Last Updated December 20th, 2021
Cinnamon: An Exotic Spice with Mystical Powers
Cinnamon is a common kitchen ingredient, widely used all across the globe due to its ability to enhance the flavor and aroma of numerous sweet and savory dishes. Cinnamon belongs to Lauraceae family and majorly cultivated in tropical countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Brazil, Egypt, and Vietnam. It is either used in rolled stick form or in powder; both the forms are derived from the dried inner bark of a cinnamon tree. Presence of essential oil in the bark of a cinnamon tree, popularly known as Cinnamaldehyde, is responsible for exotic aroma and flavor of cinnamon.
Classification of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is broadly classified into four categories followed as under:
- Ceylon Cinnamon or Mexican Cinnamon
- Cassia Cinnamon or Chinese Cinnamon
- Vietnamese Cinnamon
- Indonesian Cinnamon
Out of the above mentioned, four categories of cinnamon Ceylon Cinnamon and Cassia Cinnamon are widely used.
Cinnamon Tea: Perfect Combination of Health and Taste
Cinnamon is creating a buzz amongst health and fitness enthusiasts across the globe. Weight watchers and renowned personalities from the health & fitness industry have spread information regarding the positive outcomes of cinnamon drinks. Several studies have proven the effectiveness of cinnamon tea in weight loss by two mechanisms; that is by controlling blood glucose level and increasing insulin sensitivity in cells. Both these mechanisms help an individual in speeding up metabolism and alleviate the risk of fat deposition.
Additionally, cinnamon also aids in controlling hunger pangs and frequent cravings to have food or sweet by making an individual feel satiated for a longer duration. The ability of cinnamon to maintain glucose level, regulate hormones by increasing insulin sensitivity amongst PCOD and diabetes patients has helped it is gaining popularity all around the globe.
You cannot ignore these health benefits
Glucose Regulator in Diabetics
Diabetes mellitus is a very common lifestyle disorder; around 80% of the total diabetic population belongs to lower and middle-income countries. Diabetes mellitus is associated with little or no production of insulin by the pancreas, or improper functioning of insulin hormone also called insulin resistance. According to research, every nine out of ten people having diabetes mellitus are actually suffering from type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes). The high glucose level in type-2 diabetes patients can be controlled by taking proper diet, exercise, oral glucose-lowering medication and insulin injections.
However, side effects associated with prolonged consumption of allopathic medications to control high blood sugar levels has created a dire need of a natural alternative, which can be used to regulate sugar level lifelong without any side effects. Cinnamon is one such naturally occurring dietary component which has proven to play a crucial role in controlling blood glucose level.
Cinnamon controls high glucose level in the bloodstream by multiple mechanisms, one such pathway is by impeding with the activity of digestive enzymes, which subsequently slow down the digestion process of carbohydrates in the humans. Another hypothesis related to the ability of cinnamon to regulate blood glucose level is focussed on the insulin-mimetic properties of cinnamon.
Cinnamon mimic insulin and act on cells, as a result, cells get activated and uptake of available glucose by cells increases significantly. As per scientific research conducted on, anti-diabetic properties of cinnamon, effective and regular consumption of cinnamon by an individual is expected to lower his fasting blood sugar levels by 10-29%. It is recommended to have either 1 to 6 gm or 0.5 to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon every day to observe its effectiveness of blood sugar level.
Anti- Microbial Action of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is rich in cinnamonaldehyde due to which it inhibits the growth of varied micro-organisms. Cinnamon prohibits the occurrence of food-borne infections by suppressing the growth of disease-causing bacteria species such as Listeria and Escherichia coli in food items. This also helps in increasing the shelf life of processed/packaged food items. Furthermore, studies have been conducted to observe the anti-microbial action of cinnamon on bacteria- Staphylococcus aurei, fungus species such as Aspergillus flavus, Mucor plumbeus, and Candida lipolytica. Cinnamon in conjugation with clove oil has proven to be effective against Aspergillus flavus. The anti-fungal and anti-bacterial action of cinnamon ranges between 10-150 microgram ml.
Powerful Protectant Against Oxidative Damage
Cinnamon is a powerful spice loaded with antioxidants, as oil derived from cinnamon bark comprises highly potent polyphenol compounds. Over the years, the global food industry has been struggling with oxidation-related damages that can occur at any stage of food processing, distribution, and storage.
Packaged food manufacturers use synthetic as well as natural anti-oxidants to avoid the spillage of food, however, with the growing stringent regulations in the food industry, manufacturers are gravitating towards the use of natural alternatives. Researchers have found that cinnamon extract is a natural food preservative with high anti-oxidation potential and it also improves the palatability of edible items.
Additionally, it safeguards the human body against oxidative damage caused by free radicals and scientists across the globe are making an attempt to understand the application of cinnamon in the treatment of liver disorders.
Anti-inflammation Effect of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is an extremely effective anti-inflammatory agent, for years, cinnamon bark extract oil has been used in natural analgesics to soothe the joint ache and numb pain. The presence of cinnamonaldehyde and a small amount of eugenol in cinnamon oil are major contributors to its anti-inflammatory properties. The active components of cinnamon oil impact the signaling pathways of inflammation mechanism.
Natural Remedy for Heart Ailment
Cinnamon is a supernatural food with a multitude of health benefits, such as regulation of blood glucose level in the diabetic population, cholesterol control and metabolism regulation. Cinnamon improves an individual’s health in a holistic manner by controlling all the above-mentioned problems effectively.
Regular intake of cinnamon reduces bad cholesterol and triglycerides level in blood without tampering with the level of HDL cholesterol, this helps in the proper functioning of the heart. A regular dosage of 120 mg cinnamon can potentially increase the level of HDL in the blood, positively impacting the cardiac health of an individual. Resultantly, the risk of heart ailments reduces drastically and heart is able to function in a non-strenuous manner for a longer period.
Helps in Fighting Against Neurodegenerative Disorder
Neurodegenerative disorder refers to the gradual loss of structure and function of brain cells; this has a detrimental effect on cognition of an individual. So far, in various studies, cinnamon has proven its effectiveness in enhancing cognition in animals suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Alzheimer’s is diagnosed by the presence of tau protein in brain cells of the patient; the ability of active cinnamon components to inhibit the buildup of tau protein.
This indicates that it can be used to treat individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s. Moreover, in a research conducted on rodents suffering from Parkinson’s diseases, cinnamon extract aided in protecting neurons, improving motor function and maintaining neurotransmitter at a normal level.
Potent Protector against Cancer
Extensive research has been done to examine the potential of cinnamon in cancer prevention and treatment. Cinnamon inhibits the growth of the tumor by suppressing proliferation of cancer cells and obstructing in the formation of blood vessels in the tumor. It also impedes the viability of cancer cells and acts as a lethal substance for cancer cells. In addition to this, cinnamon act as a potent activator of detoxification enzymes present in the colon, which further stunts the growth of cancer cells. The toxicity of cinnamon is confined to cancer cells, it does not interfere with the functioning or survival of normal body cells.
Impact of Cinnamon on Cholesterol
The presence of LDL (Low-Density Lipoproteins) and triglycerides in human blood above the permissible limit are dangerous for an individual’s health. In addition to healthy eating habits and regular physical activities, regular consumption of cinnamon can help in maintaining cholesterol at a healthy level. Cinnamon reduces the level of LDL and triglycerides without tampering with HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) or commonly called good cholesterol. Researches suggest that intake of 120mg of cinnamon per day can also help in increasing the HDL cholesterol level in blood.
Maintenance of Blood Pressure
A very little research has been done on cinnamon in regards to blood pressure control; however, the ability of cinnamon to relax blood vessels is the causative factor responsible for the decline in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The production of nitric oxide by cinnamon results in a vasodilation effect that causes a significant fall in blood pressure.
Potential to Fight Against HIV
Cinnamon in conjugation with elderberry, green tea has been used at laboratory scale to examine its inhibition ability against the entry of HIV-1 in target cells. This amalgamation of extracts that are rich in flavonoids compounds has the potential to be used as a part of co-therapies for HIV-1 positive individuals, in a safe and reliable manner.
Cinnamon Drinks That Gained Popularity in Health & Fitness World
Recipe 1: Ginger-Turmeric Cinnamon Tea
|Grated Fresh Turmeric|
|Fresh Grated Ginger|
- Add water, grated turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then heat the mixture on low flame for 30 minutes.
- Strain the mixture and discard left out ingredients
- Add lemon juice before sipping this healthy mix.
Recipe 2: Honey-Lemon Cinnamon Tea
|Black Tea Leaves|
- Add black tea leaves, cinnamon stick and sliced lemon to a saucepan or teapot.
- Boil water in a separate pan and add boiling water to the mixture. Cover the mixture and let it brew for five minutes.
- Post-brewing, strain the mixture and discard solids and add honey, stir this mix to dissolve honey.
Risks Associated with Ingestion of Cinnamon
Generally, the consumption of cinnamon is linked to a plethora of health benefits; however, it also can have some negative impact on human health.
Skin Irritation: Heavy dosage of cinnamon for a prolonged period may cause extreme dryness and irritation in mouth and lips. Consumption of ground cinnamon with less quantity of water can cause irritation in the throat and lungs. Tropical application of highly concentrated cinnamon mixture may cause redness and burn in extreme cases.
Health Hazards of Courman: Courman is a component present in cinnamon; it is responsible for spicy taste and strong aroma of cinnamon. It has been observed that different varieties of cinnamon has varied content of Corman, Cassia cinnamon has been discovered with the highest content of courman due to which it is considered highly hepatotoxic and carcinogenic. Cassia cinnamon contains approximately 63 times more courman than Ceylon. Ceylon also called “true Cinnamon” has ultra-low content of courman, therefore considered safer for consumption. However, due to cheaper rates Cassia variety of cinnamon is widely available in supermarkets.
Health risks of unregulated cinnamon consumption: Intake of cinnamon by diabetes patients to reduce blood glucose level along with oral medication treatment or insulin injection may decline blood glucose level abruptly. Extreme low level of glucose in the human body can aggravate health problems. Also, raw cinnamon or cinnamon supplements have the potential to interact with antibiotics, glucose control drugs, blood thinners, and heart treatment medicines. Therefore, before involving cinnamon in regular diet, a consumer should take suggestion from a medical practitioner.
Verdict: Is Cinnamon a Hero or a Villain?
Cinnamon is a marvelous spice with uncountable benefits; however, this bag of goodness comes with a little burden and problems. Before adding cinnamon in regular diet, one must need to be aware regarding bright as well as the dark side of this spice. Any natural therapeutic agent is beneficial when taken in right amount and manner. Similarly, cinnamon powder or stick consumption has some limits or some recommendations, if followed properly there are scarce chances of health damages to the consumer. As discussed earlier, Ceylon cinnamon is least likely to cause any health trouble over other cinnamon categories; therefore, Ceylon cinnamon should be given preference over other categories.
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