History of Cinnamon
Cinnamon has been harvested from the inner bark of trees called Cinnamomum trees for thousands of years.
The use of cinnamon dates back as far as 4,000 years ago to Ancient Egypt.
Cinnamon was considered a very valuable and rare spice at this time. Frequently being sold at very high costs and given to royalty as gifts or signs of devotion.
Cinnamon was also mentioned in the Bible numerous times and was noted for its ability to fight illnesses.
People have learned more about the health benefits of cinnamon as time has gone on.
With research now backing up the medicinal claims of cinnamon that ancient populations have known about for centuries.
Today, cinnamon as we know it is made by cutting the stems of the cinnamomum tree and removing the inner bark, which curls up into cinnamon sticks.
These sticks are then ground to make powdery cinnamon spice which is sold and used across the world.
The health benefits of cinnamon can also be obtained in cinnamon extract form.
When its special compounds are isolated and concentrated into high doses that have powerful effects on health.
Another use for cinnamon is in cinnamon essential oil, which contains high levels of cinnamon’s special compounds and has numerous uses.
7 Proven Health Benefits of Cinnamon
1. Cinnamon Nutrition may help treat Type 2 diabetes.
While it’s true that there’s no cure for Type 2 diabetes, cinnamon can be an effective tool in managing the disease.
According to Lori Kenyon Farley, a Certified Nutrition Consultant specializing in wellness, fitness and anti-aging and one of the experts behind Project Juice, cinnamon can help manage this disease in two different ways.
“It can reduce blood pressure and have a positive effect on blood markers for those with Type 2 diabetes,” she explains.
Cinnamon can also reduce insulin resistance, which, Farley explains, “has been shown to lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 29%.
Which can reduce the instance of Type 2 diabetes.”
Shane Ellison, MS, a medicinal chemist and founder of the Sugar Detox, explains how exactly this works.
“(Cinnamon) works directly on the muscle cells to force them to remove sugar from the bloodstream, where it is converted to energy,” he says. “It’s even shown to work better than most prescription meds.”
The key is in increasing insulin sensitivity in the body, a sensitivity that. While present at birth for those without type 1 diabetes, slowly decreases as we age and consume more sugar.
As a result, sugar floats around in the blood, causing diabetes and other health problems. “Cinnamon, which is completely non-toxic.
Repairs the receptors so they are once again responsive to insulin,” Ellison explains. “In time, sugar levels normalize due to an increase in insulin sensitivity.”
Add to this the fact that cinnamon has a naturally sweet taste that is devoid of sugar, making it a great addition to foods like plain yogurt as a dessert or snack.
And you’ll soon see why we suggest it as a staple for the pantries of those with Type 2 diabetes.
2. Cinnamon Nutrition can lower your bad cholesterol (or LDL).
Even if you do not suffer from diabetes, you may want to include cinnamon in your diet for many of the same reasons as those who do.
As Carina Parikh, MScN, MSiMR, the holistic nutritionist for Kate Naumes ND Holistic Wellness in Dallas explains, the positive impact on Type 2 diabetes symptoms is due to a number of factors.
Notably “improving serum glucose, lowering fasting blood glucose, and reducing triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.”
These are all benefits that can help even those not suffering from diabetes, including those with hereditary cholesterol worries or problems.
“(Cinnamon) also raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol,” she explains. HDL cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from the body.
And that’s not all. “Regular intake of cinnamon may also help to mitigate the effects of high-fat meals by slowing the increase in blood sugar post-meal,” says Parikh.
This means that when cinnamon is added to your diet, the effects of occasional high-fat choices may not be quite as detrimental to your health as they would otherwise be.
3. Cinnamon Nutrition has antifungal, antibacterial, and even antiviral properties.
Cinnamon has been proven to fight fungal, bacterial, and viral elements in foods, thus preventing spoilage.
It’s no surprise that in the Middle Ages, when food spoilage was far more frequent due to lack of refrigeration, many recipes, both sweet and savory, were flavored with the spice.
But these properties of cinnamon do not extend merely to the foods cinnamon seasons.
Consumers of cinnamon can benefit from these properties as well, according to our experts.
Who say cinnamon can be used as part of a treatment for anything from lung problems to the common cold.
Denise Baron, a wellness educator and director of Ayurveda for Modern Living explains that cinnamon can help with all sorts of lung congestion issues.
“It helps clear up mucus and encourages circulation,” she explains, thus lending its powers to everything from a simple seasonal cough to bronchitis, when used in tandem with other remedies.
But perhaps the most surprising use of cinnamon is in combatting viruses, and not just the common cold.
“Research shows that cinnamon extract may help fight the HIV virus by preventing the virus from entering cells,” says Parikh. “Therefore, cinnamon extract could potentially contribute to the management of HIV.”
4. Cinnamon Nutrition can help treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are two neurological conditions that, for the moment, are incurable.
An enormous part of treating these diseases is therefore in symptom management, and this can be boosted with the addition of cinnamon to a regular regime.
“Cinnamon has been shown to help neurons and improve motor function in those suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s,” explains Farley.
These contributions can help sufferers of these two diseases continue their regular routines with far less impediment.
5. Cinnamon Nutrition may have anti-carcinogenic properties.
Many superfoods are attributed with anti-carcinogenic properties, but it’s important not to jump from super food to super power.
Parikh explains why it’s important not to get carried away.
“Evidence suggests that cinnamon may have anti-carcinogenic effects as well, although the research thus far is limited to animal studies,” she says. “These experiments demonstrate that cinnamon extract slows the growth of cancer cells and induces cancerous cell death.”
If these properties do extend to humans, then cinnamon may in fact be able to slow growth and kill cancerous cells.
And even if these properties do not extend to a cure or treatment for cancer in humans, other characteristics of cinnamon, including the presence of antioxidants and free radicals.
Can contribute to its possible anti-carcinogenic effects.
6. Cinnamon Nutrition has anti-inflammatory properties.
Consumption of cinnamon can reduce both systemic and specific inflammation. The former is particularly important in the Western world, according to Parekh.
She says that in the West, “Systemic inflammation is a prominent problem that has led to the rise in chronic disease.”
By adding cinnamon to a regular diet, this systemic inflammation can be reduced significantly.”
Specific inflammation reduction means that consumption of cinnamon can help treat certain types of pain and headaches, as well as arthritis pain.
It plays a double role in this particular type of pain, according to Baron, as cinnamon can also boost circulation. “With circulation problems such as Raynaud’s syndrome or arthritis, this helps stimulate and push circulation to the joints,” she explains.
7. Cinnamon Nutrition can help manage PCOS.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a problem with numerous symptoms that need to be managed, and cinnamon can be a key element of this management due to a number of characteristics.
First would be the management of insulin resistance in women with PCOS, which can contribute to weight gain. “A recent pilot study found that cinnamon reduced insulin resistance in women with PCOS,” explains Parekh, extending cinnamon’s recommended consumption from diabetes sufferers to anyone with an insulin resistance problem.
“Cinnamon can also help mitigate heavy menstrual bleeding associated with common conditions of female health, such as endometriosis, menorrhagia, and uterine fibroids.”
It’s possible we’re just brushing the surface here. After all, Chinese medicine and Ayurveda have long revered cinnamon for its near superpowers.
Using it to treat things such as colds, indigestion and cramps, not to mention for its anti-clotting properties as well as attributes for cognitive function and memory.
These societies also believed cinnamon could improve energy, vitality and circulation. It’s no wonder we’ve dubbed it a superfood!
Cinnamon Nutrition Profile
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ten grams of ground cinnamon contains:
- Energy: 24.7 kcal
- Fat: 0.12 g
- Carbohydrates: 8.06 g
- Protein: 0.4 g.
Risks and precautions
Some people who are sensitive to cinnamon may be at an increased risk of liver damage after consuming cinnamon-flavored foods, drinks and food supplements.
This is likely due to the fact that cinnamon contains coumarin, a naturally occurring flavoring substance, which has been linked to liver damage.
Cassia cinnamon powder (commonly used in foods in the USA and Western Europe) contains more coumarin than Ceylan cinnamon powder.
A 2010 German study found that on average, Cassia cinnamon powder had up to 63 times more coumarin compared to Ceylon cinnamon powder.
While Cassia cinnamon sticks contained 18 times more coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon sticks.
How much cinnamon should I eat?
A study carried out in Norway and published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2012 suggested establishing a Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) for coumarin of 0.07mg per kg of bodyweight per day.
The researchers commented that by sprinkling cinnamon on oatmeal porridge or drinking cinnamon-based tea regularly, adults and children can very easily exceed this amount.
Based upon the conclusion of this study, if the average weight of an American male is 191 pounds (86.6kg), it could mean a maximum Tolerable Daily Intake of 6mg of coumarin.
For an average American female (159 pounds or 72.1kg) it could mean a maximum of 5mg of coumarin per day.
In a document published in 2006, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BFR) suggested that 1kg of (cassia) cinnamon powder contains between 2.1 and 4.4g of coumarin.
If you estimate that powdered cassia cinnamon weighs approximately 0.56 g/cm3, a kilo of cassia cinnamon powder would equal 362.29 teaspoons.
This suggests that a single teaspoon of cassia cinnamon powder could contain between 5.8 and 12.1mg of coumarin (which may be above the Tolerable Daily Intake for a smaller individual).
Cinnamon for Brain Health
In addition to potentially boosting cognitive function, cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin, two compounds found in cinnamon.
Have an inhibitory effect on the aggregation of a particular protein called tau. Tau plays a large role in the structure and function of neurons.
But while a normal part of cell structures, this protein can begin to accumulate, forming “neurofibrillary tangles” that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
Both compounds were found to protect tau from oxidative damage that can lead to dysfunction.
It’s interesting to note that there’s a high correlation between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Some even believe Alzheimer’s may be a form of brain diabetes.
Insulin and insulin receptors in your brain are crucial for learning and memory. And it’s known that these components are lower in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Cinnamon Streusel Muffins
- 250g plain flour
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 75ml vegetable oil
- 125ml orange juice
- 125ml buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons dark brown soft sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons plain flour
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 30g butter, softened
- Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin or line with paper cases.
- In a medium bowl, stir together 250g flour, 150g caster sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, orange juice, buttermilk, vanilla and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just blended. Some lumps are okay.
- Fill the prepared muffin holes halfway with the batter. Combine the dark brown soft sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon; sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture onto each half-full muffin hole. Spoon batter over the cinnamon mixture so that the muffin holes are 2/3 full.
- In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 14 tablespoons flour, 4 tablespoons caster sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and the butter to make a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle this generously over the tops of the muffin batter.
- Bake for 20 to 22 minutes in the preheated oven, until a skewer inserted into the crown of a muffin, comes out clean. Cool in the tin over a wire rack.