Cinnamon is definitely one of the most popular spices during Advent. With its unmistakable aroma and intense taste, it sweetens the cold season in particular. You can find out here why cinnamon not only convinces with its taste, but also with its positive effect on health.
Cinnamon has been used by different cultures around the world for centuries and is now very common. Especially in the Advent and Christmas time the delicious spice is often used. But cinnamon can do more than just taste it. In traditional medicine, it is used as a remedy for various ailments in order to get its health benefits.
What is cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a spice, contains several bioactive ingredients and is obtained from the inner bark of trees of the tropical evergreen plant of the genus Cinnamomum. Did you know that cinnamon used to be almost as valuable as gold? The positive effects of cinnamon were also known in ancient Egypt and, due to its antibacterial properties, it was used for embalming, which is why the spice was so valued.
The two main types of cinnamon are:
- Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
- Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamon cassia)
The cinnamon tree is a real all-rounder! Bark, leaves, flowers, fruits and roots - almost every part of the tree has a medicinal or culinary use. But not all cinnamon is the same and so the two types of cinnamon also have different ingredients.
Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of cinnamon trees. The inner bark is extracted and the woody parts are removed. As it dries, strips form that curl up inwards, giving them the typical look of cinnamon sticks. When the cinnamon sticks are ground, you have cinnamon powder and can be used in many ways.
Ceylon cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka and southern India. It is rich in essential oils (cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, linalool), tanning and mucilage substances and other secondary plant substances. Cinnamaldehyde is the main component of the essential oil and is responsible for the distinctive smell and taste of cinnamon.1
Cassia cinnamon is also high in cinnamaldehyde, but does not contain eugenol. The very high content of the secondary plant substance coumarin in cassia cinnamon is a cause for concern. Regular ingestion in larger quantities can be harmful to health.
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The positive effects of cinnamon
The high levels of cinnamaldehyde are believed to be responsible for most of the health benefits of the popular spice. In the local Ayurvedic medicine, cinnamon is considered not only to be eaten but also as a remedy, for example for digestive problems, as it stimulates the intestinal activity.
Several studies from around the world have shown numerous benefits that have a positive effect on health. The beneficial effects of cinnamon include:2
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Reducing cardiovascular disease
- Insulin resistance and blood sugar levels are lowered
- Increase in cognitive function
- Reducing the risk of colon cancer
- Antibacterial and antimicrobial properties
Anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon
Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory, so the popular spice contains very effective ingredients Antioxidants like polyphenols. Antioxidants protect your body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. In a comparative study with 26 spices and their antioxidant effects, cinnamon was ahead of garlic and oregano.3
Cinnamon reduces cardiovascular disease
The spice can also improve some important heart disease risk factors, such as cholesterol4, Triglycerides5 and blood pressure.6
Cinnamon: Insulin resistance and blood sugar levels are lowered
Cinnamon can do that Lower insulin resistance and help the hormone perform its function. By increasing the insulin sensitivity, the spice can reduce the Lower blood sugar levels.7 Studies have also shown that cinnamon lowers the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal. Interfering with numerous digestive enzymes breaks down carbohydrates, which slow down the digestive tract.8
Cinnamon can also act on cells by mimicking insulin. This improves glucose uptake, although it works much more slowly than insulin itself.9 Studies have the antidiabetic effect confirmed and were able to show that cinnamon can lower the fasting blood sugar level by up to 29%. A daily dose of 1-6 g or 0,5-2 teaspoons of cinnamon can be taken for this.10, 11, 12
Cinnamon: Boosts cognitive function
Research with mice showed that cinnamon helped protect neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels, and improve motor function. However, the effect still needs to be investigated in humans.13
It has also been found to reduce responses to stress and help you stay more focused and alert.14
Reducing the risk of colon cancer with cinnamon
Another study in mice and in test tubes that has not been explored in humans is the potential of cinnamon for use in cancer prevention and treatment. Research suggests that cinnamon extracts may protect against cancer.15, 16, 17 In mice with colon cancer, it was found that the spice is an effective activator for the detoxification of enzymes in the colon and reduces the growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels in tumor.18
Antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of cinnamon
The main active ingredient in cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde, can help fight various infections, such as respiratory infections caused by fungi and can inhibit the growth of certain bacteria (Listeria, Salmonella)n.19, 20 The antimicrobial effect of cinnamon can also help with tooth decay and bad breathn.21, 22
Dosage: how much cinnamon per day?
To avoid taking too high a dose or causing side effects, you can stick to a dose of 1 g cinnamon per day or an intake of 0,1 mg coumarin per kilogram of body weight. However, if you really consume cinnamon every day, you should take a short break of a few days in between.
Application: How can I use cinnamon?
There are tons of delicious recipes made with cinnamon. The spice is particularly popular for desserts, such as rice pudding or, especially in winter, in cookies and cinnamon rolls. But cinnamon is also a popular ingredient in teas or in combination with apples.
However, behind typical Christmas recipes there are often sugary calorie bombs that are responsible for one or the other kilogram on the scales. If you have excess Avoid extra pounds want to try our delicious alternative:
You can roughly chop the ingredients and then simply put them in a blender. Use 50 g of the desiccated coconut. You then shred the amount until you have a sticky mass, which you can then cut out with a mold to make delicious cinnamon stars. Then sprinkle the cinnamon stars with the remaining desiccated coconut. If you don't have a shape to cut out, you can alternatively shape small balls and roll them through the rest of the coconut flakes. Have fun snacking!
The best thing to do is to keep your cinnamon stars or energy balls in the refrigerator in an airtight box for a week. Done quickly, you can always get fresh supplies! So perfect for the Advent season if you value it healthy snacks lay!
What are the side effects of cinnamon?
As mentioned earlier, not all cinnamon is created equal. So what should you watch out for with cinnamon? Cassia contains cinnamon Coumarinthat at a high dose harmful and can lead to liver problems. Therefore, you should make sure that you not regulary and ingesting too much cassia cinnamon.
Ceylon cinnamon, on the other hand, has a much lower content of coumarin, which is why you should prefer this type of cinnamon. The cheaper type cassia cinnamon is usually available in supermarkets, which is why you can also look around in health food stores or on the Internet.23
Up until now you thought that cinnamon tastes delicious and gives your dishes a special touch? Then you have underestimated the spice so far and now you might even prefer to use it. Cinnamon is especially popular in the cold Advent season and can be found in many recipes such as ours ahead-Cinnamon stars again.
But cinnamon has a lot more to offer and, in addition to its taste, scores above all with its positive health effectslike that Lowering blood pressure or his anti-inflammatory properties. It is best to make sure that you Ceylon cinnamon because it contains less coumarin. Of course, you can also use the cassia cinnamon, which is usually available in supermarkets. With this type of cinnamon, just pay a little more attention to the dose then you can also consume it without hesitation.
¹Calcium contributes to the normal function of digestive enzymes.