Cinnamon is a spice which you are likely to find in many kitchen shelves. It is a fa-vorite of many people given the savory taste it adds to food. It is in fact the second most popular spice after black pepper in the United States and Europe.
Cinnamon is obtained from the inner bark of a number of tropical trees of the genus Cinnamomum. The barks are harvested during the rainy season when they are softer and then dried into curls. These curls can then be sold as sticks or ground into cin-namon powder.
Cinnamon adds a sweet and warm flavor to food. It is mostly used in baked prod-ucts and beverages but it can also be used in stews and sauces. Examples of baked foods which are prepared using cinnamon include bread, cake, buns, rolls, pies, and muffins.
Cinnamon does not only add flavor to food, it also offers a number of nutritional and health benefits. The benefits are as described below:
It reduces the risk of heart disease
Cinnamon helps in lowering the level of triglycerides and other harmful fats in the blood. This serves to reduce the risk of heart disease as high level of triglycerides and other fats can cause heart disease. In a study conducted by Penn State research-ers, adding cinnamon to fatty meals was found to reduce triglycerides by 30%.
It lowers blood sugar level
Cinnamon has been found to be effective in lowering the blood sugar levels. In an analysis of several research studies in 2011, cinnamon was found to lower fasting blood glucose levels. In relation to this, cinnamon reduces the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. It can also be effective in managing type 2 diabetes in patients. Cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels through two major ways. First, it slows down the empty-ing of the stomach and therefore reduces sharp increases in blood sugar after meals. Secondly, cinammon increases the sensitivity and effectiveness of insulin.
It enhances brain function
A study carried out by scientists from Wheeling Jesuit University showed that cin-namon can improve cognitive processing. Volunteers who took part in the study were asked to carry out some computer-based tasks while chewing unflavored gum and chewing gum with various flavors including cinnamon. Those who chewed cin-namon-flavored gum registered better cognitive processing than those who did not. They scored higher than the rest in the computer-based tests.
It helps with fungal infections
Cinnamon helps to stop resistant yeast infections such as those due to Candida al-bicans. Both cinnamon oil and cinnamon bark are effective in curing infections caused by Candida. Cinnamon bark inhibits Candida activity while Cinnamon oil inhibits Candida activity and kills them too.
It gives relief from stomach bug
Cinnamon has antibacterial properties which are effective against bacteria which cause stomach flu like E.coli and Salmonella. Cinnamon oil also contains cin-namodehyde, a substance that acts against Adenovirus. Adenovirus causes stomach illnesses when it gets into the body through contaminated food and water.
It helps to strengthen bones
Cinnamon contains high levels of manganese and manganese helps in the building of bones, blood and other connective tissues. People who take cinnamon are therefore at a reduced risk of suffering from osteoporosis. This is a condition which is charac-terised by wasting of bones.
Other benefits of cinnamon include its antioxidant properties and its ability to stop the formation of blood clots. Cinnamon also helps in relaxing muscles and for this reason, it is often used in massage therapy. In addition, cinnamon helps with sore throat, colds, and cough. It helps with tooth problems too.
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