Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cinnamon: Sweet and Spice and Everything Nice...and healthy!

Cinnamon is known as the world’s oldest spice, having been used for the past 2000 years. You may use it in your cooking and baking or to scent your house during the autumn months, but do you know about cinnamon’s numerous health benefits?

I learned about cinnamon’s health benefits several years ago and have tried to incorporate it into my food as much as possible. It’s lovely fragrance makes it even more appealing.

Cinnamon has long been known to help lower blood sugar levels. Although research continues, it’s understood that cinnamon helps insulin work better in your body. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas which is released into the blood when you consume carbohydrates. Once the carbohydrates are broken down into their simplest form, glucose, insulin is responsible for bringing the glucose into the cell where it is used for energy production. Diabetes results when blood sugar levels are too high. Research has demonstrated that just ½ teaspoon daily of cinnamon can help balance blood sugar levels. Cinnamon oil is not recommended for internal use.

Cinnamon is also considered a muscle relaxant and digestive aid. That means it can assist with intestinal cramps and gas as well as menstrual and night time leg cramps.

Most commonly I use cinnamon in my morning smoothies but it’s a wonderfully flavorful addition to healthy baked goods. I love meals inspired by the Mediterranean region of the world and cinnamon is often a subtle flavor in many of my main dishes. Regardless of how you incorporate cinnamon into your diet, I highly recommend it.

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