You love it in sweet buns or sprinkled on your latte but cinnamon has been prized for centuries for its medicinal properties. Today, scientific research is being conducted to support the many claims.
New research supports the idea of cinnamon as a metabolic powerhouse. People with diabetes have used cinnamon for years to control blood-sugar spikes and insulin resistance but this research also suggests a link to anti-aging, antioxidant control and other health benefits.
Biochemist Amy Stockert has spent years studying cinnamon at Ohio Northern University Raabe College of Pharmacy. Her research has proven that type 2 diabetics could significantly reduce their blood sugar levels by taking daily supplements.
She discovered that the effect continued even after the study’s participants stopped taking the supplements. This suggested that the changes were triggered at a cellular level. Stockers believe that certain compounds found in cinnamon interact with proteins effective as antioxidants and touted for anti-aging and cholesterol-lowering properties. “It means cinnamon is doing more than just lowering blood sugar,” says Stockert. “It’s acting on a protein that affects lipid metabolism, cell growth changes, and the expression of a variety of genes.”
Stockert’s earlier research showed that just moderate doses of cinnamon would reduce blood sugar as effectively as some prescription drugs so it is entirely possible similar doses would be effective in anti-aging, antioxidant control and many other important health benefits, smaller quantities, like those used in baking and cooking, could be all that’s needed to achieve those benefits.
Stockert’s findings are exciting but cinnamon’s health benefits are well documented. Here are a few of the benefits in brief.
Cinnamon lowers cholesterol. Anyone battling high cholesterol might want to consider taking cinnamon supplements. It lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and raises HDL (good cholesterol). HDL helps remove LDL cholesterol from the body. A recent study found that 120 milligrams daily would provide this benefit. Cinnamon has also been found to reduce blood pressure. These two factors reduce the risk of heart disease.
Because it slows the increase in blood sugars after a meal it helps the body deals with ingested fats so that high-fat meals won’t be as detrimental to your health. A study done in 2010 revealed that cinnamon helps build lean muscle and reduces body fat. Every teaspoon contains 1.3 grams of fiber which helps ward off hunger so you eat less.
Cinnamon is a healthy brain booster. It may also be key in warding off or delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Because it metabolizes into a chemical called sodium benzoate which promotes healthy neurons, normalizes brain cells and improves communication within the brain. A study by researchers at the Agricultural Research Service showed that cinnamon prevented brain cells from swelling in the ways typically seen after a stroke or traumatic brain injury.
In Finland, researchers identified one of cinnamon’s compounds, coumarin, as an anti-inflammatory, making it useful in fighting swelling and arthritis.
It’s easy to up your cinnamon intake. Add it to breakfast cereal, toast, curries, chilis or coffee. Do a quick search online and you’ll find hundreds of easy recipes using cinnamon. It works beautifully with apples, beets, carrots, chocolate, game meats, peaches, pumpkins and root vegetables.
If you want to combine it with other spices try allspice, bay leaves, cardamom, coriander, fennel, nutmeg or vanilla.