Whenever you read about ‘super foods’ and ingredients, Cinnamon always ranks highly for its protective and antioxidant characteristics. Here Ramon Levy-Vassie of Ceiba Drinks, which has recently launched a new range that uses cinnamon as its main ingredient, explains the benefits this ‘wonder’ spice delivers and why we should be consuming more of it on a daily basis.
This powerful spice has been used medicinally for thousands of years and is still in daily use in many cultures because of its far reaching health benefits; not to mention its wonderful natural sweetness and warming taste.
The health benefits of Cinnamon can be obtained by consuming it in various forms that include pure bark, essential oils, from ground spice derived from powdered bark, or in extract form, when its special phenolic compounds, flavonoids, and antioxidants are isolated. But what health benefits can this super spice deliver? A daily intake of as little as half a teaspoon of Cinnamon can have positive effects on blood sugar levels, digestion, immunity and more, however, in stronger doses there are other proven benefits and these include:
Antioxidant: Ranked seventh[i] on the ORAC scale which measures the concentration of antioxidants in all foods, the health properties of Cinnamon are attributed to the types of antioxidants that can be found in other superfoods such as berries, red wine and dark chocolate, which fight oxidative stress, which if unchecked can lead to disease formation[ii]. The antioxidants in Cinnamon are free radical scavengers with the ability to limit nitric oxide build up in the blood and lipid peroxidation, which if unchecked can lead to brain disorders, cancer, heart disease and other conditions.[iii]
Anti-inflammatory: The antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory properties[iv] which can lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and brain function decline. Cinnamon lowers swelling and inflammation and is a good pain management supplement, relieving muscle soreness, the severity of allergic reactions, as well as symptoms of age related pain[v].
Improves Heart Health: Regular studies continue to prove that one of the major health benefits of Cinnamon is that it reduces the most common risks of heart disease, namely high cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels and high blood pressure[vi]. Cinnamon also increases blood circulation and advances the body’s ability to heal itself, which includes heart tissue which needs regeneration to fight heart attacks, heart disease and stroke.
Helps Fight Diabetes: Cinnamon is recognised as having anti-diabetic qualities, lowering blood sugar levels plus improving sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which is vital to keep blood sugar levels balanced.[vii] Cinnamon blocks certain enzymes called ‘alanines’, which allows glucose to be absorbed into the blood. Various studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes can experience significant positive effects on blood sugar markers by taking Cinnamon supplement[viii].
Protects brain function: It has been proven that Cinnamon can defend against cognitive decline and protects against brain function[ix]. One of the ways Cinnamon does this is by activating neuro-protective proteins that protect the brain cells from mutation and undergoing damage, stopping cells from morphing and self-destruction. The many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds Cinnamon contains reduce the effect of aging on the body and brain, which may in the future be used as a possible therapeutic treatment or prevention for age-related degenerative diseases.
Lowers risk of cancer: Studies have proven that the antioxidant properties of Cinnamon can help protect against DNA damage, cell mutation and cancerous tumour growth. It is thought that ‘cinnamaldehyde’, the compound within Cinnamon can inhibit the growth of the cancer tumour, protecting the DNA from damage[x]. This is especially true in the colon[xi].
Fights infections and viruses: Cinnamon is a natural anti-microbial, anti-biotic, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent, with immune boosting properties within its essential oils[xii]. Used in many cultures to fight infections and virus’s Cinnamon oils also have protective abilities against various infections that can affect the surface of the skin and lead to colds or the flu.
Aids dental health: Cinnamon has been shown to be protective against bacterial living in the oral microflora that could cause bad breath, tooth decay, cavities and mouth infections. The essential oils from Cinnamon are seen as a potent compound that naturally combats bacteria in the mouth, acting like a natural anti‑bacterial mouthwash. As a result Cinnamon is often used as a flavouring for chewing gums[xiii].
Prevents Candida:With powerful anti-fungal properties Cinnamon is effective in stopping and curing Candida overgrowth in the gut, as it has been shown to lower the amounts of Candida albicans, a yeast that causes overgrowth of Candida in the digestive tract[xiv].
Benefits skin health: Applying Cinnamon as an essential oil directly to the skin can be helpful in reducing inflammation, swelling, pain, allergic reactions and redness, and when used with honey can boost skin health and are beneficial for acne and rosacea[xv].
Fights allergies: Cinnamon has been shown to be helpful in fighting allergy symptoms, as it can reduce inflammation, fights histamine reactions, and has been proven to reduce the symptoms of asthma attacks.[xvi] In essential oil form, Cinnamon has immune-boosting abilities, is beneficial for absorbing nutrients during digestion, which can reduce auto immune reactions when absorbing food.[xvii]
Used as a natural sweetener: Naturally sweet, Cinnamon contains no sugar plus it has an anti-diabetic effect that slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream. This helps to manage food cravings and weight gain. Adding Cinnamon to coffee, tea, other beverages, baked goods, yoghurt or fruit, can help reduce the intake of calories, helping fights weight gain as well as low energy levels.
As a natural food preservative: Because Cinnamon has anti-bacterial properties and acts as an anti-oxidant, it can be used as a preservative for many foods, negating the need for chemicals and artificial ingredients[xviii]. Cinnamon can play a part in the action of tyrosinase inhibitors, which are useful in helping stop fruit and vegetables from discolouring, oxidising and rotting.
Ramon Levy-Vassie concluded: “Cinnamon is one of the most beneficial spices on earth, with fantastic anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, immunity‑boosting and potential cancer and heart disease-protecting abilities. It delivers so many health benefits making it a real super food and one everybody should consume more of it which is why we have made it an integral part of our new drinks range.”
“We are still discovering some of the beneficial properties that this spice delivers but the nutritional benefits in a single tablespoon of ground Cinnamon include 3% of daily value of vitamin K, 4% of your daily value of iron, 8% of your daily value of calcium. And a massive 68% of your daily value of manganese. What’s more at only 19 calories per tablespoon it has zero grams of fat, sugar or protein and 4 grams of fibre. Based on the information already available shouldn’t you be increasing your daily intake of Cinnamon?”
[v] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23717759 / https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25629927
[xvi] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01267773 /https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/cpb1958/23/5/23_5_941/_article/-char/ja/ / https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ptr.5269
[xvii] https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-60761-061-8_30 /https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960852407006098 /https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464614000061