Cinnamon, in addition to lending itself to different uses in the kitchen, also offers many benefits for our health. So let’s discover all the properties of cinnamon and its contraindications.
Known since ancient times, cinnamon was initially appreciated above all for its antiseptic qualities, but in recent years several researches have confirmed a series of other interesting benefits that this spice brings to our body.
From the cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum verum) we get the cinnamon powder, the sticks and the essential oil of cinnamon that lend themselves to different uses: the first is perfect for flavoring savory or sweet dishes, the sticks are ideal instead for preparing cinnamon infusions while the essential oil is excellent to spread at home or to use as a natural remedy in some situations. Now let’s see in detail all the properties of cinnamon.
Cinnamon: properties and benefits
Both ground cinnamon and sticks offer various benefits to our body. Among the most interesting is certainly its effect on the balance of blood sugar, it is in fact able to regulate blood sugars and is therefore one of the most suitable natural remedies in case of type 2 diabetes or for the prevention of this disease.
Cinnamon powder, like the whole bark, is rich in active ingredients that can also reduce triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol. But the properties of cinnamon do not end here: some research has in fact shown the antibacterial properties of this spice which acts in all respects as a natural antibiotic and which is also active against fungi (including Candida).
According to traditional Chinese medicine, cinnamon is useful in fighting colds and intestinal viruses but it is also a good source of important minerals such as manganese, iron and calcium.
It also has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving qualities, there are those who use it successfully against cramps and discomfort due to premenstrual syndrome but also in case of pain due to arthritis. It can also help when you have a sore throat and flu.
The use of cinnamon is excellent for keeping the gastrointestinal system in good health. This spice, in fact, improves digestion, supports the intestine and helps to counteract nausea. Furthermore, it is particularly appreciated for its fat-burning qualities (in fact it reduces the absorption of lipids) as well as for the fact of increasing the sense of satiety. These properties naturally see it as an ally in weight loss obviously associated with a balanced diet, correct portions and food combinations and the right amount of physical activity.
Some research has linked the use of this spice to the prevention of certain types of cancer, as some active ingredients of cinnamon would be able to prevent the formation of cancerous cells.
Last but not least benefits are the antioxidant capacity and the ability to improve memory and cognitive functions.
How much cinnamon to consume per day
Cinnamon is a spice and, as such, should be used in modest quantities. Generally it is recommended not to exceed 3 or 4 grams of cinnamon per day, equal to about a teaspoon. An overdose could lead to some consequences, including liver problems.
Some advice on how to use Cinnamon
How to use Cinnamon in cooking
Ground cinnamon or bark lend themselves to a variety of uses in the kitchen. A small amount of this spice can be used to give an unmistakable flavor to foods and goes well especially with biscuits and desserts such as apple pie or the classic strudel of which it is a fundamental ingredient.
A sprinkle of poor cinnamon will also make a hot chocolate, cooked apples, smoothies, centrifuges or pancakes more particular and tasty but it will also prove excellent for flavoring tea or coffee. Cinnamon sticks, on the other hand, are used by letting it simmer with other ingredients to give flavor to recipes; once cooking is finished, it can be removed. In this way it can also be used several times.
As for savory recipes, on the other hand, a typical cinnamon -based dish is spiced rice or some curries. If you want to experiment with spicy risotto you can add a cinnamon stick, a teaspoon of pepper and a teaspoon of cumin seeds to the classic garlic and onion-based saute, then proceeding to the preparation of the risotto as usual. The advantages of using cinnamon in the kitchen are many: it disinfects dishes, helps them to be more digestible, helps to increase the sense of satiety and, of course, gives an unmistakable flavor. Finally, cinnamon can be used to prepare delicious herbal teas.
Cinnamon as a natural remedy
Cinnamon is an excellent natural remedy for keeping blood sugars at bay but also perfect for fighting sore throats and colds as well as for promoting digestion. A constant but moderate food consumption allows to obtain various benefits, the generally recommended dose is that of a teaspoon to be used throughout the day through food or drink.
In case of diabetes, ask your doctor for advice on how to best use the potential of the cinnamon tree for glycemic balance.
Absolutely try the cinnamon tea that is prepared using bark sticks or alternatively the cinnamon spice powder. Just boil a cup of water and then break up the cinnamon stick leaving it to infuse for about 10/15 minutes before filtering and drinking. To make it richer and tastier, you can add orange slices and honey. Cinnamon tea is useful for promoting digestion, calming abdominal cramps, reducing swelling, fighting constipation, eliminating a little sense of hunger and stimulating blood circulation.
Cinnamon essential oil, on the other hand, is excellent for its positive effect on mood. Spreading a little of it in the rooms (1 drop per square meter) will make the atmosphere warmer, more welcoming and will have an energized effect. This essential oil, which is obtained from the bark of the cinnamon tree, is also slightly aphrodisiac. It can also be used as a natural remedy to promote digestion by massaging the abdomen (a drop of essential oil is enough for a spoonful of carrier oil such as sweet almond oil). Move your hands slowly and clockwise, breathing deeply.
Contraindications of cinnamon
Cinnamon has no major contraindications as long as it is used in low doses (generally it is recommended not to exceed 3 grams per day). With an overdose you risk allergy problems, irritation or liver problems caused by an excess of coumarin, a substance present in cinnamon. The use of this spice, if not sporadic, is not recommended in case of pregnancy, lactation and some pathologies affecting the kidneys or liver.
If you use pure essential oil on the skin, allergic reactions can occur, leading to manifestations of hives. Keep in mind that cinnamon can interact with drugs (interactions with NSAIDs and anticoagulants are known), so always make sure you can use cinnamon with the help of your doctor if you are taking drugs. Many natural products, in fact, can interact with medicines.