Grind it, flavour with it or just add a bit to your coffee- Whatever you do don’t skip the Cinnamon!
It looks ordinary, in fact anyone can be deceived into thinking it’s just the bark of a plain ordinary tree. However, plain the humble Cinnamon may look, be assured that this isn’t just another ordinary kitchen ingredient, it is in fact a potent medicinal spice that has found mention in historical texts thousands of years ago.
Cinnamon- The wonder spice
Expounded over the centuries for its many healing properties, Cinnamon can be anything you want it to be. Popularly used as a flavorful spice in Indian/ western food, Cinnamon is also renowned for making a steaming cuppa of coffee all the more fragrant and distinct. That’s not all; historically too Cinnamon was considered worthy as a precious gift, fit to be given to kings and queens and was even used as a perfuming agent in the embalming process of the Egyptians.
Today, Cinnamon’s many medicinal properties continue to enthrall and amaze us with their versatility and efficacy, something that has remained unchanged over the centuries.
Nonetheless, do remember that there are two types of Cinnamon sticks that are available in the market, Ceylon cinnamon also referred to as ‘True’ cinnamon and the Cassia Cinnamon, which is otherwise known as Chinese cinnamon as it is mostly cultivated in China and Indonesia. The ‘true’ cinnamon is cultivated in Sri Lanka and is a native plant known as ‘Cinnamomum Zeylanicum’.
How it is made?
Cinnamon looks like the bark of a tree and indeed it is the inner bark of a tree – Cinnamomum. The tree takes nearly two years to grow from the seedling stage after which it is pruned down to ground stem level. The new stems that grow thereafter are cut and the inner bark is later extracted from this. Upon drying, it takes a curly form.
The oil of the cinnamon stick is a fragrant, pungent smelling extract, something which is the main component of cinnamon. The flavour and aroma is because of this oil, which we also know as cinnamaldehyde. The cinnamaldehyde is considered as the key component within which all the vital health advantages are locked in.
True Cinnamon versus Cassia Cinnamon
These two types of cinnamon do share some common characteristics, namely antimicrobial and traces of blood sugar regulating components, however the biggest difference is in the content amount of the compound coumarin. The Cassia Cinnamon species has large amounts of coumarin which is believed to be harmful in large doses as it has strong blood-thinning properties and prolonged ingestion of coumarin does result in serious health damages to the liver and kidney. True or Ceylon Cinnamon has lower levels of coumarin and is usually considered safer as compared to the Cassia variety.
* It is best advised to consult a health physician before consuming anything.
Let’s take a look at some of the extraordinary virtues of this wonder ‘True’ herb Anti-Microbial properties
Ever wondered why the westerners love to place this spice generously all over the house during festivities. Apart from the glorious, sweet fragrance of this spice, Cinnamon is also renowned for its anti fungal, anti microbial properties. The oil of Cinnamon is quite potent as an ‘anti-microbial’ component and there are studies suggesting that it does help to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus.
This is probably why you will also find cinnamon sticks as a fragrant food preservative substitute. What’s more, respiratory tract infections caused by fungi, tooth decay problems and bad breath issues are also addressed with cinnamon.
Diabetes and Sugar Control
Those with diabetes have found solace in cinnamon and its ground powder. However, here it is important to consult your doctor with regards to the type of Cinnamon fit for consumption; especially with regard to sugar control and especially so if you are on blood thinning medicines.
Adding cinnamon to savoury breads or to high carbohydrate snacks/ foods have shown to lessen the impact on blood sugar levels. It has been found that cinnamon did actually reduce fasting serum levels and also the pace at which the stomach empties after meals.
Furthermore, not just diabetes even those with triglycerides and cholesterol issues have found that Cinnamon aids in reduction and in some cases control of cardiovascular diseases too.