Delicious and healthy?! Sometimes that combo feels too good to be true. But it’s time to throw skepticism aside – in the case of cinnamon, you really can have your cake and eat it, too! This popular spice is good for you in so many regards, and there are lots of ways to add it to your diet.
Take a look at some of the science-backed health benefits of cinnamon and learn how to take advantage of this ‘too good to be true’ spice.
3 Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Research has shown time and again that cinnamon can be linked with acute health benefits. Here are the biggest wins when it comes to cinnamon.
- Reduce Inflammation – Cinnamon has natural anti-inflammatory properties. Easing inflammation is linked to all sorts of health benefits, like reducing the risk of heart disease, helping with rheumatoid arthritis, and slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Lower Cholesterol – Improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels have been seen in cinnamon trials, including a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL. Daily cinnamon consumption was shown to be more effective with enacting these benefits.
- Regulate Blood Sugar – Research has demonstrated that cinnamon can help individuals with Type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar levels. While the implications of that are significant and promising, the American Diabetes Association asserts that cinnamon alone should not be used as a full replacement for diabetes management and/or medication.
The Science behind Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a common spice, but many people aren’t familiar with its origins. Cinnamon is actually harvested from the trunk of trees grown in Sri Lanka, China, Vietnam and other surrounding areas. Because it’s so finely ground, you’d hardly believe that it started as tree bark!
Like many spices, cinnamon is naturally rich in antioxidants and other compounds that are great for health. Yet, too much of it can be toxic. For that reason, it’s best to avoid supplements and use it as a cooking spice instead. Even when eaten daily as part of a healthy diet, it’s highly unlikely to ingest enough cinnamon to reach the toxicity level.
Types of Cinnamon – Powdered or Stick?
There are two species of trees that yield the bark needed to make cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is the more common variety that stems from China. Ceylon cinnamon stems from southern India and Sri Lanka. Often regarded as the more flavorful spice, Ceylon cinnamon is difficult to find and is typically found only in specialty spice stores.
Cinnamon can be purchased already ground up as a fine powder, or as a small, curled-up stick about the length of a finger and brown in color – a reminder that it’s a natural ingredient that starts as tree bark! Most dieticians agree that both provide excellent health benefits, though grating a fresh cinnamon stick may provide stronger flavor when cooking.
Best Cinnamon Recipes for a Healthy Diet
There are so many ways to enjoy cinnamon! Here are a few ideas for adding this healthy spice to your mealtime repertoire.
- Savory & Sweet Treats – baked cinnamon apples, seasoned popcorn, cinnamon-sprinkled sweet potatoes, baked cinnamon-thyme chicken, cinnamon roasted pecans
- Drinks – cinnamon apple cider, warm cinnamon milk, ginger cinnamon tea
Delicious and good for you! Cinnamon can’t be beat.