Besides tasting good, cinnamon has several health properties:
Cinnamon's unique healing abilities come from three basic types of components in the essential oils found in its bark. These oils contain active components called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, plus a wide range of other volatile substances.
The cinnaldehyde in cinnamon helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets. (The way it accomplishes this health-protective act is by inhibiting the release of an inflammatory fatty acid called arachidonic acid from platelet membranes and reducing the formation of an inflammatory messaging molecule called thromboxane A2.) Cinnamon's ability to lower the release of arachidonic acid from cell membranes also puts it in the category of an "anti-inflammatory" food that can be helpful in lessening inflammation.
Cinnamon's antimicrobial properties are so effective that recent research demonstrates this spice can be used as an alternative to traditional food preservatives.
Blood Sugar Control
Seasoning a high carb food with cinnamon can help lessen its impact on your blood sugar levels. Cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, reducing the rise in blood sugar after eating. .
Cinnamon may also significantly help people with type 2 diabetes improve their ability to respond to insulin, thus normalizing their blood sugar levels.
By enhancing insulin signaling, cinnamon can prevent insulin resistance even in animals fed a high-fructose diet!
Cinnamon is so powerful an antioxidant that, when compared to six other antioxidant spices (anise, ginger, licorice, mint, nutmeg and vanilla) and the chemical food preservatives (BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), and propyl gallate), cinnamon prevented oxidation more effectively than all the other spices (except mint) and the chemical antioxidants.
Cinnamon's Scent Boosts Brain Function
Not only does consuming cinnamon improve the body's ability to utilize blood sugar, but just smelling the wonderful odor of this sweet spice boosts brain activity!
Calcium and Fiber Improve Colon Health and Protect Against Heart Disease
In addition to its unique essential oils, cinnamon is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese and a very good source of dietary fiber, iron and calcium. The combination of calcium and fiber in cinnamon is important and can be helpful for the prevention of several different conditions. Both calcium and fiber can bind to bile salts and help remove them from the body. By removing bile, fiber helps to prevent the damage that certain bile salts can cause to colon cells, thereby reducing the risk of colon cancer. In addition, when bile is removed by fiber, the body must break down cholesterol in order to make new bile. This process can help to lower high cholesterol levels, which can be helpful in preventing atherosclerosis and heart disease. For sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome, the fiber in cinnamon may also provide relief from constipation or diarrhea.
A Traditional Warming Remedy
In addition to the active components in its essential oils and its nutrient composition, cinnamon has also been valued in energy-based medical systems, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, for its warming qualities. In these traditions, cinnamon has been used to provide relief when faced with the onset of a cold or flu, especially when mixed in a tea with some fresh ginger.