We’ve all seen images of creamy hot chocolate cups, with a swirly cinnamon stick dipped into it. The dipping of cinnamon isn’t a mindless ritual, it’s warming, delicious and loaded with health benefits!
The rolls of cinnamon are extracted from the bark of the cinnamon tree. The stems are cut, the outer bark is scraped off and beaten with a hammer to loosen the inner bark. Another common variety of cinnamon is cassia that has a more intense flavour and a more reddish color.
The characteristic aroma of cinnamon is due to its essential oil. Cinnamon is used in baked goods, beverages and savoury dishes.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon has several health benefits. Here are a few health benefits that will make you include this spice in your daily diet.
1. Provides Several Antioxidants
In a study of 26 spices, cinnamon was found to have the most antioxidants of all, even more than garlic. Experts have found at least 41 different compounds including polyphenols phenolic acid and flavonoids. These antioxidants fight oxidative stress and reduce free radicals, thus protecting against premature ageing and chronic illnesses.
2. Boosts Brain Function
Cinnamon is known to increase neurotrophic factors that help to maintain the health of existing neurons while encouraging the growth of new ones. Compounds in cinnamon also inhibit the buildup of damaging proteins, which help protect against neurological illnesses like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is a normal part of the functioning of the human body. It is also associated with all kinds of health issues from skin problems. Cinnamon’s antioxidants like flavonoids help fighting inflammation, keeping these illnesses at bay.
4. Fights Infection
Cinnamon fights infection with many natural properties – it is antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. The compound cinnamaldehyde fights bacteria like salmonella and listeria, as well as yeast like candida albicans, which is responsible for candida overgrowth. Cinnamon also boosts immunity with antioxidant polyphenols and proanthocyanidins.
5. Improves Oral Health
The infection fighting properties of cinnamon also help in maintaining oral health. Cinnamon can fight tooth decay, cavities, bad breath as well as mouth sores. Cinnamon is often used as an ingredient in many natural or herbal toothpastes.
Home Remedies with Cinnamon
1. Cinnamon Honey Acne Mask
Mix two tablespoons of honey with 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon to make a paste. Use a cotton ball to apply it on acne spots or scars, or to the entire face and neck. Leave for 30 minutes and rinse off using lukewarm water.
Cinnamon and honey contain anti-microbial properties that can heal acne or skin allergies and improve skin health.
2. Homemade Cinnamon Toothpaste
Mix 3 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon. Add 3-4 tablespoons of liquid coconut oil and a few drops of peppermint essential oil to make a thick paste. Store in a glass container in the fridge.
Cinnamon improves overall dental health. Baking soda can remove stains. Coconut oil prevents tooth decay.
3. Cinnamon Tea for Cold
Add 1 tablespoon of powdered cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of honey to a cup of water. Simmer for a while. Sip on this drink throughout the day to relieve a cough or dry throat.
Honey offers natural relief for cough and cold, and the cinnamon hastens the healing process.
It is important to note that all the health benefits of cinnamon as mentioned above apply with the use of true cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon. Over use of cassia can have harmful effects. This is due to the large amount of coumarin present in it. Too much coumarin can damage the liver and kidneys and also affect blood coagulation. Experts recommend to use cinnamon sparingly for pregnant or breastfeeding women, or those with heavy menstrual bleeding.
This post was originally written for Quint Fit. You can read the entire post here.