I’m a sucker for a good cinnamon roll. That sweet, doughy, spicy goodness. Fresh out of the oven, or day old. I’m not picky. Just smelling cinnamon makes many people feel good. It’s home baking, warmth. There is a reason why realtors suggest having the scent in your home when selling, and it’s more than just to make your home smell good – there has been a small study that even just smelling cinnamon may improve your memory performance.
Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known. It was used in ancient Egypt as a beverage, medicinal herb AND as an embalming agent. At one point it was even more precious than gold. In the Middle Ages, it continued its popularity in Medieval Europe, used to merge one pot meals of meat and fruit.
However, did you know that there is more than one type of cinnamon? There are actually over 200 varieties of this evergreen inner bark.
Cinnamon has been used in cases of arthritis, asthma, cancer, diarrhea, fever, heart problems, insomnia, menstrual problems, peptic ulcers, psoriasis and spastic muscles. There are scientific studies to support some of these uses. Some of the confirmed effects of cinnamon are as a sedative for smooth muscle, circulatory stimulant, carminative, digestant, anticonvulsant, diaphoretic, diuretic, and antibiotic. Cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood fasting glucose in type 2 diabetes patients (which is also important for fertility). It is also useful in cases of the common cold, influenza and frost bite!
Quite a powerful spice.
What makes cinnamon unique in its healing capabilities is three components in the essential oils in the bark; cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate and cinnamyl alcohol. However, cinnamon also has blood thinning properties (coumarin); and the level of this varies based on the variety. The Cassia cinnamons (Saigon and Korintje) have a high level (1200 times more than Ceylon cinnamon), and prolonged exposure can actually have serious negative impact on your kidneys and liver. In fact, Germany advises that anyone who eats more than 2 grams per day could be at risk for side effects. Ceylon is considered the only “true” cinnamon, being harvested from trees in Sri Lanka; the amount of coumarin is miniscule in comparison.
Now to the types of cinnamon that are available to you (and will have the properties you are looking for!). I just got my last order from Vanilla Food Company (no, they don’t pay me – I just really like their product, they’re Canadian, and I’ve used them for years!). As soon as you open the bags up, you notice the difference. I wish there was smell-o-vision. The difference between these three spices is amazing.
First we have Saigon (a cassia cinnamon). This is the beautiful, rich, dark one. It is known for its superior flavour and odor (and is my personal favourite). This one contains up to 6% essential oil (one of the highest), and has a kick. This is definitely the strongest.
Next is Korintje (again, cassia), this is the one that most people are familiar with. This one comes from Indonesia, and is the type that you will generally find in the grocery store. I call this my medium cinnamon.
And finally, Ceylon, or ‘real’ cinnamon. This one has a sweeter flavour and isn’t overpowering. The Ceylon has the lowest coumarin content, and it’s the one you want to use if you’re aiming for the full health benefits from cinnamon over the long term.
Cinnamon is also ranked very high on the ORAC scale, making it a very powerful antioxidant. It’s a superfood. However, again, it is recommended that if you are looking for therapeutic dosing, to stick with Ceylon.
Cinnamon works well with poultry, in curries, fruit and veggies – and goes well with nutmeg! Next time you make chili, add some cinnamon for a unique flavour!
When you have a cold coming on, try this hot brew – mix grated ginger (about an inch worth), ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon, ¼ lemon and 1 cup of hot water.
As for baking, I love the taste of cinnamon, and often will mix all three in a recipe. I’m working on a healthier version of my favourite cinnamon roll…and I’ll be sure to share when its complete!
So, if you’re looking for a food solution that is antimicrobial, inhibiting the growth of fungi and yeast, regulate blood sugar, a great antioxidant – cinnamon is the best smelling (in my opinion) spice to have on hand!
Comment and tell me your favourite uses for cinnamon!
©2018 by Give Peas A Chance Holistic Nutrition Inc.