Health Benefits Of Cinnamon
That cinnamon has health benefits has been well-known for over 5000 years. This was recognized by the Egyptians, ancient Romans, and Chinese, some of whom considered the spice more precious than gold. Its first mention is in a Chinese botanical book from approximately 2700 BC.
Though not fully understood in ancient times, we now know that cinnamon has anti-microbial and anti-clotting properties. Recent studies show its health benefits to include controlling blood sugar, improving colon and heart health and boosting brain power. These benefits are attributed to 3 main essential oils found in this tasty bark - cinnamyl alcohol, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamaldehyde (as well as other substances).
The cinnamaldehyde is responsible for cinnamon's benefits in preventing blood clotting and has been well researched. It helps to prevent platelets from clumping together by inhibiting the release of arachidonic acid. This also causes it to be a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Cinnamon has been shown to be an anti-microbial food. Cinnamon's properties have made it efficacious also as a food preservative. In fact, one study done by the International Journal of Food Microbiology showed that adding a couple of drops of cinnamon essential oil to some carrot broth (which was then refrigerated) inhibited the growth of Bacillus cereus for 60 days.
Most recently, another health benefit has been discovered, the role of cinnamon in improving the insulin response of those with type 2 diabetes. In animals, humans, and test tubes, cinnamon has shown to be able to improve insulin activity and help with the absorption of glucose. Recent studies on animals show it can even help to prevent insulin resistance, including on rats that were given a high fructose diet.
Another interesting health benefit: it is thought by some that simply smelling cinnamon can improved cognitive function. One study showed that smelling cinnamon or chewing cinnamon flavored gum, participants showed improved attention, working memory, virtual recognition memory, and motor speed.1
One of the other health benefits of cinnamon is that it has calcium and fiber which can help protect the colon and the heart. It is also a source of manganese and iron. The calcium and fiber bind to bile salts and can remove them from the body - these salts can damage colon cells. Also, once this bile is removed, the body has to break down cholesterol to make new bile so this can help lower cholesterol level as well.
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- Zoladz P, Raudenbush B, Lilley S. Cinnamon perks performance. From a paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, held in Sarasota, FL, April 21-25, 2004.