Cinnamon is a real feel-good food.
Many of you might know cinnamon’s sweet and warm flavor best from Pumpkin Spice Lattes and warm apple pies, but it’s used for so much more than just sweet treats.
It has been consumed since 2000 BC in Ancient Egypt as a cure for a whole variety of illnesses. Medieval doctors prescribed it for coughs, sore throats and even arthritis.
While modern medicine may not believe in all of cinnamon’s supposed health benefits, more and more studies are showing this spice definitely has healing properties.
According to NutritionData.com one tablespoon contains:
- 19 calories
- 4 g fiber – 16% RDV
- Calcium – 8% RDV
- Iron – 4% RDV
- Manganese – 68% RDV
- No fat
- No cholesterol
While one tablespoon is probably too much, up to a teaspoon a day is a commonly recommended dose. Gram for gram, it still contains a high levels of nutrients when compared with other herbs and spices.
A Rich Source of Manganese
Cinnamon is very high in manganese.
It’s estimated that as many as 37% of Americans don’t get enough of this important mineral in their diet.
That’s a pretty surprising statistic given that manganese can also be found in whole grains, nuts and seeds and leafy vegetables.
I guess it shows how many people choose refined grains and simple carbohydrates over the whole grain, complex carb variety!
Manganese helps our body metabolize fats and carbs, helps the thyroid gland function and produce sex hormones, regulates blood sugar levels and helps form connective tissue.
It’s also necessary for normal brain and nerve function.
Low levels of manganese in the body have been linked to infertility, bone malformation, weakness, and seizures.
It doesn’t just kill fungus, but bacteria too, making cinnamon a great spice to have in the kitchen.
Small amounts of cinnamon have been shown to kill both e-coli and salmonella bacteria.
And, a study on the antibacterial properties of cinnamon against five bacteria that are known to cause food to go off, found that cinnamon stick and its properties may work as an effective food preservative thanks to its ability to kill all five types of bacteria.
A Top Source of Antioxidants
When compared with 25 other herbs and spices, cinnamon outranked them all in terms of antioxidant activity.
Studies have also seen that both cinnamon bark and cinnamon oil increase antioxidant levels in the bodies of rats.
Given that a diet rich in foods with high levels of antioxidants, like cinnamon, is associated with longevity and good health, we should always strive to eat more of these foods.
Cinnamon extracts also help prevent the oxidation of food, hence the term ‘antioxidant’. This means that, in addition to its anti-bacterial properties, it would make a great natural preservative.
May Fight HIV
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) attacks the immune system, and makes the body more susceptible to infection.
If left untreated it may develop into AIDS. However, when HIV is diagnosed before it becomes AIDS, medicine can slow or stop the damage to the immune system.
The main type of HIV is HIV-1, which causes almost all of the cases of AIDS worldwide.
In a study of 69 Indian medicinal plants for anti-HIV activity, it was found that cinnamon bark is themost effective extract against HIV-1.
Another study found that compounds present in extracts of elderberry, cinnamon and green tea bind to and block HIV-1 infection in cells.
While I’m certainly not suggesting those diagnosed with HIV solely rely on cinnamon to treat the virus, it may be a useful complementary therapy – depending on what your doctor advises.
These studies also highlight the power of cinnamon’s medicinal properties.
Prevents Diabetes & Regulates Blood Sugar
The polyphenols in cinnamon may help to reduce insulin resistance, helping to stave off diabetes.
What’s more, cinnamon and its components have beneficial effects on other factors associated with diabetes and metabolic syndrome, such as inflammation, blood pressure and body weight.
Cinnamon has even been shown to lower the levels of glucose that enter the blood after eating.
Another study of patients with type 2 diabetes found that cinnamon extract had a moderate effect in reducing fasting blood sugar levels, by up to 10.3%.
This sweet spice also mimics sweetness in foods, meaning that you may be able to cut down your sugar consumption just by adding a little to your latte or fruit bowl, which also helps blood sugar levels.
Prevents Neurodegenerative Diseases
Nobody wants to lose their memories, so protecting the brain against these types of progressive conditions is vital.
The two most common types of neurodegenerative diseases are Alzheimer’s, which disrupts memory, thought and behavior, and Parkinson’s, which affects the way you move and causes tremors, stiffness and problems with balance.
In mice with Parkinson’s, consuming ground cinnamon had positive effects such as neuron protection, normalized levels of neurotransmitters, and improved motor functions.
Tel Aviv University researchers discovered that an extract found in cinnamon bark contains properties that inhibit the development of Alzheimer’s.
Unfortunately, it would take a toxic level of cinnamon to see these benefits, but scientists are still looking at a way to use cinnamon’s components to fight Alzheimer’s.
Contributes to Heart Health
A diet rich in spices, including cinnamon and turmeric, have been shown to counteract some of the negative effects of eating a fatty meal.
Normally, after eating such an unhealthy fat-filled meal, fat levels in your blood (known as triglycerides) rise. High triglycerides substantially raise the risk of heart disease.
In a very small study, participants added two tablespoons of spices, including cinnamon, to a fatty meal. The spices reduced triglyceride levels by about 30%!
They also raised blood antioxidant levels by 13%.
Kills Cancer Cells
Cinnamon and cinnamon oil might be a powerful natural treatment to help block the development of cancer and tumors. It has been found effective against several cancers including:
- In the treatment of gastric cancers and melanomas.
- Cervical cancer – it has been seen to cause these particular cancer cells to die.
- Colon cancer – mice with this cancer were shown to be protected against further cancer growth, when treated with cinnamon. Laboratory studies have also shown cinnamon protects against colon cancer in human colon cells.
Of course, for more studies are required and much more human testing, but initial tests do look promising for cinnamon’s role in cancer treatment.
A Multiple Sclerosis Therapy
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an often disabling disease of the central nervous system with no known cause.
MS disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.
Treatments are limited to medications and lifestyle modifications like stress management, a balanced diet and regular exercise.
In the future, there may be a place for cinnamon in a balanced MS treatment plan.
Initial findings of a study in mice with MS indicate that cinnamon may help those suffering from MS. Scientists are undertaking further study in this area.
If it shows similar effects in humans, it would be awesome news as cinnamon would be an inexpensive and natural therapy for sufferers.