What Are The Benefits Of Cinnamon?
It is a favorite holiday spice that we often associate with pies, baked goods, and specialty coffees: cinnamon. Not only is cinnamon a treat for the taste, buds but it turns out that it possesses some powerful healing properties.
In fact, cinnamon has been used around the world for thousands of years in medicinal settings. Even today it’s still consumed in many cultures for its health benefits and can be found in almost every kitchen across America.
The characteristic smell, color, and flavor are due to the oily part of the tree that it grows from: the Cinnamomum verum. The bark of the tree is thought to be where the health benefits come from because it contains several special compounds, including cinnamic acid, cinnamate, and cinnamaldehyde.
The health benefits from cinnamon can be obtained from pure bark, essential oils, bark powder (which is the ground spice version), or in extract form. In these forms the compounds, flavonoids and antioxidants are isolated, giving cinnamon its amazing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, immunity-boosting, and disease-preventing abilities.
The nutritional value of cinnamon is high, as far as spices go. One tablespoon of ground cinnamon will give you:
- Only 9 calories
- No fat or sugar
- 4 grams of fiber
- Manganese, calcium, iron and vitamin K
As little as a half teaspoon daily can have positive effects on your health, including blood sugar levels, immunity, and digestion. The stronger your doses are, the more potential healing power and disease prevention you will receive.
*That said, trying to swallow pure cinnamon powder, ala the “cinnamon challenge,” can be a recipe for disaster and cause vomiting, among other potential health issues.
What Cinnamon Can Do for You
1. Antioxidant Power: Cinnamon contains a number of antioxidants which reduce free radical damage in the body and slow the aging process. These benefits are due to the polyphenols, phenolic acid, and flavonoids, which are like the antioxidants found in “superfoods” such as blueberries.
These powerful compounds fight against oxidative stress, which damages cells and can lead to serious disease when left unchecked. Additionally, the compounds limit nitric oxide build up in the blood and lipid peroxidation which are both involved in brain disorders, heart disease and cancer.
2. Heart Health: Cinnamon has been shown to reduce cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and blood pressure, all of which are related to an increased risk of heart disease. The compounds in this powerful spice can reduce the LDL (bad) cholesterol while the HDL (good) levels remain stable.
The reduction in blood pressure is a major preventative measure against heart attacks and stroke. Cinnamon increases blood circulation, which can advance your tissue’s ability to repair damage, including heart tissue that has been harmed by disease or stroke.
3. Anti-Inflammatory Agent: There are over seven kinds of flavonoid in cinnamon. They act as anti-inflammatory agents and can lower the risks of heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline.
These compounds can fight dangerous inflammation levels that cause serious damage throughout the body. The management of inflammation and swelling allows cinnamon to be used in pain management, and it can even relieve muscle pains, MS symptoms, and age-related aches and soreness.
4. Protects Against Cancer: The antioxidant properties in cinnamon protect against DNA damage, cell mutation, and tumor growth. The compound cinnamaldehyde has been linked to the inhibition of cancer tumor growth and the protection of DNA as well as the encouragement of cell apoptosis (cancer cell self-destruction).
5. Fights Diabetes: Cinnamon has an anti-diabetic effect by lowering blood sugar levels and improving sensitivity to insulin. The benefits arrive by blocking the enzymes called alanines, which allow glucose to be absorbed into the blood.
The addition of this spice to your diet allows you to decrease the amount of glucose entering your blood after a high-sugar meal.
6. Protects Brain Function: There are compounds in cinnamon that protect against neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. They activate neuro-protective proteins that protect brain cells from any mutation or damage.
When cells morph or self-destruct, oxidative damage occurs, which can age the body. This protection against mutation also protects your body from oxidative stress.
7. Skin Benefits: There are anti-microbial and antibiotic properties to cinnamon that make it ideal for the treatment of skin irritations, rashes, and infections. When applied directly as an essential oil, cinnamon can reduce inflammation, swelling, pain, and redness.
When used along with honey, another powerful anti-microbial agent, you get beneficial treatments for acne, rosacea, and several skin allergies.
8. Fights Infection: The essential oils of cinnamon possess strong anti-microbial, antibiotic, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. It is these properties that cause cinnamon to be used in numerous cultures to fight viruses and infections.
These oils have also been discovered to be protective against certain bacteria that cause digestive issues as well as bacteria that can contribute to colds and the flu.
9. Dental Health Benefits: The bacteria-fighting power of cinnamon works very well in your mouth, protecting you from the oral microflora that causes bad breath, tooth decay, and cavities.
The oils, specifically, have been shown to be potent on mouth bacteria over other plant-tested extracts, meaning it can be used as a regular mouthwash. Cinnamon can be used as a natural flavor in chewing gum due to its refreshing abilities and because it can remove bad breath without adding chemicals to your body.
It is no wonder then that cinnamon has long been used to treat toothaches, dental problems, mouth sores and microbiota.
10. Cure Candida Overgrowth: Candida is the yeast that, when overgrown, can cause several digestive problems and autoimmune symptoms. Cinnamon’s anti-fungal properties can stop and even cure Candida overgrowth.
The ability to control blood sugar levels also helps prevent Candida growth because it prevents too much sugar from building up in the digestive tract. Cinnamon is able to fight Candida by boosting the immune system, which fights against inflammation, autoimmune reactions, and yeast that may be in your gut.