Cinnamon is a powerful spice that has been used medicinally around the world for thousands of years. It is still used daily in many cultures because of its widespread health benefits, not to mention its distinctly sweet, warming taste and ease of use in recipes.
Proven Health Benefits of Cinnamon
1. High Source of Antioxidants
Cinnamon is packed with a variety of protective antioxidants that reduce free radical damage and slow the aging process; in fact, researchers have identified 41 different protective compounds of cinnamon to date!
According to the ORAC scale, which is used to measure the concentration of antioxidants in different foods, cinnamon ranks #7 of all foods, spices and herbs across the world. And in a study that compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, cinnamon was deemed the winner and proved to be higher in antioxidants than other powerful herbs and spices, including garlic, thyme, rosemary and oregano.
Cinnamon health benefits are attributed to the type of antioxidants called polyphenols, phenolic acid and flavonoids. These are similar antioxidants to those that can be found in other “superfoods,” including berries, red wine and dark chocolate. These compounds work to fight oxidative stress in the body, which can lead to disease formation when uncontrolled, especially as someone ages.
The different antioxidants present in cinnamon help to reduce a multitude of symptoms and diseases because they are free radical scavengers. The health benefits of cinnamon include its ability to reduce many forms of oxidative stress, including the ability to limit nitric oxide build up in the blood and lipid (fat) peroxidation, which can both add to instances of brain disorders, cancer, heart disease and other conditions.
2. Contains Anti-inflammatory Properties
The antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, brain function decline and more. Researchers have identified over seven kinds of flavonoid compounds alone in cinnamon, which are highly effective at fighting dangerous inflammationlevels throughout the body.
Because cinnamon lowers swelling and inflammation, it can be beneficial in pain management, with studies showing that cinnamon helps to relive muscle soreness, PMS pains, severity of allergic reactions and other age-related symptoms of pain too.
3. Protects Heart Health
Studies have shown that another health benefit of cinnamon is that it reduces several of the most common risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels and high blood pressure.
The special compounds in cinnamon are able to help reduce levels of total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, while HDL “good” cholesterol remains stable. Cinnamon has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure, which is another threat for causing heart disease or a stroke. (10)
And there are even more heart health benefits of cinnamon. Research shows that cinnamon is a helpful blood coagulant and prevents bleeding by helping the body to form blood clots. Cinnamon also increases blood circulation and advances bodily tissue’s ability to repair itself after it’s been damaged. This includes heart tissue, which is in need of regeneration in order to help fight heart attacks, heart disease and stroke.
4. Helps Fight Diabetes
Cinnamon is known to have an anti-diabetic effect. It helps lower blood sugar levels and also can improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which is the vital hormone needed for keeping blood sugar levels balanced.
Diabetes is formed when insulin resistance occurs and poor glycemic control takes places, or someone develops the inability to manage how much sugar (glucose) enters the blood stream. The same problem with insulin resistence is also associated with other conditions like metabolic syndrome and weight gain, too.
These benefits of cinnamon exist because it plays a part in blocking certain enzymes called alanines, which allows for glucose (sugar) to be absorbed into the blood. Therefore, it has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a high-sugar meal, which is especially important for those with diabetes.
For this reason, many studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes can experience significant positive effects on blood sugar markers by supplementing with cinnamon extract.
5. Helps Defend Against Cognitive Decline & Protects Brain Function
Research also shows that another benefit of cinnamon’s protective antioxidant properties is they can help defend the brain against developing neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
One way cinnamon protects cognitive function and brain health is by activating neuro-protective proteins that protect brain cells from mutation and undergoing damage. This further reduces the negative effects of oxidative stress by stopping cells from morphing and self-destructing.
Because cinnamon contains so many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce the effects of aging on the body and brain, in the future, we may see it being used as a possible natural therapeutic treatment or prevention for age-related neuro-degenerative diseases.
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