomach area.
Since cinnamon increases our sensitivity to insulin, our bodies don’t need to produce as much of the hormone, leaving less of it to deposit excess sugar into fat cells. This is why cinnamon is a popular spice in many types of fat-burning products.
3. Cinnamon and anti-inflammatory benefits
Did you know that turmeric isn’t the only anti-inflammatory powerhouse spice in your pantry? Cinnamon contains an anti-inflammatory compound called cinnamic acid which protect our bodies from inflammation and oxidative stress from free radicals. This means more protection from diseases stemming from chronic inflammation such as arthritis, heart disease, and stroke.
Fortunately for us, cinnamon is an easy spice to work with to reap its anti-inflammatory benefits. Here are a few simple anti-inflammatory recipes featuring cinnamon.
Post workout smoothie
Keep exercise free-radicals at bay by blending:
- 1 banana
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 heaped tablespoon nut butter of choice
- Splash of vanilla (optional)
- Pinch of sea salt (optional)
Anti-inflammatory and immune boosting tea:
Negate the greying effects of pollution and the day’s stresses with this evening tea:
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 Teaspoon honey
- 1 cup of freshly brewed ginger
Pair it with a calming supplement to give your body a complete cue to rest and wind down.
4. Ceylon Cinnamon vs. Commercial Cinnamon
Did you know that not all cinnamon is created equal? The food industry is a highly unregulated business with many manufacturers cutting corners and as a result, sacrificing quality. Cinnamon is no exception here.
The most common type of cinnamon comes from a cousin of cinnamon called Cassia, which originates from China. While it may look, smell, and taste like cinnamon to the undiscerning eye, Cassia doesn’t have the same potency of true cinnamon and is potentially toxic in high doses. Seeing as it is cheaper and of lower quality, this is likely what you find commercially. Be wary, if you’re after real Cinnamon, don’t assume that it’s the stuff you find on supermarket shelves.
True cinnamon on the other hand, called Ceylon Cinnamon, is native to Sri Lanka and is non-toxic. It is less processed than its commercial counterpart explaining why it is more expensive and harder to find. Opt for Ceylon Cinnamon to reap all the benefits this spice has to offer.