In “The Healing Power” series we explore the nutritive properties of specific types of foods. You might not consider the benefits (or detriments) of the foods you put into your body everyday, but whole foods have a powerful impact on the overall health of your entire system. Today, we explore the healing power of cinnamon.
Cinnamon: “True” cinnamon, also known as ceylon cinnamon, is obtained from the inner bark of the Cinnomomum verum tree. Most commercially available cinnamon, known as cassia or saigon cinnamon, is derived from related species. Saigon cinnamon is considerably higher in a compound called coumarin, which is a natural blood thinner. It’s been shown to be moderately toxic to the liver and kidneys in mice, so consuming ceylon cinnamon, which only contains trace amounts of coumarin, might be better for long-term, supplemental use.
Nutrients: Cinnamon is high in manganese, a trace mineral critical to bone formation and collagen production (keep those wrinkles at bay!). It’s also a good source of fiber, and provides a bit of calcium. But there’s more to cinnamon than just the nutrients. It does some pretty cool stuff in your body.
Healing properties: Cinnamon offers a multitude of healing properties.
- Anti-inflammatory – One of the best benefits in my book, as chronic inflammation is now believed to be the root cause of disease. Cinnamon is high in anti-oxidants, which protect the body from oxidation and in turn helps reduce inflammation in the body.
- Blood sugar control – In studies certain compounds in cinnamon were actually show to boost the effectiveness of insulin, which in turn meant that less insulin needed to be released into the blood stream to mop up excess sugar. With studies in the past several years linking insulin production to longevity, less is definitely better.
- Combats Dementia – Alzheimer’s has become prolific in modern times. One can deduce there might be something in our current environment/lifestyle that might be contributing to this (Alzheimer’s has been referred to as the 3rd type of diabetes). Compounds in cinnamon have actually been shown to inhibit tau aggregation. Tau is a protein filament in the brain that, when misfolded due to disease, contributes to dementia.
- Fights bacteria & fungus – Cinnamaldehyde can inhibit bacteria and fungal growth, aiding in controlling overgrowth of fungi like candida.
- Inhibits AGE formation – Advanced glycation end products are sugar bound molecules that act as free radicals on our bodies. Cinnamon can help inhibit the formation of these rogue structures.
There are more benefits to read about in the articles referenced below.
Supplementing: If you like the flavor if cinnamon, it’s pretty darn easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Sprinkle it into your coffee and tea, use it to spice savory foods up, mix it into yogurt or milks, add it to protein shakes, there are lots of options. Aim to get at least 1/2 a teaspoon a day.
If you don’t love the flavor, there are plenty of cinnamon supplements out there. Just be sure to check with your doc to make sure supplementing with cinnamon isn’t counter-reactive with any medications you might be on.