Following the smashing success of our previous blog posts on the health benefits of red wine, dark chocolate, nuts, and coffee, today we focus on cinnamon, the adored spice that elevates everything upon which it’s sprinkled, including the aforementioned food and beverage items (except red wine, though cinnamon often shows up in flavor profiles).
If you want the boring, albeit important history of cinnamon, click here. If you want to learn about its health benefits–and you know you do–read on.
Quick note: we do not endorse taking The Cinnamon Challenge…unless you’re good at it.
Types of Cinnamon
First, let’s identify the two main types of cinnamon (This information is only important if you feel the need to impress people at your next cocktail party):
Ceylon cinnamon – known as “true” cinnamon (as opposed to false?), derives from the Cinnamomum Zeylanicum plant in Sri Lanka, and is considered to be the sweet kind.
Cassia cinnamon – the more common kind that has stronger potency and is found in savory dishes.
1) Contains Antioxidants
Oh, antioxidants, we just can’t quit you. Antioxidants are the Kevin Bacon of health benefits for this series of blog posts. Not to sound like a broken record, but antioxidants are very good for the body because they fight free radicals and help protect against disease.
Cinnamon is rich with polyphenol antioxidants, which have tons of anti-inflammatory effects. Speaking of…
2) Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Inflammation is great for rafts but very bad for the body when there’s too much of it. Chronic inflammation can attack your body’s tissues and act as the precursor to illness and disease.
3) Improves Gut Health
The term “gut health” makes me cringe, but it’s popular, so we’ll roll with it. The enemy of your gut (ewwww) is pathogenic bacteria which can cause disease. The enemy of pathogenic bacteria is beneficial bacteria that is produced by prebiotics.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll naturally conclude that cinnamon contains prebiotic properties that can keep your insides healthy and clean.
4) May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the world’s most common cause of premature death. High levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are terrible for your ticker, but our friend, cinnamon, can reduce these levels and promote HDL cholesterol, which is the healthy kind.
5) Digestive Comfort
Lest you think cinnamon has run out of health benefits, here’s another:
Cinnamon is good for digestion. You are entitled to enjoy dining and feel comfortable afterward, and cinnamon extract is used to alleviate gastrointestinal issues. It also acts as an anti-microbe, which helps create digestive balance and ease discomforts like bloating and gas.
As we’re careful to note with these posts, you’ll only gain the health benefits of this ingredient if you consume it…healthily, as in having it with coffee (I’m a big fan) or tea rather than a bundt cake.
Go on and open your cupboard and give your cinnamon some love.