Cinnamon – Properties, types and benefits for health

Cinnamon – Properties, types and benefits for health

Apart from giving a sweet, woody and spicy touch to our dishes, cinnamon has many properties for our health. In fact, it has many benefits that support human health.

What is cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a spice that sweetens or adds flavor to some dishes. In fact, it is a very attractive ingredient when it comes to cooking desserts. Actually, some people even use it to season meat and make some special drinks.

Properties of cinnamon

This spice contains minerals and vitamins that take care of your health, some of them are: vitamin C, vitamin B1, iron, magnesium and calcium. Its medicinal properties are quite varied, from regulating the menstruation, to regenerating old cells and regulating the blood pressure.

For instance, we could also highlight: “its use as one of the fundamental elements to balm corpses, since there is evidence of the use of cinnamon oil in ancient Greek texts”[1]

Indian Cinnamon

This spice is mainly cultivated in Asia, next to the India. From there, it has been sold to the whole world with the passing of time

Medicinal properties of cinnamon

The studies have proven that its extract is one of the best natural remedies for diabetes. This is due to its ability to control the blood glucose levels. Cinnamon manages to lower blood sugar between an 18 and 29% of people who suffer diabetes. It is also good to take cinnamon on an empty stomach to obtain more a better effects against diabetes.

Moreover, cinnamon also has interesting digestive, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac and antioxidant properties. In fact, it can encourage a state of relaxation and even help to reduce the symptoms of colds.

The extract supports diabetic people or those who experience the first symptoms of this disease. Actually, it helps to control and lower the blood sugar levels, avoiding the accumulation of sugars as fat.

The ability of cinnamon to regulate glucose is mainly due to an active ingredient called methyl-hydroxychalcone polymer (MHCP).

How does it lower the blood sugar in diabetic people

The MHCP polymer that is present in this spice binds to other insulin receptors from the cells and stimulates them. Consequently, enhancing and increasing the insulin levels will help to lower the blood sugar levels, control and reduce the symptoms of diabetes.

The clinical studies have proven the efficacy of cinnamon as a natural ingredient for diabetic patients. This is due to the fact that taking it, it lowers the blood sugar level quite efficiently.

When diabetic people stop taking cinnamon, the effect disappears.

Therefore, taking this type of product regularly helps to control the blood sugar levels of diabetic people or those who suffer glucose alterations.

If we suffer diabetes and take this spice, we will manage to lower the daily dose of insulin that we need, as well as the glucose controls.

Benefits for Diabetes

 

Cinnamon and the digestion

To top it all, cinnamon has also interesting properties that improve the digestion. It has antiemetic effects apart from being a great anti-diarrheal that stimulates the appetite.

It is an effective way of treating dyspepsia naturally, which are is a difficult or slow digestion. In fact, they tend to produce swelling, gastric reflux, heartburn, abdominal pain or flatulence. Moreover, it will help to stimulate the secretion of gastric fluids, improving the digestive processes.

In addition, cinnamon has carminative properties that support cases of either stomach or intestinal flatulence. Most of the times, this is a symptom of digestive or fermentation problems.

How to use it

Taking a spoonful of cinnamon after the meals will improve the digestion, apart from controlling the sugar levels. This is very advisable specially for those who tend to suffer stomach acidity or swelling, specially after copious meals.

Cinnamon as antioxidant

It is rich in vitamin C, antioxidant phenolic compounds, flavonoids and tannins. Thanks to this elements, cinnamon provides a very powerful antioxidant protection to the organism.

Antioxidants are substances that protect our body against the effect of the free radicals. They protect our internal organs against oxidative damage and aging as well as the aspect and elasticity of our skin.

Cinnamon formats

 

Better blood flow

Cinnamon is one of the ingredients with anti-platelet, anti-sclerotic and anti-thrombi properties. Therefore, it is a great ally when it comes to improving the blood circulation.

Taking cinnamon is quite common to improve the peripheral blood flow to the hands and feet.

Cinnamon for colds and its anti-fungal effect

It has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, it is a natural remedy that relieves the symptoms of the flu, colds, bronchitis, coughing, nasal congestion, etc.

Moreover, it improves the functioning of the respiratory pathways, but it also contributes to improving the symptoms and headaches caused by the flu or colds.

In addition, it is a natural remedy that prevents the proliferation of fungi, specially the aspergillus and candida albicans types.

Properties of cinnamon to lose weight

A lot has been written about the properties of cinnamon for weight-loss diets. Even though there are no great studies about its effects, it seems that it contributes to improving the efficacy of insulin, controlling the sugar levels, which reduces the appetite as well.

For this, the nutrition specialists advise taking cinnamon tea or tincture before the main meals of the day. However, we have to combine the use of this supplementation with a diet low in sugars and fats, as well as a high calorie expenditure by doing exercise.

To make some tea, boil one liter of water with four cinnamon sticks. After boiling them, remove the sticks and drinks the liquid throughout the day, you can store it in the fridge if you want.

Cinnamon tea with lemon

 

Benefits of taking Cinnamon

Taking cinnamon will help you deal with stress and anxiety. A cinnamon tea will help you relax with its delicious taste and its calming scent.

Moreover, “it is a great natural aphrodisiac that increases the libido and combats impotence” [3].

However, as we will see now, it is sold under renowned brands. But we have to avoid being fooled, that is why it is important to do some research on what we are purchasing and taking.

Contraindications of cinnamon

Despite being a spice with many benefits, it also has some contraindications. For instance, pregnant women should avoid taking cinnamon supplements since they can have emmenagogue effects. This is due to the fact that it stimulates the blood flow to the pelvis and uterus, which can be harmful for the proper development of the pregnancy.

Breastfeeding women should also avoid taking cinnamon extract during this period. Otherwise, it could trigger hypersensitivity against the active ingredients from this product.

Cinnamon can be beneficial in cases of mild digestive disorders, but we have to avoid it when we have intestinal ulcers. On the contrary, it can trigger a more intense irritation in the stomach and bowel. If you have been diagnosed with severe stomach problems, the best thing to do is avoiding this spice.

Heart problems

People with heart problems should also avoid cinnamon supplement because it can increase the heartbeat.

Moreover, if we are taking antibiotics, we also have to avoid cinnamon supplements. The reason why is because it can interfere with the medication and change the way it works due to the fact that cinnamon is a natural antibiotic.

An excess of cinnamon can also have laxative effects.

Of course, cinnamon can have adverse effects in very high doses. It is quite unlikely for cinnamon to produce adverse affect if you just add a little bit in your meals to add a touch of flavor. You may regret adding way too much though.

Apple with Cinnamon

Cinnamon Intake

The limit for the dose of cinnamon extract a day is at 1000mg. It is advisable to take 500mg of extract after the main meal (lunch) and 500mg after dinner.

You can also combine it with other supplements that help to control the blood glucose such as chromium picolinate.

Consult your doctor before taking cinnamon and chromium picolinate.

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Who can take cinnamon?

  • Those who want keep their glucose levels under control
  • People who want to improve their physical composition thanks to a better utilization of glucose, preventing its storage as fat
  • Pre-diabetic people, overweight or obese people who have a predisposition to resist the effects of insulin
  • People who want to improve their digestion or as natural alternative to relieve mild digestive problems (heartburn, indigestion…)
  • As natural remedy against common colds (as long as we are not taking medication)
  • Those who want to increase the antioxidant protection

Types of cinnamon

However, there is not just one type of cinnamon and it has several names. However, they are all commonly called cinnamon. Cinnamon can be divided into: ceylon, cassia, saigon, etc. That is why we need to be aware that some of these types of cinnamon are not necessarily good for our health.

Types of cinnamon

It is important to know the properties of the types of cinnamon to avoid using it irresponsibly.

Differences between cassia and ceylon

As we previously mentioned, cinnamon has many benefits but we need to be aware of what we are taking if we consume it regularly.

Different types of cinnamon

There are many brands that sell cinnamon in different formats in supermarkets.

It is available in powder or whole. However, we may purchase one that does not have the minerals and vitamins we are looking for. We may make the mistake of purchasing a harmful product by trusting some of the brands in the market.

Cassia cinnamon

Also known as “false cinnamon”, it is the one that is mostly available in shops and supermarkets. It may not be harmful at first, but if we consume it repeatedly, it can affect our health.

Cassia cinnamon is cheap and easy to produce. Vietnam, Burma, Indonesia and China are the main producers of this cinnamon, which is the most sold type worldwide.

“It is not compulsory to distinguish both products in the United States. In fact, we may read “cinnamon” in the label and it may probably be “cassia” [2].

Cassia vs CeylonWith Cassia, you buy cheap but you buy twice. The best way of recognizing it is for the way it looks. Usually, it is made up of two or more rolls in one and it is quite hard to the touch. In fact, it is quite difficult to break and it has a brown color that is a little bit darker than ceylon cinnamon.

Coumarin and its Harmful Effects for our Health

The dangers of cassia come from its coumarin level, which is used as an anticoagulant in some medication after being processed. In its natural state, it does not have these qualities, in fact, some experiments have proven that it can even trigger cancer in animals.

Cassia can have up to an 8% of coumarin; which is why it is too dangerous for our health. If we take it regularly, it can cause cancer and damage the liver permanently. In addition, it can affect the both simple and serious wound healing processes due to its anti-coagulant elements.

Currently, the European Union has declared that it is dangerous thanks to the research on its effects. Several countries from this continent do not advise its intake, only in very low amounts, that is, a minimum of 6mg daily. This amount of coumarin is not harmful, which can prevent hepatic and lung damage, which can affect our quality of life.

Ceylon cinnamon

On the other hand, ceylon has very low coumarin levels. This type of cinnamon comes from the “cinnamon tree” or cinnamomum verum and it produces the authentic cinnamon. The main producers of the ceylon variety are Sri Lanka and India.

Unlike cassia, ceylon has a clearer color and it becomes undone when you touch it or it is very soft. Its smell is much less strong than the one of the cassia variety.

Ceylon cinnamon is the best for our health

Ceylon provides properties for our health and some of its main benefits are:

  • Regulating the sugar levels and increasing the insulin tolerance;
  • Reducing the sensitivity to diseases triggered by cholesterol;
  • Reducing the internal inflammation of any organ or injury;
  • Helping to get rid of fungi in different parts of the body;
  • Providing antioxidant properties, which is why it could contribute to treating neurodegenerative diseases.

Cinnamon powder and sticks

If we suffer a sugar drop (quite common) a little bit of this cinnamon can help to improve the symptoms of this condition.

On the other hand, it helps to hydrate the skin and prevent scars produced due to the passing of time. Moreover, it contributes to relieving the pain caused by arthritis. Thus, it is available in the market like cassia, although it is more expensive. This is due to the country where it is produced and its benefits for our health. When it comes to purchasing cinnamon, we need to take into account its smell to distinguish both types, specially when it comes in powder.

Why is cassia sold?

One of the reasons why people buy it so much around the world is because it is sold in one of the countries that sell the cheapest products in bulk. We are talking about China, the biggest distributor of this product and so many more.

Cinnamon bark

It is in our hands to take care of our health and safety. There are many shops that want to reduce the cost of the products to increase their gains, sometimes at the expense of our wellbeing.

We need to keep these differences into account and try to avoid taking cassia. It is better to spend a little bit more money to follow a healthy lifestyle, specially if we truly love cinnamon.

Thus, ceylon cinnamon has benefits that go beyond food supplementation, which is why we highly encourage its intake.

Bibliography

  1. 1001 Especias
  2. Blog de Cocinista
  3. YaSalud
  4. Nutrion Facts

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