Cinnamon: The World's Most Popular Spice (Intro)
For centuries cinnamon has been the world's favorite spice. From the Chinese 5000 years ago, to the Egyptians and the Romans up to modern Europe, cinnamon has been treasured for its taste and medicinal uses. When walking by a bakery mixed with the smell of bread, the odor of cinnamon wafts in the air.
Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka (ancient Ceylon). It is taken from the many species of the laurel tree. How is cinnamon produced?. It is actually the bark from tender shoots on the tree. The bark is which is stripped from the laurel and dried, giving it the curled up look we think of as cinnamon sticks. While it could once only be found in Ceylon, cinnamon is now grown in many places, mainly in tropical regions, including India, Vietnam, Brazil, Madagascar, the West Indies, and Egypt - to name a few. True cinnamon comes from the C. zeylanicum tree, but most cinnamon produced today is from the C. Cassia tree.
Cinnamon has an interesting history and has had many uses. The Romans burned it during their funerals; the Egyptians drank it as well as used it in the embalming process and before refrigeration. It was used in meats to mask the smell of decay as well as to retard the growth of bacteria.
Of course, cinnamon has been used for medicinal purposes as well and has been known as a healing herb since its mention in Chinese botanical books that date to 2700 BC. Recently, it has been studied for itís ability to boost brain power as well as reduce blood clotting and its healing effects on the heart and colon. New research shows it might also be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes.
Some ailments cinnamon is said to relive include digestive upset, congestion, menstrual problems, stiff joints and muscles. It has been used as a pain reliever as well. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce arthritis pain and is said to help cure urinary tract infections. Some studies indicate it may fight tooth decay and gum disease. It also has powerful anti-microbial properties that can kill bacteria (one of the reasons it was used hundreds of years ago to help preserve meat).
Cinnamon is most used in cooking and baking. It is often paired with apples and other fruits in pies. Cinnamon rolls, and cinnamon raisin bread are a favored baked item throughout the world. Cinnamon is a versatile spice. It can add zing to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on cereal. Most people think cinnamon should only be added to sweet dishes, however, can be added to soups, stews, and sauces.
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