Cinnamon is one of the spices we use to add distinct taste to our meals plus it gives a pleasant aroma that makes the food more attractive. This spice is produced from the branch of the “Cinnamomum” tree which is mostly found in the Caribbean countries and the regions of South America and several countries from Southeast Asia. The barks of the cinnamomum tree are extracted to create this wonderful spice that is also known to provide great health benefits when consumed on a regular basis.
There are two forms of cinnamon—the one they referred to as “true cinnamon which is the Ceylon cinnamon, and the other one which is less expensive, the Chinese cinnamon or Cassia cinnamon. The Ceylon cinnamon is quite expensive in terms of pricing because of its quality and cultivation process that is why the most commonly used cinnamon in breads and other food products bought commercially is the Cassia cinnamon. Some of the differences between these two are the texture and the levels of coumarin, a blood-thinning agent found in this spice. The texture of the Cassia cinnamon is harder and the wood texture is much more prominent because it uses the whole bark compared to the Ceylon cinnamon that uses only the inner bark so the texture is finer and less dense. The levels of coumarin in Ceylon cinnamon are lower compared to that of Cassia.
Both kinds of cinnamon provide the same aromatic and flavorful vibe on the dishes being cooked with it. This aroma and flavor actually comes from the 1% oil compounds. Dried cinnamon barks are the ones used for spice but you can also make essential oil from it by pounding the bark and using sea water to macerate it. After that, the macerated pounded bark had to pass through distillation process. To preserve the oil for aromatherapy use, other chemicals are combined.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Aside from its aroma and flavorful kick on the dishes, this spice also promises a lot of health benefits. These benefits has been used and tested for centuries already. Certain body conditions had been treated by regular but monitored use of this spice. Modern research also helped in discovering new horizons where cinnamon can be used. Improvements have also been made accordingly to utilize this flavorful spice to work effectively in treating certain diseases and providing us with overall good health and well-being. Below is the list of health benefits you can get from cinnamon.
1. Helps prevent heart disease
Consuming this flavorful and aromatic spice reduces the risk factors leading to several heart ailments such as high levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure, and increasing levels of triglyceride. The blood-thinning agent present in cinnamon works in making sure that the proper blood level is maintained. High blood levels can cause stroke and heart attacks. The unique compounds also help in reducing the bad cholesterol and triglycerides but still keeping the good cholesterol needed by the body intact.
The contents of this spice absorbed by the body can also help in forming blood clots when needed like when there is profuse bleeding during accidents. Consuming adequate amounts of this flavorful spice promotes proper blood circulation and increase in blood flow to help the organs and tissues of the body to function better and to restore damages including regeneration of heart tissues.
2. Great source of anti-oxidants
We all know how helpful anti-oxidants are in protecting our body by reducing and shielding us from the damages caused by the free radicals. Free radicals are associated with premature aging that is why consuming recommended dose of this spice will help us in slowing the aging process and gives us a more youthful glow. According to research, there are currently 41 compounds found in this spice that protect us from these free radicals. This also makes cinnamon the top 7 herbs and spices that gives us the best quality and quantity of anti-oxidants.
Aside from fighting premature aging, antioxidants also help in fighting oxidative stress and stress-related diseases by limiting the formation of nitric oxide in the blood as well as fats or lipid peroxidation that causes our body to incur fatal health conditions like cancer, heart diseases, and brain damages.
3. Combatting diabetes
One of the effects of cinnamon is to lower the levels of blood sugar and helps a person susceptible to diabetes to improve his or her sensitivity to insulin. It helps in a way to reduce insulin resistance but at the same time preventing the conditions related to it such as weight gain and related metabolic diseases. Insulin is the hormone that plays a great role in keeping the balance of the blood sugar levels.
Cinnamon blocks alanines, which is the known enzymes that allows the blood to absorb sugar in the form of glucose. It performs in a way that the amount of glucose entering the bloodstream is reduced right after consuming a high-sugar meal.
This spice could be very helpful even for people with Type 2 diabetes. Though Type 2 diabetes can be hard to cure, eating cinnamon combined with a healthy and balanced diet could be a great way to maintain sugar blood levels and prevent other related diseases from taking place, such as heart diseases and bad cholesterols.
4. Protects the brain and defends against cognitive decline
Based on scientific researches, the protective anti-oxidant compounds present in cinnamon can give your brain the kind of defense against the development of certain neurological diseases particularly Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The nutrients in cinnamon when absorbed by the system protects the brain’s health and its cognitive functions because it activates the needed proteins that keeps the brain cells protected from undergoing certain damages and from cell mutations. It additionally stops the cells from transforming and from self-destructing thus, decreases the bad effects of oxidative stress.
5. Combats viruses and infections
Aside from antioxidants, cinnamon also contains natural antibiotics, antiviral, and antifungal compounds that help the body protects itself from certain illnesses. Moreover, the compounds available in the essential oils of the cinnamon also help boost the immune system. Regular consumption through the food we eat of from infused cinnamon tea can easily prevent and cure cough and colds, fever, and some common air-born diseases.
For centuries, cinnamon has been proven effective in fighting certain strains of virus and infections that is why it was regarded as one of the most expensive spices from way back. Aside from fighting bacteria, the nutrients you can get from it also help protect the organs and systems from the negative symptoms of these diseases.
6. Helps Protect from HIV
There are some researches that back up the use of cinnamon in fighting some strains of the HIV virus. As we all know, once HIV is not addressed properly, it could quickly generate and lead to AIDS.
The cinnamon extracted from the barks of Cassia could help battle HIV-1 which is the most common strain of the virus in humans. Laboratory experimentations show that out of more than 60 plants and herbs gathered to test for HIV cells, the most effective by far is the cinnamon extract. Although there is no evidence yet in actual human treatment, the possibility of cinnamon in fighting this kind of fatal virus can be further looked into and developed.
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