Derived from the bark of Cinnamomum trees in Southeast Asia, cinnamon has historically been used not only as a spice, but also as a medicine.
It is often listed among the superfoods – foods that provide significant health benefits – because it is rich in manganese, fiber, calcium, antioxidants, and other beneficial ingredients.
Studies of cinnamon’s health effects have yielded mixed results and more research is needed to prove anything conclusively.
However, a number of studies have suggested that it may act as an anti-inflammatory and an anti-microbial agent. Cinnamon contains essential oils that can prevent bacterial and fungal growth (including Candida yeast).
Adding cinnamon to foods can reduce their impacts on blood sugar levels (this means that cinnamon may be particularly beneficial for diabetics, those who are prone to hypoglycemia, and people who are trying to lose weight). Cinnamon consumption also appears to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants, so it may help protect against cancer, heart disease, and other health problems and the smell of cinnamon improves cognitive processing (tested using tasks that require memory, attention, and visual-motor speed).
Cinnamon is also high in fiber, which may relieve or reduce the diarrhea or constipation associated with irritable bowel syndrome for some IBS sufferers.
Cinnamon can be used to improve many different recipes, particularly baked goods. Ground cinnamon keeps for approximately six months if stored in a dark, dry, cool place in a sealed glass jar.
Cinnamon is generally considered safe in the quantities normally consumed (in meals and baked goods, on toast, in beverages, etc.), though it may have toxic effects at high doses.
Although cinnamon is often used as a complementary therapy for certain conditions, it is not a replacement for medical care. Health concerns should be referred to a qualified doctor.
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