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Monday, August 3, 2020

Cinnamon: 10 Amazing Health Benefits

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Cinnamon is a healthy and very delicious spice used for cooking and baking around the world. So many people have praised cinnamon for its medicinal properties for centuries.

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However, modern science has finally supported what people have known about this spice for ages. Just in case you haven’t been using cinnamon, this article features ten amazing benefits you can derive from using it in your cooking.

The ten health benefits of cinnamon shared here are all supported by scientific research.

1. Cinnamon has a very high content of a Substance with potent medicinal properties

Cinnamon is a popular natural spice that is made from the inner bark of trees  scientifically called Cinnamomum.

Cinnamon is not one of those spices that was recently discovered as it has been used as a cooking ingredient for hundreds of years, dating as far back as Ancient Egypt. In the past, cinnamon was considered valuable because of its rarity at the time and was even regarded as a gift good enough for kings.

Today, the cinnamon story has changed, as it is cheap and available in every local market or supermarket. It is no longer considered a  precious gift as it is found as an ingredient in a wide range of foods and recipes.

There are two major types of cinnamon:

  • Ceylon cinnamon: Also popularly called the “true” cinnamon.
  • Cassia cinnamon: The widespread variety of cinnamon in today’s market and what the majority of people generally refer to as “cinnamon.”

If you are wondering how cinnamon is made, it is a simple process of cutting the stems of cinnamon trees. Once the stems are cut, the inner bark of is then scraped out, and the woody parts separated.

When the under back dries up, it forms strips that naturally curl into rolls, known as cinnamon sticks. These cinnamon sticks can be ground to powder form and sold or used as cinnamon powder.

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Cinnamon has an attractive smell and flavor of cinnamon that is unique. The scent and flavor are due to the oily part of the tree, which it has a high content of the compound called cinnamaldehyde.

Scientists are led to believe that this medicinal compound is responsible for most of the powerful effects cinnamon has on health and metabolism.

2. Cinnamon Is packed full With Antioxidants

Antioxidants offer protection to the human body from the damaging effects of free radical activities.

Cinnamon is packed full of powerful antioxidants, like polyphenols.

In a study carried out to compare the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, it was discovered that cinnamon was the most potent, even outranking “superfoods” such as oregano and garlic.

In fact, cinnamon is so powerful that some people use it as a natural food preservative

3. Cinnamon posses Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is not entirely a bad thing.

While it’s not something we look forward to having, It helps the body fight off infections and also repairs tissue damage.

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However, we can consider inflammation a problem when it becomes chronic and is directed against a person’s own body’s tissues.

Cinnamon may be of use in this regard. Research has shown that cinnamon and the antioxidants it contains have potent anti-inflammatory properties.

4. Cinnamon May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

Cinnamon has been connected to a reduced risk of heart conditions and diseases, and this is known to be the world’s most common cause of untimely death.

In individuals who have type 2 diabetes, 1 gram or half a teaspoon of cinnamon every day has been discovered to have beneficial effects on blood markers.

Cinnamon reduces levels of total cholesterol in your body, “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides, while “good” HDL cholesterol remains stable.

More recently, a review study recently conducted concluded that a dose of cinnamon of just 120 mg a day can have the above effects. In this study, it was also revealed that cinnamon increased “good” HDL cholesterol levels.

Also, in animal studies, it has been revealed that cinnamon reduces blood pressure.

When put together, all the factors mentioned may help to cut your risk of heart conditions drastically.

5. Cinnamon Can also Improve Sensitivity to Insulin

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Insulin is one of the primary hormones that help regulate metabolism and the use of energy.

Insulin is also vital for the transportation of blood sugar from the bloodstream to cells. The issue, however, is that a lot of people are resistant to the effects of this hormone.

This is a condition known as insulin resistance, and insulin resistance is a hallmark of severe medical conditions such as type two diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

However, the good news about cinnamon is that it can help to reduce insulin resistance dramatically, helping this essential hormone do its job.

Cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity.

6. Cinnamon helps to Reduce Blood Sugar Levels and also has a robust Anti-Diabetic Effect

Cinnamon is quite famous for its blood-sugar-lowering qualities. Asides the beneficial effects of cinnamon on insulin resistance, it can help to lower blood sugar through several other mechanisms.

First of all, cinnamon has been discovered to lessen the amount of glucose that goes into your bloodstream after every meal.

It can do this by interfering with a wide range of digestive enzymes, which slows down the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gastrointestinal tract.

Second, there is a compound in cinnamon that can act on cells by behaving like insulin. This improves the uptake of glucose by your cells to a large extent, though it acts a lot slower than insulin itself.

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Several human studies have revealed that cinnamon indeed has anti-diabetic effects, showing that it can reduce fasting blood sugar levels by 10–29%.

The effective dose of cinnamon is typically 1–6 grams per day, or around 0.5–2 teaspoons daily.

7. Cinnamon May Have useful Effects on Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases lead to progressive loss of structure or function of a person’s brain cells. Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s are two of the most popular types of Neurodegenerative diseases.

Two compounds that are found in cinnamon appear to hinder the buildup of a protein known as tau in the brain, and this is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. That is great, but there’s more.

In a study carried out on mice that had Parkinson’s disease, cinnamon was helpful with the protection of neurons, normalizing neurotransmitter levels, and also help with improving motor function.

These effects are promising, but they need to be studied even more in humans.

8. Cinnamon May Protect the body Against Cancer

Cancer is a severe disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth. Cinnamon has been studied widely for its potential use in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Overall, the available evidence is limited to animal and test-tube studies, which suggests that cinnamon extracts can protect against cancer.

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Cinnamon acts by causing a reduction in the growth of cancer cells as well as the formation of blood vessels in tumors, and it also appears to be toxic to cancer cells, making them die.

A study in mice with colon cancer revealed that cinnamon is an excellent activator of detoxifying enzymes in the colon, as it protects against further cancer growth.

These findings were backed with test-tube experiments, which revealed that cinnamon is capable of activating protective antioxidant responses in the human colon cells.

However, there is a need for confirmation of whether or not cinnamon has any effect on living, breathing humans.

9. Cinnamon can Help Fight Bacterial and Fungal Infections

Cinnamaldehyde, which is one of the primary active components of cinnamon, may help to fight against different kinds of infection.

Also, Cinnamon oil has been revealed to be an effective treatment for respiratory tract infections caused by fungi. Cinnamon can also inhibit the growth of some bacteria, like Listeria and Salmonella.

However, the evidence available is very limited, and cinnamon has so far not been shown to lessen infections elsewhere in the human body.

Also, the antimicrobial effects of this spice may help reduce bad breath and prevent tooth decay.

10. Cinnamon May Help Fight the HIV Virus

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HIV is one of the most feared viruses. It slowly breaks down a patient’s immune system, which may eventually lead to AIDS, if left untreated.

It is believed that cinnamon gotten from Cassia varieties is helpful to fight against HIV-1, which is the most common strain of the virus in humans

A laboratory study focused on HIV-infected cells revealed that cinnamon stood as the most effective treatment of the 69 medicinal plants tested.

There is a need for human trials to confirm these alleged effects.

Is It Better to Use Ceylon (“True” Cinnamon)?

Like we have hinted at the beginning of this article, not all cinnamon is made equal.

The Cassia variety of cinnamon contains high amounts of a compound known as coumarin, which can be harmful if consumed in large doses.

All cinnamon are supposed to have excellent health benefits, but if taken in large quantities, Cassia may cause problems due to its coumarin content.

Ceylon (“true” cinnamon) is a better variety in this regard, and several studies have shown that it has a much lower coumarin content than the Cassia variety.

Unfortunately, most of the cinnamon sold in supermarkets is not the Ceylon, but the Cassia variety, which is cheaper.

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We hope this article has been helpful. Please leave a comment below.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

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