Cinnamon, what is it?
The spice comes from the inner bark of a small evergreen tree. The bark is peeled and laid in the sun to dry where it curls up into rolls known as cinnamon sticks. Cinnamon can also be ground into a powder and contains an oil called: cinnamonaldehyde. The oil gives cinnamon its flavour and odour and it contains medicinal properties. It has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine.
Cinnamon, why is it healthy?
Next to being very nice, cinnamon can be used in savoury and sweet dishes and has many health benefits.
- Cinnamon activates digestion and the burning of fat causing weight loss. This only works if you adjust your eating habits. You can’t just eat anything you want and hope that cinnamon will make you lose weight.
- It is a healthy sugar replacement because of it sweet taste.
- It is an antioxidant and protects against damage of free radicals. Antioxidants play a role in the prevention of ageing, repair of damaged cells and activating enzymes.
- It is a preservative; when added to food it stays better for longer.
- Cinnamon works as an anti-inflammatory and is therefore a natural antibiotic. It fights infections especially with a sensitive gut, laryngitis or colds. In case of tooth inflammation, bladder infection and arthritis, cinnamon can also be beneficial.
- It can help cardiovascular diseases because it prevents the clogging of heart vessels. That silting up occurs because the body itself produces cholesterol during inflammation. Because cinnamon has an anti-inflammatory effect, it also helps prevent elevated cholesterol.
- Can help prevent brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Inflammation can spill over to the brain, which can cause such diseases. Cinnamon helps to prevent this. In addition, there is a protein called TAU, which can accumulate in the brain. That accumulation of Tau is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. Cinnamon prevents accumulation of the TAU protein in the brain.
- Against bad breath. You can dissolve a little cinnamon in water and gargle with it. You should add honey, but that is a fructose. You better not get too much of that.
- Inhibits the growth of fungi, e.g. in candida. The substance cinnamon aldehyde in particular is responsible for the inhibition of fungi.
ore reasons to use cinnamon regularly.
- It can help prevent bacterial growth, including E-coli.
- It can help regulate blood sugar levels, which results in a slower absorption of carbohydrates. As a result, you have less appetite for snacking and sweets.
- In addition, it can help against insulin resistance. I.R. can be a precursor to diabetes. Cinnamon is not a substitute for insulin but helps to regulate blood sugar levels and thereby prevent diabetes type 2.
- It makes you feel full. It has a fragrant, slightly sweet taste and by adding cinnamon, you need less sugar.
- It can prevent emotional eating as it has something comforting. If it is cold and windy outside, it might avoid binge eating by spoiling yourself with a delicious cinnamon drink.
- Helps prevent bowel problems: especially flatulence and diarrhea.
- It can be used for stomach pain.
- And with menstrual complaints.
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- Cinnamon is immune-boosting.
- It helps to warm you up, especially with chronic cold hands and feet.
- Promotes vitality.
- Helps against coughing, colds and fever.
Which forms of cinnamon are there?
In terms of form you have powder and sticks. Depending on your recipe and the dish you want to make, you choose either powder or sticks. The advantage of powder is that you can add it directly to the food and use it immediately. Don’t add it before cooking as it can give the dish a bitter taste. Use sticks when the food has to simmer for a long time. Furthermore, an advantage of sticks is that it only gives off smell and taste and does not make the dish brown in colour which will happen with cinnamon powder.
What types of cinnamon are there?
There are 2 types: Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon. Both have health promoting properties. The reason why it is better to choose for Ceylon is because the Cassia version contains a toxic substance called coumarin. This substance becomes harmful when using 1 to 2 tsp a day. It has a huge blood thinning effect and can therefore inhibit blood clotting. Ceylon cinnamon has this substance too but to a much lesser extent. Ceylon cinnamon is much softer and more fragrant than Cassia cinnamon. Do you remember how the kitchen used to smell like cinnamon when your grandmother had baked apple pie? She definitely used Ceylon cinnamon because if you bake apple pie with cassia cinnamon, it does not smell as good.
Is the organic version always okay?
A while ago I bought cinnamon sticks from an organic brand. When I opened the packet I saw to my surprise that is was Cassia cinnamon. So organic is not always better. It is better to buy non organic Ceylon than organic Cassia. On the picture below you can see Cassia on the left and Ceylon on the right. The difference is structure is clear; Ceylon is rolled up much more and is finer while the Cassia is much thicker and coarse. You can easily make powder yourself by grinding a stick of Ceylon cinnamon in your food processor. When you buy the powder you can’t see which cinnamon it is. To be safe grind it yourself.
Are you wondering how you can have a teaspoon of cinnamon on a daily basis? It is very simple. Find below a recipe for mug cake, sprinkle it over cooked apples or cappuccino, or put it in a cake or apple pie. Plenty of ways to get your daily cinnamon fix!
Serves 1 for breakfast or lunch
What do you need?
- 1 large, organic free range egg, beaten
- 20g gluten free oats or buckwheat flakes
- ½ a ripe banana
- Pinch of ground Ceylon cinnamon
- Little vanilla powder
How do you make it?
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4.
- In a bowl mash the banana with a fork.
- Whisk the egg and add to the banana.
- Add the oats or buckwheat flakes, the cinnamon and vanilla powder.
- Mix well and pour the mixture into a small oven proof dish or mug.
- Place the dish or mug in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the cake has risen.
To better Health,