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Are you one of those who loves to indulge in beverages and desserts flavoured with cinnamon? Or do you belong to the health and fitness-conscious category, who wants to experiment with cinnamon for its amazing health benefits? It hardly matters what side you belong to, because at the end of the day, it all boils down to the kind of cinnamon you’re using.
The sweet aromatic spice cinnamon is also known as dalchini, it is a popular and a commonly-used kitchen ingredient in India. For thousands of years, cinnamon has been used in traditional medicine for its magical healing powers. Modern science has now proven what our grandmothers have known for ages.
Cinnamon is a spice made from the inner bark of the tree, cinnamomum. There are mainly two types of cinnamon available: verum species is the actual cinnamon species. Verum means ‘true’, thus it’s called ‘true cinnamon’ or also ceylon cinnamon. These days, true cinnamon is substituted with an inferior species known as cassia cinnamon, which is much cheaper and more commonly available.
True cinnamon is delicate and soft, and can thus be easily powdered, while cassia is a rough and hard variety, which is difficult to powder. True cinnamon has a more gentle and sweet flavour, as compared to the harsh and sharp flavour of cassia cinnamon. More importantly, cassia cinnamon contains a compound called coumarin, which can be toxic if consumed in large quantities. It’s quite easy to exceed the upper limit of coumarin, if one consumes too much cassia cinnamon. Just one or two teaspoons could bring someone over the daily limit.
Even though both cassia and ceylon cinnamon are healthy, because of its high coumarin levels cassia cinnamon is unsafe when used daily. Ceylon cinnamon has relatively low levels of coumarin. Thus, daily cinnamon consumers should pick ceylon cinnamon, since it is of better quality and is much safer to use.
Safe use of this delicious aromatic spice can help people reap the following health benefits:
Cinnamon helps in regulating the production of insulin (key hormone of diabetes) and reduces insulin resistance in the body. This helps in managing blood sugar levels. Including a pinch of cinnamon in your daily diet is proven to improve and maintain glycemic levels.
In Ayurveda, cinnamon is known to be a natural digestive with high potency, which boosts digestion, relieves flatulence, abdominal pain and gas. By promoting digestion, it also helps in burning belly fat. Further, it helps detox the GI tract, while strengthening digestion, improving absorption and supporting healthy blood sugar.
Cinnamon is abundant in protective antioxidants that reduce free radical damage and slow down the ageing process. It helps the body fight infections and repair tissue damaging agents. Its warming properties comfort, soothe and help clear out the airways, making it useful as part of treatment for respiratory infections (even for common cold).
The primary cause of pain in conditions like arthritis and headaches is inflammation. Flavonoids found in cinnamon effectively fight inflammation throughout the body and help reduce the systemic inflammation, thus improving both arthritis pain and headaches.
Cinnamon helps in reducing common risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels and high blood pressure, which helps in keeping the heart function efficient and disease-free.
1. The best way is to have cinnamon-infused water. Soak cinnamon bark in water overnight and consume the infused water the next day.
2. Sip on cinnamon tea. Make a cup of brewed black or green tea, add a pinch of cinnamon, ginger, three to four black peppercorns, one teaspoon raw honey, and juice of fresh lemon. This serves as the best protection for common cold and cough in the winter season.
3. Add cinnamon sticks to pulao or regular steamed rice, during preparation.
4. Sprinkle cinnamon powder over your favourite chocolate mousse/cake/pudding or coffee to relish its divine flavour and health benefits.