One of the most popularly-used herbs in the western world is also massively underrated for it’s health benefits. This particular herb is a powerful tool for fighting viruses, easing symptoms of arthritis, and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Bonus points, it’s a delicious addition to a wide variety of recipes, and a kitchen staple; $10 says you’ve already got cinnamon on the spice-rack!
That’s right- you can feel just a little less guilty about everyone’s favorite mall-food: there is at least some redeeming quality to that giant cinnamon roll. (I’m completely rationalizing this for my own benefit.)
The herb cinnamon is derived from the inner bark of several trees in the genus Cinnamomum. Most publicly-sold cinnamon- what you’re probably buying at the supermarket- is called Cassia. While the Cassia varieties still offer many health benefits, the best bet for medicinal purposes is Cinnamomum verum– also called Ceylon or “true cinnamon”.
Ceylon has a much milder taste than Cassia, and may lose some of it’s flavor when cooked. It is best used in uncooked dishes (homemade applesauce with Ceylon and raw honey, yummm!) or you can use a little extra in those snickerdoodles.
Below are just a few of the ways cinnamon may be beneficial to your health.
RICH SOURCE OF ANTIOXIDANTS:
Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants such as polyphenols, which help protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Though other herbs- such as garlic and oregano- are more well-known for their antioxidant properties, Ceylon cinnamon is actually a better source. So much so, in fact, that it can be used as a natural food preservative.
REDUCES RISK OF HEART DISEASE:
The herb cinnamon has been shown to reduce levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Recent studies have shown that a cinnamon dose of 120 milligrams per day can not only lower harmful cholesterol, but also increase HDL levels, or “good” cholesterol. Though studies have so far been limited, animal studies have shown promising results in lowering blood-pressure. Between these factors, cinnamon may help significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
Cinnamon also has powerful anti-diabetic effects. Research has shown that a dose of 1 gram of cinnamon can have beneficial results on blood markers in those with type 2 diabetes. Compounds in Ceylon cinnamon reduce insulin-resistance common in metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, greatly increasing sensitivity to insulin. Cinnamon also contains compounds that mimic insulin and, although slower-acting than insulin itself, improves glucose uptake by cells. The herb also helps limit the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal by interfering with a number of digestive enzymes and slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates. Several human studies have shown that a dose of 1-6 grams of cinnamon a day (roughly 0.5-2 teaspoons) can lower fasting blood sugar levels by 10-29%.
CONTAINS BLOOD-THINNING AGENTS:
Cinnamon contains coumarine, a blood-thinning agent. (For this specific compound, levels are actually higher in Cassia varieties than in Ceylon, so the store-bought stuff will do just fine.) Cinnamon may help diminish the risk of heart-attack, stroke, and complications of heart disease. By increasing blood-flow, cinnamon also helps increase your metabolism and aids in weight-loss.
Both Cinnamon Leaf Oil and Cinnamon Bark Oil (Ceylon variety) are powerful tools against infection, with strong anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. Dilute the oil with water to use in house-cleaning (particularly useful in the kitchen). If you suffer from acne, boil 2-3 Ceylon cinnamon sticks in water, let cool, and use as a mild disinfecting face-wash.
Cinnamon is best known for it’s “warming” quality. Add a few drops of cinnamon oil to a bath, or combine with a carrier-oil (such as Sweet Almond Oil, my favorite!) to use as a massage oil on strained and sore muscles, to alleviate menstrual cramps, and to ease joint stiffness and symptoms of arthritis.
The nutrient Manganese is one of the human body’s primary building-blocks- it’s a significant part of blood, bone, and connective tissues like tendons. High levels of Manganese in Ceylon cinnamon make it an excellent resource for bone and joint health, circulatory health, and easing menstrual symptoms.
Looking to incorporate more cinnamon in your diet?
Check out these recipes we’ve collected!
Fried Plantains with Cinnamon
Although plantains can be eaten at any stage of ripeness, you might want to be patient and let them ripen for this recipe- they’re sweeter and less starchy than the fresher ones!
For 2 servings, you will need:
- 2 ripe plantains
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- sea salt, to taste
1) Cut the plantains into 1/4″ rounds
2) Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high and add the coconut oil.
3) Fry the plantains until golden brown (approximately 2-3 minutes each side). They will burn easily, so be careful!
4) Remove from heat, dust with cinnamon and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Also try drizzling with honey! Try locally-sourced organic honey for an extra allergy-fighting boost (not to mention the additional sweet-tooth fix)!
Roasted Cauliflower with Tumeric and Cinnamon
This side-dish boasts not one but two herbs with noteworthy health benefits! (Don’t worry, we’ll be talking about Tumeric in the very near future.)
To serve 4, you will need:
- 1 head of Cauliflower, chopped
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (ground)
- 1 tsp tumeric powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2) Melt the butter and oil, and set aside.
3) Mix the cinnamon, turmeric, and salt together. Set aside.
4) Chop the cauliflower into large chunks. (Aim for bite size – about 2 inches or smaller.)
5) Pour the melted oil/ghee mixture over the cauliflower, and toss until coated evenly.
6) Sprinkle the spice and salt mixture over the cauliflower, and toss until coated evenly.
7) Place in oven uncovered for about 20-25 minutes (upper middle rack).
8) Remove when tender or a bit of browning occurs.
PLEASE NOTE: Tumeric stains everything yellow- not unlike mustard- including mixing bowls and fingers. Be careful!
Everybody hates a break-out.
Take advantage of cinnamon’s numerous benefits
with this acne-treating DIY face-scrub.
Acne is a fact of life; we all get a pimple from time to time. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it. This DIY face-scrub brings together some of the most hard-hitting natural acne-fighters into one break-out banishing mix.
HONEY (½ cup, raw organic for best results)
Anti-bacterial and humectant (moisturizes skin)
BAKING SODA (¼ cup)
CINNAMON (2 teaspoons, Ceylon or “true cinnamon” for best results)
Anti-bacterial/antiseptic, stimulates circulation
LEMON ESSENTIAL OIL (5 drops)
Astringent, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory
In a mixing bowl, combine the honey, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix until they form a thick paste. Add the essential oil drops and mix well. Store in a container with a tight lid.
When using, wet face with warm water. Apply scrub and rub in small circles. Rinse with warm water.
So what is your favorite way to add cinnamon into your health routine or recipes?