The SweetnessofCinnamon-1

Cinnamon is among the most common spices used in the Western diet.  But, that is not saying much since spices are rarely included in daily consumption patterns in the U.S. (1).  Cinnamon is derived from the bark of the Cinnamomum genus of trees.  It is commonly used as a spice or flavoring agent, but it poses a variety of beneficial health effects.

Oral Health – Cinnamon has been shown to improve bad breath (2).  Perhaps this is the reason that cinnamon gum is so popular.  The antimicrobial effects of cinnamon kill the bacteria that causes bad breath.  It also kills the bacteria and other pathogens that are associated with dental cavities and gingivitis (3, 4).

Anti-inflammatory Agent – Chronic and excessive inflammation in the body are associated with the pathophysiology of many chronic diseases including heart disease and diabetes.  Cinnamon and its components have been found to be potent anti-inflammatory agents (5, 6, & 7).  Although there is not enough research to recommend cinnamon to treat inflammation, there is plenty of evidence to support adding it to the diet for preventative reasons.

Anti-cancer Agent – Researchers are evaluating the use of cinnamon extracts in the suppression of tumor growth and cancer cell death.  These extracts can inhibit cancer cell growth and development (8, 9, & 10).  One study even found that cassia cinnamon (the most common type found in the market) promoted death of human cervical cancer cells (11).  Of course, all of these studies have been completed in test tubes.  Animal and human research will provide more insight.

Antioxidant – All types of cinnamon have been found to be potent antioxidants (12, 13, 14, 15, & 16).  Antioxidants work by sacrificing themselves to oxidative damage so that other molecules will remain unharmed.  Excess oxidation often leads to inflammation and damage.  The consumption of antioxidants is necessary to ensure the body can maintain oxidative balance.

Anti-diabetic Agent? – There is evidence that cinnamon consumption lowers blood glucose in individuals with (17, 18) and without (19) type 2 diabetes. However, this is the cassia type cinnamon. Here comes the controversy…Cassia cinnamon contains a compound called coumarin (20).  This compound can be toxic to the liver and promotes cancer (20).  Too much coumarin is not desirable and, for a child, could be obtained from a single teaspoon of cassia cinnamon.  The other common type of cinnamon, Ceylon, does not contain coumarin BUT it also does not lower blood glucose (21).  So, use Ceylon cinnamon for all the other benefits, not this one.

Summary – The recommendation to the public: EAT CEYLON CINNAMON.  Make sure that you purchase and enjoy Ceylon cinnamon, not cassia.  If the label does not specify, assume that it is cassia.

There are many ways to get Ceylon cinnamon in your regular diet.  Mix it in your breakfast, in a shake, on your fruit, or in your tea.  See my “Cinnamon Squash and Sweet Potato Medley” recipe for a healthy way to get more cinnamon in your mouth.

© 2016 NOVEDGO


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