Cinnamon – the Spice of Life!
I love that sweet, woody scent of cinnamon sticks; for me it’s always been one of those special fragrances and flavours that I can’t get enough of… up there with vanilla bean, peppermint, licorice, basil and orange. Only since managing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome however, did I research into the properties of cinnamon in greater detail, and realise just how special it is for health and well-being.
So much more than a fabulous and fragrant spice, cinnamon has been around since biblical days and used by many cultures for all sorts of medical issues – particularly upset stomachs and diarrhoea – but also for its brain activity enhancing qualities. More recently, cinnamon has been used to assist with serious medical conditions such as cancer and diabetes.
Cinnamon provides high amounts of calcium and fibre, as well as 68% of the daily recommended dose of manganese. “Manganese is a trace mineral that helps the body form strong bones, connective tissues, and sex hormones, and coagulates the blood properly. It helps metabolize fat and carbohydrates, regulate blood sugar, absorb calcium, and is essential for optimal brain and nerve function. As if that’s not enough, it’s also a component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase, which helps neutralize free radicals that can damage cell membranes and DNA. Proper levels of manganese have been linked to the prevention of diabetes, arthritis, epilepsy, and even PMS” (Mercola).
That all sounds like really good stuff for mid-life maintenance, right? But there’s more… and continues to be more medical evidence based findings as further tests using cinnamon are carried out. It has an amazing effect on blood glucose and insulin sensitivity, which is one of the reasons you will find it in so many breakfast cereals (although I’d recommend making your own version of cereal, so you know exactly what’s in it). It’s also been found to block the development of cancer and inhibit tumour growth.
Cinnamon is also antibacterial (used by the Egyptians in the mummification process) and a preservative (will make foods ‘keep’ longer in the refrigerator, for example). It can be beneficial for arthritis, irritable bowel and candida yeast infections. It also assists digestion and brain function.
During CFS, I was absolutely sure it had a positive impact on two nagging symptoms; my poor memory and poor mood. I believe it provided a boost to both of these, and that’s why I have continued to include it in my diet. Now, in menopause, there is a third reason why I reach for it daily…. it’s also a weight loss aid! It is a metabolism booster, and we all need a helping hand with our sluggish mid-life metabolisms that are causing the extra weight gain around our middles 🙂
It is cinnamon’s blood thinning properties that improve blood circulation and thereby boost the metabolism that help with weight loss. Just don’t go taking it in crazy large doses as it can also cause liver damage. However, ½ a teaspoon to one teaspoon full is all you ever really need to add to whatever you are having it in. The flavour is intense and subtle is best.
I add it to black tea, smoothies, stewed fruits, porridge, curries, many puddings and healthy sweet treats. Adding a pinch to a black tea or coffee, along with a drop of vanilla essence and a dollop of coconut or cacao butter will give your metabolism a wake-up call each morning. See my post ‘Good morning metabolism’. It’s amazing how well it goes in sweet or savoury dishes.
I love banana squished on toast with cinnamon on top, as well as a drizzle of honey and a scattering of pumpkin seeds… a really great snack. Porridge with cinnamon, honey and blueberries is also a favourite way to start the day. Cinnamon goes really well with all the berries, as well as with chocolate… and there is no denying the mood enhancing joy that comes with a hot cup of chai tea, the best cure for those winter blues!
No wonder this bark used to be more valuable than gold!