Once upon a time, cinnamon was more valuable than gold. And while these days, most of us would rather get our hands on 24 karats instead of 24 ounces – a gold bar over a brown stick – this bark-cum-spice has just as much bite as it does bark. The potential health benefits of cinnamon could be stated as nothing short of astonishing.
To help us sort myth from fact, we’ve enlisted the help of several health experts to give us their two cents on one of our favorite spices.
1. Cinnamon may help treat Type 2 diabetes.
While it’s true that there’s no cure for Type 2 diabetes, cinnamon can be an effective tool in managing the disease.
Cinnamon can also reduce insulin resistance, which works directly on the muscle cells to force them to remove sugar from the bloodstream, where it is converted to energy.
The key is in increasing insulin sensitivity in the body, a sensitivity that, while present at birth for those without type 1 diabetes, slowly decreases as we age and consume more sugar. As a result, sugar floats around in the blood, causing diabetes and other health problems.
Add to this the fact that cinnamon has a naturally sweet taste that is devoid of sugar, making it a great addition to foods like plain yogurt as a dessert or snack, and you’ll soon see why we suggest it as a staple for the pantries of those with Type 2 diabetes.
2. Cinnamon can lower your bad cholesterol (or LDL).
Even if you do not suffer from diabetes, you may want to include cinnamon in your diet for many of the same reasons as those who do.
3. Cinnamon has antifungal, antibacterial, and even antiviral properties.
Cinnamon has been proven to fight fungal, bacterial, and viral elements in foods, thus preventing spoilage. It’s no surprise that in the Middle Ages, when food spoilage was far more frequent due to lack of refrigeration, many recipes, both sweet and savory, were flavored with the spice.
But these properties of cinnamon do not extend merely to the foods cinnamon seasons. Consumers of cinnamon can benefit from these properties as well, according to our experts, who say cinnamon can be used as part of a treatment for anything from lung problems to the common cold.
4. Cinnamon can help treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are two neurological conditions that, for the moment, are incurable. An enormous part of treating these diseases is therefore in symptom management, and this can be boosted with the addition of cinnamon to a regular regime.
5. Cinnamon may have anti-carcinogenic properties.
Many superfoods are attributed with anti-carcinogenic properties, but it’s important not to jump from super food to super power. Parikh explains why it’s important not to get carried away.
If these properties do extend to humans, then cinnamon may in fact be able to slow growth and kill cancerous cells. And even if these properties do not extend to a cure or treatment for cancer in humans, other characteristics of cinnamon, including the presence of antioxidants and free radicals, can contribute to its possible anti-carcinogenic effects.
6. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties.
Consumption of cinnamon can reduce both systemic and specific inflammation.
Specific inflammation reduction means that consumption of cinnamon can help treat certain types of pain and headaches, as well as arthritis pain. It plays a double role in this particular type of pain and cinnamon can also boost circulation.
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