Monday - Jun 17, 2019

The wonders of cinnamon


byBen Fuchs

I love easy-to-use remedies for common health issues. Vitamin C powder is super effective for colds, drinking lots of water can ease hunger pangs while encouraging weight loss and deep breathing can lower blood pressure almost immediately.

One of my favorite simple strategies for improving health involves using spices. Not only can they have medicinal value, but spicing strategically will make foods taste better and you’ll find that if you’re eating generously spiced foods you’ll feel fuller faster.

One of the most helpful of spices is cinnamon. It’s tasty and can help enhance the sweetening powers of sugar and honey. And, as it turns out, cinnamon can also help lower blood sugar too!

While there are dozens of types of cinnamon, the most readily available are Ceylon cinnamon (also known as “true” cinnamon), which is valued for its gentle sweet taste and Cassia (Chinese) cinnamon which has a spicier, stronger and more intense flavor. You can tell the difference between the two forms by their appearance; Cassia cinnamon is dark/reddish brown with a thick hard texture while the Ceylon type is light tan and tends to be thin and brittle.

No matter what form of cinnamon you chose to use, all have therapeutic properties. According to the Mayo Clinic, a 2012 review of scientific research found that using cinnamon had a “potentially beneficial effect” for sugar control. And another study from 2009 found that a 500 mg capsule of cinnamon taken twice a day for 90 days improved sugar levels, as measured by hemoglobin A1C levels, in people with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Richard Anderson of the Human Nutrition Research Center, a division of the US Department of Agriculture, says that cinnamon contains a nutritional compound called MHCP which makes fat cells more sensitive to insulin, thus improving the body’s sugar handling capacity. In addition, cinnamon can slow down stomach emptying time reducing dramatic changes in blood sugar, which can again improve the effectiveness of insulin.

And that’s not the only health benefits cinnamon can provide. Cinnamon is packed with anti-oxidant compounds that slow down the aging process. It may act as an anti-inflammatory reducing the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. For those prone to sticky prone-to-clot blood, cinnamon contains a natural blood thinner called “coumarin”, which can help improve blood flow and circulation. For those on anti-coagulant medication who want to avoid coumarin’s blood thinning effects, best to lay off the Cassia cinnamon, which contains lots more of the clot busting phyto-nutrient than the less popular Ceylon version.

If you’re a diabetic or don’t want to be one, try adding ½ a teaspoonful to your breakfast and or dinner time dessert and see what happens. It can be especially tasty on savory veggies like onions and shallots.