The aroma of cinnamon is warm and calming, causing visions of hot cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven. It is commonly used in desserts like churros or french toast and hot beverages like mulled wine, apple cider, teas, and lattes. Additionally, cinnamon is responsible for making meat more savour. It is a key spice in the following dishes:
- Middle eastern chicken shawarma
- Moroccan chicken
- Lamb tagine
- Rice pilafs or indian biryani
- Butter chicken
- Greek braised chicken kapama
- Beef chilli and is a key ingredient in jerk seasoning.
Cinnamons history dates back to ancient egypt where It’s high value and scarcity made it desired by royalty. 350g of cinnamon was equal to the value of over five kilograms of silver. Currently cinnamon is affordable and available at every grocery store.
The spice comes from the inner bark of a small evergreen tree. The bark is peeled and dried in the sun where it curls up to become cinnamon sticks. There are two types of cinnamon: Ceylon and Cassia. Ceylon is known as the true cinnamon. It is more expensive and less toxic to the liver because of its lower coumarin levels, a blood thinning compound1. Conversely, the Cassia variety is more common and affordable but has higher levels of coumarin1. Restaurants use the Cassia variety while most grocery stores sell it. The blended varieties of cinnamon is usually a mixture of both types of cinnamon. To summarize, if you are looking to increase your cinamon levels, look for Ceylon cinnamon because it is safer at higher dosages.
Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Antioxidants are the molecules that fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals are compounds that cause harm if their levels become too high. high levels of free radicals are dangerous because they increase risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer2. A study that compared the antioxidant levels of 26 spices showed that cinnamon had the highest levels3.
Inflammation is your bodies response to injury or infection to help with the healing process. Inflammation of the joints, including stiffness or swelling, are the painful symptoms of arthritis. Studies show that the antioxidants found in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory agents that ease swelling4.
Improves Gut Health and Relieves Discomfort
Historically, cinnamon was used to treat both GI and cardiovascular disease. Cinnamon has prebiotic properties that supports healthy gut bacteria5. Additionally, the spice has high levels of cinnamaldehyde which prevents the growth of bad bacteria including E. coli and Salmonella6. Finally, cinnamon oil alleviates flatulence and digestive imbalances7.
Lowers Blood Pressure and Strengthens Heart
Blood pressure is the measure of the force that blood exerts against the walls of your arteries. When you have high blood pressure, your body has to work harder than normal to pump blood. Studies show that taking cinnamon helps to reduce your systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 6.2mm HG and 3.9 mm HG, respectively8. Additionally, studies show that cinnamon can reduce the risk of heart disease9. Cinnamaldehyde is the component in cinnamon that has the protective effects for the cardiovascular system9.
Protects Against Cancer
Cinnamon has been studied for its cancer prevention and treatment abilities. Cancer is the name given to a family of related diseases. In all types of cancer, the body’s cells begin to divide excessively and spread into the surrounding tissues. Studies show that cinnamon helps reduce the growth of cancer cells and restricts the flow of blood to the tumors10. Additionally, it appears to be toxic to cancer cells causing cell death.
Cinnamon contains low levels of protein and fat. Therefore it won’t play a big role in your overall nutrition. It has small amounts of vitamins and minerals that are important for your overall health. A teaspoon of Cinnamon contains the following11:
- 6 calories
- 0.1g of protein
- 0.03g of fat
- 2g of carbohydrates
- 1g of fiber
- 26mg of calcium
- 11mg of potassium
- 3mcg of beta-carotene
- 8 IU of Vitamin A
Cinnamon is one of the most delicious and healthiest spices on the planet. To summarize, It reduces the risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, improves gut health, and has cancer fighting attributes. If you are looking to increase your cinnamon intake, use the Ceylon variety due to its lower risk. It is easy to increase the cinnamon in your diet. You can use it to season your meats or simply add it to your everyday drinks like coffee. Earl grey and chai teas have cinnamon as a key ingredient.
- Cassia Cinnamon as a Source of Coumarin in Cinnamon-Flavored Food and Food Supplements in the United States. Acs.org. Published 2013. Accessed December 31, 2020. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf4005862
- Pierce JD, Cackler AB, Arnett MG. Why should you care about free radicals? Because these molecules appear to play a role in the development of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases. Understanding how free radicals form and what you can do to help keep them in balance is essential to maximizing the care you provide now–and in the future. RN. 2020;67(1):38-44. Accessed December 31, 2020. https://go.gale.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA112862262&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=00337021&p=AONE&sw=w
- Shan B, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H. Antioxidant Capacity of 26 Spice Extracts and Characterization of Their Phenolic Constituents. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2005;53(20):7749-7759. doi:10.1021/jf051513y
- Shen Y, Jia L-N, Honma N, Hosono T, Ariga T, Seki T. Beneficial Effects of Cinnamon on the Metabolic Syndrome, Inflammation, and Pain, and Mechanisms Underlying These Effects – A Review. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 2012;2(1):27-32. doi:10.1016/s2225-4110(16)30067-0
- Lu Q-Y, Summanen PH, Lee R-P, et al. Prebiotic Potential and Chemical Composition of Seven Culinary Spice Extracts. Journal of Food Science. 2017;82(8):1807-1813. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.13792
- Paudel SK, Bhargava K, Kotturi H. Antimicrobial activity of cinnamon oil nanoemulsion against Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella spp. on melons. LWT. 2019;111:682-687. doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2019.05.087
- Heydarpour F, Hemati N, Hadi A, Moradi S, Mohammadi E, Farzaei MH. Effects of cinnamon on controlling metabolic parameters of polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2020;254:112741. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2020.112741
- Gilani AH, Jabeen Q, Khan A, Shah AJ. Gut modulatory, blood pressure lowering, diuretic and sedative activities of cardamom. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2008;115(3):463-472. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.10.015
- Hariri M, Ghiasvand R. Cinnamon and Chronic Diseases. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. Published online 2016:1-24. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-41342-6_1
- Sadeghi S, Davoodvandi A, Pourhanifeh MH, et al. Anti-cancer effects of cinnamon: Insights into its apoptosis effects. European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 2019;178:131-140. doi:10.1016/j.ejmech.2019.05.067
- FoodData Central. Usda.gov. Published 2020. Accessed December 31, 2020. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171320/nutrients