Used by the Egyptians since at least 2000 B.C., cinnamon ranks as one of our oldest and most exotic spices. It’s also one of the healthiest, offering an array of nutritional and preventative health benefits. Two types of cinnamon are commonly found in the kitchen — cassia cinnamon, which is primarily produced in Indonesia and carries a stronger scent and flavor; and Ceylon cinnamon, which is milder, more expensive and primarily produced in Sri Lanka. Although both types of cinnamon contain healthful properties, doctors caution against consuming too much cassia cinnamon, as its some of its chemical compounds can harm the liver.
No matter when and how you use cinnamon, your health is sure to benefit from the many functions of this nutrient-rich spice:
A known anti-inflammatory, cinnamon is used to treat everything from coughs to gastrointestinal issues. It’s also a popular choice for athletes hoping to improve their performance by preventing inflammation.
One of cinnamon’s essential oils, cinnamaldehyde, prevents blood platelets from unnecessary clumping and clogging inside of the blood vessels.
Cinnamon is exceptionally high in manganese, which helps with bone formation and maintaining healthy skin.
The fiber and calcium found in cinnamon work together to remove bile from the body. Bile removal reduces the risk of colon cancer, while simultaneously lowering cholesterol levels, which can prevent heart disease.
Studies have shown that cinnamon can lower and help regulate blood sugar levels, which can especially benefit people with diabetes.
Don’t count cinnamon out as a weight-loss tool. Cinnamon makes your body feel fuller longer, decreasing the risk of over-eating. And because cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels, it prevents excess fat from being stored in the body.
While cinnamon is often used in baking, its presence is not as common in our day-to-day activities. If you’ve never had cinnamon in coffee, sprinkle some on next time for a surprisingly delicious drink. It’s also easily incorporated into basic items, such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes and toast.