Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum. It has been used for hundreds of years to flavor both sweet and savory foods, but also as folk medicine for different afflictions. Studies conducted in the past years have confirmed the remarkable medical benefits of cinnamon. Here are the five most important of them.
Five Health Benefits of Cinnamon
1. It prevents Alzheimer’s disease
A 2011 study found that a cinnamon extract called CEppt inhibits the formation of the toxic amyloid plaques which cause Alzheimer’s disease. The extract was found to also destroy already existing amyloid plaques, which suggests that it might not just prevent the disease, but also help cure it once it has set it.
2. It has antibacterial properties
Research has shown that cinnamon has strong antibacterial properties, even against some of the most virulent of bacteria. In a study conducted at Kansas University, researchers contaminated apple juice samples with 1 million bacteria from a very infectious strain of E.coli. In the samples in which a teaspoon of cinnamon was added, more than 99% of bacteria were killed.
3. It prevents diabetes
Cinnamon has the ability to reduce insulin resistance and prevent or alleviate type 2 diabetes. A study has demonstrated that people with diabetes who took cinnamon showed a marked reduction in serum levels of triglycerides, cholesterol and glucose. This effect of cinnamon is attributed to a compound called proanthocyanidin, which affects insulin signaling in fat cells.
4. It regulates the menstrual cycle
In a study performed at Columbia University, researchers tested the effects of cinnamon on a group of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). After 6 months, they noticed that the women who received cinnamon had much more regular cycles than the control group. The effect is attributed to the ability of cinnamon to reduce insulin resistance, which can affect hormone levels.
5. It protects against Parkinson’s disease
A 2014 study has shown that sodium benzoate, a substance formed after cinnamon is metabolized by the liver, has the ability to protect the brain against Parkinson’s disease. Mice with Parkinson’s disease which were fed cinnamon showed improved motor function, reduced loss of the proteins Parkin and DJ-1, and better dopamine levels than control mice.
How much should I take?
There are 2 types of cinnamon. Ceylon and Cassia. If you decide to consume more cinnamon for its health benefits, you should opt for the Ceylon type, also known as true cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon can be found in health food stores and online. The less expensive and more easily available Cassia cinnamon is what you will find in the spice section of the grocery store. Cassia cinnamon does have some of the the same health benefits, but it can contain high levels of coumarin, a substance which can cause liver damage if consumed in large amounts.
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) to 1 teaspoon (6 grams) is the recommended daily dose. Most people like the taste of cinnamon but it is also possible to reap the benefits by taking a 500 milligram cinnamon capsule two times per day if you don’t.
Simple ways to include cinnamon in your diet
Most people think of cinnamon as a flavoring for desserts, but there are many simple ways to incorporate it into your diet:
- add it to hot cereal
- sprinkle it on toast
- add it to coffee, tea or hot cocoa
- Place it in peanut butter
- Sprinkle on grapefruit
- Add it to chili
- Mix it in a smoothie
Cinnamon, a spice used for hundreds of years for its amazing flavor, also has scientifically proven medicinal properties. It can prevent and reverse diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Cinnamon tastes great and is easy to add it to your diet. Why would you not want to take advantage of this amazing spice?
What is your favorite healthy way to eat cinnamon? Let me know in the comments below.