Cinnamon has numerous health benefits and can be added to an array of different dishes!
What is cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a wonderful spice which is derived from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree. This magnificent spice has been used throughout history for its medicinal properties as well as its warming sweet flavour.
Cinnamon is available in stick form or as a powder which has the stronger flavour. To keep the spice fresh always store it in a sealed glass container, in a cool dark place. The cinnamon should smell sweet if it is fresh so give it a sniff before using, if you have been storing it for a while.
So what can cinnamon do for our health?
Cinnamon can help balance blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that cinnamon significantly increases our cells’ ability to use glucose. It is therefore particularly beneficial for individuals with insulin insensitivity and even type 2 diabetes. Research has also indicated that cinnamon can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. The great thing about cinnamon is its natural sweetness; when added to foods and drinks cinnamon can help curb your sugar cravings.
Additionally, cinnamon has anti inflammatory properties. Cinnamaldehyde, one of the active ingredients in cinnamon essential oil, inhibits the release of an inflammatory substance from our blood platelets. (Platelets are components of our blood that stop us from bleeding). This will prevent unnecessary clumping of the platelets which can interfere with our blood flow.
What’s more cinnamon’s essential oil has anti-microbial activity. This means it can stop the growth of bacteria, fungi and yeast including Candida. Hence, it can be a useful ingredient to add if we are suffering from a bacterial, fungal or yeast infection.
Besides the great properties of cinnamon’s essential oils, cinnamon is a good source of fibre, calcium and manganese. The fibre and calcium are very good at promoting colon health by protecting our colon cells from damage, whereas the calcium and manganese are both important for bone health. Manganese is also important for keeping our skin healthy.
How can we use cinnamon in our everyday cooking?
We can add cinnamon to savoury and sweet dishes and a variety of drinks. Just small amounts (no more than 1 teaspoon a day) of the powder will do the trick; note that substantial amounts of cinnamon can become toxic to some individuals.
At breakfast time add a dusting of cinnamon to porridge, use in homemade granola, banana bread or breakfast muffins.
Enhance Middle Eastern dishes such as Moroccan spiced lamb or spicy chickpea stew with a dash of cinnamon. Experiment with cinnamon in curries and aromatic rice dishes.
Grate half an apple and sprinkle with cinnamon to help alleviate an upset tummy.
Simmer the sticks with almond or coconut milk for a warming night time drink or try one of the great herbal teas available; Pukka ‘Three Cinnamon’ or ‘Vanilla Chai’ are delicious options. Alternatively boil a decoction of cinnamon with some fresh chopped ginger for at least ten minutes to create a soothing medicinal drink for sore throats and colds.
Overall cinnamon is a great store cupboard basic. There are hundreds of tasty recipes so keep following my blog for more appetising ideas to come......