Everyone has Cinnamon tucked away in their pantry closet. Everybody has smelled its distinctive, warm aroma. Everybody knows how much it can elevate a dish, how much flavor it can infuse. But did you know cinnamon is basically the superhero of plants?
Let’s check out what superpowers this mighty plant is hiding under its super suit!
Cinnamomum Verum, or Cinnamon, is a spice native to Asia. The word “cinnamon” comes from the Ancient Greeks, who named the planet “kinnámōmon,” or “sweet wood” because of its distinctive tree bark-like appearance. For centuries, people have used extracts, oils, and powders from cinnamon leaves and bark to season meat, fish, sauces, and beverages.
It is also commonly used in baked goods and pastries such as cakes and sweets, and as an alternative to synthetic food preservatives. In fact, it’s so versatile that it can be found in just about any dish, from appetizers to desserts.
Cinnamon, like most aromatic plants, is packed with proteins; fibers; volatile compounds; vitamins A, B-complex, and C; minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron; and chemical compounds known to help prevent disease and promote good health.
In addition to all these nutrients, aromatic plants also contain natural bio-compounds called “phenolic compounds” which function as antioxidants in plant extracts. Cinnamon extracts, in particular, contain a considerable amount of phenolic antioxidants and other molecules you may have heard of, called flavonoids, which can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
But that’s just the beginning! The chemical compounds found in cinnamon have also exhibited antidotal and protective properties against many of the natural and artificially produced toxins we’re exposed to on a daily basis.
Additionally, a2018 study by Vasconcelos, found that the molecules present in cinnamon are able to work in conjunction with modern antibiotics to enhance a patient’s response against a wide range of bacterial species.
It’s also common for cinnamon compounds to be added to chewing gum due to their refreshing mouthfeel and their ability to remove bad breath. Need proof? Well, one dental study found that giving participants a cinnamon-containing mouth rinse for 30 days reduced the amount of bacteria-containing biofilm, or plaque, on their teach, as well as minimized their inflammatory gingivitis. The cinnamon rinse was similar in strength to chlorhexidine, a disinfect often used in mouthwash.
But cinnamon isn’t just helpful in fighting bacteria! One study found that some women with rheumatoid arthritis, when given cinnamon for eight weeks alongside their normal antirheumatic drugs, responded better to the medicine than women who didn’t receive cinnamon. The women who received cinnamon also exhibited a reduction in blood markers for inflammation.
It’s common knowledge that more and more people are diagnosed with diabetes each year. But what does that have to do with cinnamon? Well, a study conducted by Hendre and colleagues found that people with type 2 diabetes who took cinnamon supplements for three months showed a decrease in post-meal blood glucose levels, as well as a reduction in insulin resistance. Other studies have shown that consuming cinnamon powder or a cinnamon extract-based beverages alongside foods that tend to raise, blood sugar such as rice or bread, can attenuate a rise in blood sugar levels.
It’s common for people to follow unbalanced diets, perhaps because they prefer foods that are heavy in fats or carbohydrates. Fortunately, the incorporation of cinnamon in a high-fat meal has been show to have two benefits: a reduction in CRP levels and a reduction in metabolic endotoxemia, both of which are considered indicators of decreased risk for metabolic complications related to chronic inflammation.
You’re also probably wondering if it’s safe to start including more cinnamon in your diet. Well, cinnamon as a spice of flavoring agent is generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and, even though adverse reactions to cinnamon were occasionally noted in clinical trials and case reports, such events were typically allergic responses or gastrointestinal distress, and were generally minor and self-limiting. Basically, cinnamon is safe, but if you think you might be allergic, talk to a doctor.
Eating cinnamon in a yogurt matrix can help to improve the absorption of its antioxidant phenolic compounds. Yogurt is acidic and appears to be an excellent delivery vehicle for plant-derived phenolic compounds due to the stabilizing affect its acidity has on cinnamon compounds. The proteins and fats in yogurt also give cinnamon compounds easier access to your body. If you’re looking to get healthy by eating cinnamon, then yogurt would be a great snack!