If I told you that a key ingredient for cinnamon rolls demonstrated one of Nature’s strongest antioxidant activity would you be excited? If you jumped for joy, I’m going to have to ask you to sit back down. While cinnamon has proven anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, baked goods have not. Trust me, I’m still waiting for the studies. But as we await the verdict, let’s review the healing health benefits of cinnamon, along with how to make an aromatic cup of cinnamon tea.
Before We Begin…
Generally, when shopping for cinnamon you will have two options available; Cassia or Ceylon cinnamon. While both varieties provide proven health benefits, Cassia cinnamon contains a significantly higher amount of coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon. Coumarin is a compound that may be harmful if consumed in large quantities.
Ceylon cinnamon is known as the “true” cinnamon and comes from a rarer tree, which results in the price being more expensive. Cassia cinnamon comes from trees that are more common and ultimately, less expensive. Always be sure to check the label when shopping for cinnamon. If it doesn’t specifically say Ceylon cinnamon, then you can safely assume it’s not.
Cinnamon Tea Health Benefits
When it comes to optimizing our health, antioxidants play a very important. How? Antioxidants protect our bodies from the oxidative damage that free radicals inflict. This protection aids our bodies in fighting disease as well as slowing aging (all about that!). Antioxidant such as polyphenols, flavonoids and phenolic acid are found in cinnamon, making this aromatic spice a rich source of protective compounds.
Often when we think of healing herbs and spices rosemary, garlic and thyme are the first that come to mind. However, in this study that compared the antioxidant capacity of twenty-six spices, cinnamon emerged the winner. While this doesn’t give liberty to go wild eating sweet, gooey cinnamon rolls (one can dream…), it does demonstrate the positive impact cinnamon can have when it comes to our health.
Inflammation has a necessary function in our bodies. Per research, inflammation is a natural response to damage that helps our bodies to repair and heal. However, when the inflammation does not subside, this is what is known as chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is damaging to the body and is found to be the root of various diseases. Antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties can help to support cardiovascular health, fight cancer and lower the risk of disease.
Researchers have found that the antioxidants found in cinnamon have strong anti-inflammatory properties, which aid in reducing inflammation in the body. This reduction in inflammation can also have positive effects when it comes to managing pain. This inflammation study conducted on athlete women found that after consuming cinnamon for six weeks, muscle soreness was reduced.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. In the United States, around 610,000 people die from heart disease each year, which averages to one in every four deaths. Not a fan of these stats? Keep reading.
Cinnamon has been shown in studies to lower the risk factors that contribute to heart diseases, such as high cholesterol and triglycerides. This study conducted on type 2 diabetes patients found that cinnamon consumption could decrease total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels. Additionally, levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased.
Cinnamon has also been shown to effectively reduce high blood pressure, another risk factor for heart disease.
The hormone insulin helps to regulate the amount of glucose in our blood and its transport into our cells. Insulin resistance is when our body’s cells don’t respond to insulin. My doctor described it as throwing a party and though insulin shows up, nobody really notices it. So, instead of glucose entering our cells like normal, it builds up in our blood.
Insulin resistance (IR) is quite common and while being diagnosed with IR does not mean you will develop type 2 diabetes, it does increase the risk. For this reason, it’s important to have a healthy discussion with your doctor to understand your individual risks and how to manage it.
The powerful antioxidant properties of cinnamon have led to studies on its potential use in preventing and fighting cancer. Research suggests that cinnamon extracts help to combat cancer by reducing cancer cell growth as well as encouraging cancer death (cell apoptosis). In this study, results show that compounds in cinnamon extract inhibit tumor cell proliferation in vitro and induced active cell death of tumor cells.
Though further research is required with respect to cinnamon’s spectrum of use a natural cancer-fighting agent, its proven anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative (limit the spread of cells) and pro-apoptotic (causes cell-death) properties are promising.
Cinnamon is commonly used a medicinal thanks to the anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties that it naturally possesses. This is due largely in part to cinnamaldehyde, the main component that gives cinnamon it’s ability to combat illness. Cinnamaldehyde’s antifungal and antibacterial properties found in cinnamon tea, can help to reduce infections, combat tooth decay, and heal sore throats.
Basic Cinnamon Tea Recipe
3” piece of cinnamon stick or ½-1 teaspoon of organic cinnamon powder
1 cup of water
Raw honey to sweeten (optional)
To prepare the cinnamon tea, boil a 3-inch piece of cinnamon stick in 1¼ cups of water for 15-20 minutes. Let steep for 15 minutes.
If using cinnamon powder, mix ½ to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder with hot water and stir. Let steep for 15 minutes. When the tea has cooled to a comfortable sipping temperature, add the raw honey. High heat will destroy the natural goodness raw honey contains, therefore you want the tea to cool to a comfortable sipping temperature first. Sip to enjoy.
Also published on Medium.