Do you know where those funny looking cinnamon sticks come from? Don’t worry I didn’t either! Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of trees scientifically known as Cinnamomum. This inner bark is dried until they curl into rolls known as cinnamon sticks. This simple piece of bark has been used and eaten by various cultures throughout history. As a common spice in various fall and winter foods, beverages, and desserts, I thought I’d share some of the scientifically linked health benefits of cinnamon.
Lowering blood sugar levels — one of hallmark key benefits is cinnamon’s ability to lower blood sugar levels by reducing our insulin resistance, slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates, helping with absorption of sugar (glucose) into cells by mimicking insulin.
This also helps with Improved energy levels — cinnamon is known to help with balancing insulin levels by making us more sensitive to it, preventing drastic drops in energy after meals.
Powerful antioxidant — cinnamon is one of the leading spices for its antioxidant properties. This is helpful in preventing damage related to excess free radicals that harm fatty tissue, DNA and proteins in the body.
An anti-inflammatory — These same antioxidants are helpful in decreasing inflammation which is linked to infections.
Reduce the risk of heart disease — if you’re at risk of heart disease because of family history, cinnamon maybe something you might want to consider adding to your diet. It has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood markers by reducing the levels of total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol, while keeping good cholesterol levels the same.
Heal and cure bacterial and fungal infections — cinnamaldehyde, one of the main components of cinnamon, has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties to help the body reduce the chance of UTI and other infections. These same antibacterial properties can also be helpful in the mouth in fighting tooth decay.
Cinnamon is reported to also help with acne, prevent certain types of cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
If you are wondering how to incorporate cinnamon into your diet, you can easily add cinnamon to many desserts, applesauce, via a morning smoothie, and a bunch of other ideas here.
*One important thing to note, it is best to take “Ceylon” cinnamon not “Cassia” cinnamon. Cassia is much more common, but there are various reported side effects like liver damage, interference with medications and more. Ceylon is safer to take, but can be harder to find. Amazon has a nice selection of options (Simply Organic is always a good brand). If you’re not sure what type of cinnamon you have, read the label (and if it is from from Asia, it’s likely Cassia and if it is from Sri Lanka or India it is more likely to be Ceylon) and image below should help as well.