The aroma of any meal or pastry with cinnamon spice is divine! Added to a number of culinary dishes, cinnamon is an additive of the cinnamomum tree species. The spice is gotten from the inner-back of the tree and can be used dried or fresh. It was a gift befitting kings in ancient times. There are several health benefits of Cinnamon spice.
Cinnamon have been used in food in ancient Egypt as well as traditional medicine. It was a rare valuable spice and therefore, was regarded to as a gift fit for nobles and kings. Now however, it is available in various commercial food spices, used in dishes and pastry. It is found in teas, biscuits, cereals and a host of others.
There are different species of commercial cinnamon spices according to the tree it is obtained from. The cinnamon trees from which the cinnamon spices are obtained include Cinnamomum cassia (Chinese cinnamon), Cinnamomum burmannji (Indonesia cinnamon), Cinnamomum loureiroi (Vietnamese cinnamon), etc.
The most common cinnamon spice is obtained from the Cinnamomum cassia species and Cinnamomum verum, a variety which is also believed to be the “true cinnamon”.
Distribution of Cinnamon Spice
There are several species of cinnamon tree with each one with a unique aroma. Depending on the region and available specie, cinnamon spice is widely accepted. Several chefs and culinary experts includes the cinnamon spice in their meals and dishes.
World producers of commercial cinnamon spice include China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, India and the United States of America.
The Cinnamomum cassia is the dominant in China and the USA, Indonesia has the varieties Kurintje and Padang cassia, Vietnam with the Saigon cinnamon and Sri Lanka with Ceylon cinnamon.
Properties Of Cinnamon Spice
Cinnamon spice is the inner bark of the stem of cinnamon tree after the woody part is removed. The barks are left to dry and they curl into what we know as cinnamon sticks. The sticks are then grounded into cinnamon powder and packaged.
Cinnamon spice regardless of the parent tree contains cinnamaldehyde, an essential oil which gives the spice its unique taste and aroma. The oil is golden-yellow and is obtained through pounding the bark and distilling process. Cinnamaldehyde is believed to be responsible for the medicinal properties of cinnamon.
Minerals present in cinnamon include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, sodium and potassium. The vitamins in cinnamon are vitamins A, B, C, E and K.
A note of caution is important as cinnamon also contains coumarin. This is present in high amounts in the Cinnamomum cassia specie and when taken in large quantity can cause serious health issues. The Ceylon also called the true cinnamon has a low quantity of coumarin.
Health Benefits Of Cinnamon Spice
Cinnamon spice is not used because of its aroma, there are many health benefits to consuming cinnamon in meals. Many of these has been scientifically proved and medical practitioners encourage its consumption in the right quantity. From anti-cancer agents to easy metabolism, the cinnamon spice is highly medicinal.
Cinnamon is known to contain high amounts of polyphenol antioxidants. Antioxidants protects the body from the free radicals. The quantity of antioxidants in cinnamon spice is far greater than that of garlic and oregano. This makes cinnamon suitable for use as a natural food preservative.
Potential Anticancer Properties
Cancer is a chronic abnormal growth of cells, an illness prevalent in the world today. Animal and test-tube studies have shown that cinnamon extracts can be effective in protecting the cells from cancerous growth.
Cinnamon is an activator of detoxifying enzymes in the colon and also reduces the formation of red blood cells in tumors which eventually cause the death of such abnormal cell growth.
Bacterial And Fungal Infections
Cinnamaldehyde help to fight against infections such as respiratory tract infections. It also inhibits the growth of some bacteria such as Listeria and Salmonella. It is therefore used in the treatment of common colds. Cinnamon can also help prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath.
Cinnamon can also have anti-inflammatory properties which helps in exposure to diseases. It can also help to repair damaged body tissues.
Ease And Improve Neurodegenerative Diseases
The progressive loss of the structure and function of brain cells is referred to as neurodegenerative diseases. Example include Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. Cinnamon is seen to protect neurons and inhibit the buildup of tau, a protein in the brain which is the hallmark of Alzheimer.
Cinnamon can be used to treat diabetes as it has blood-sugar-lowering properties. This is because of its ability to decrease the glucose concentrate in the blood stream as well as insulin inhibition. This improves the glucose intake even though it acts slower than insulin.
The antidiabetic effect of cinnamon has been proved in humans as it shows that it can lower fasting blood sugar levels up to 29%. This is achieved with an intake of 6g or 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon on a daily basis.
Improve Sensitivity To Insulin Hormone
Insulin regulates metabolism, energy usage and transporting blood sugar from the bloodstream to the cells. Insulin resistance is a major cause of type 2 diabetes and cinnamon has the capacity to reduce insulin resistance.
Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
Cinnamon reduces the level of bad cholesterol which cause heart problems. An intake of half teaspoon of pure ground cinnamon spice can do the trick of saving a patient from the world’s most common source of premature death. Cinnamon can also increase good cholesterol levels.
Cinnamon spice obtained from the cinnnamomum tree is a delicious, healthy and nutritional spice widely accepted regardless of geographical location. It has many medicinal properties making a delight of nutritionists.
Cinnamon has healing properties which include insulin sensitivity, anticancer agents and rich antioxidants. It can also be used to treat common cold and respiratory tract infections.
Too much of everything is bad therefore, recommended doses should be adhered to whilst taking cinnamon spice especially for its medicinal uses. The Cinnamomum cassia specifically should be taken in correct measures because of its coumarin content.