If things are rare, we put far more value on them. Most people associate this particular spice with Easter or Christmas, or a bustling Moroccan market – but this spice is far more than just a flavour at certain times of the year. Its medicinal and immune boosting and should be used daily for its incredible health benefits. It is an ingredient that has been used throughout history, dating back as far as Ancient Egypt. It used to be rare and valuable and was regarded as a gift fit for kings, and although now, regarded as a readily available spice, found in most supermarkets, do we know the true health value of this magnificent powder?
I am talking about delicious Cinnamon. It is made by cutting the stems of cinnamon trees, then the inner bark is extracted, and the woody parts removed. When it dries, it forms strips that curl into rolls, called cinnamon sticks. These sticks can be ground to form cinnamon powder. The distinct smell (that you either love of hate!) and flavour of cinnamon are due to the oily part, which is very high in the compound cinnamaldehyde, which is the most powerful part for our health. Cinnamon is loaded with Antioxidants which are a well needed ingredient this time of year as they help to keep our immune systems fighting fit when it comes to coughs, colds and infections.
It’s also a great anti-inflammatory ingredient, so can help reduce pain in the body, plus it has been linked to a reduced the risk of heart disease, the world’s most common cause of premature death. In people with type 2 diabetes, 1 gram or about half a teaspoon of cinnamon per day has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood markers. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have also been found to be helped by this wonder spice. Two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the build-up of a protein called tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cinnamon is also being widely studied for its potential use in cancer prevention and treatment too. It acts by reducing the growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels in tumours, by appearing to be toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death.
Cinnamon oil has also been shown to be extremely effective when it comes to treating respiratory tract infections caused by fungi. It can also inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, including Listeria and Salmonella, so great for a spot of food poisoning too! It’s also very useful regards oral health and hygiene, helping to reduce infections and help fight tooth decay and bad breath.
At the end of the day, cinnamon is one of the most delicious and healthiest spices on the planet and has an impressive reputation for helping many health ailments. So, using it freely in your daily eating habits could have more benefits than you realised.
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