Love cinnamon? Here’s how you can use it to get the maximum health benefits

Cinnamon or dalchini is a favourite kitchen staple in Indian households, and for good reason. But if you want to fully reap its benefits, you must pay attention to the variety of cinnamon you’re consuming.
herbs and spices for PCOS
The right kind of cinnamon is all that matters. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Parul Malhotra Bahl Updated: 30 Oct 2023, 15:45 pm IST
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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. 

benefits of cinnamon
Don’t underestimate the power of cinnamon. Image courtesy: Unsplash

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:

1. Can help you manage diabetes

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.

2. Improves digestion

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.

benefits of cinnamon
Cinnamon can help with better digestion naturally. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
3. Helps treat respiratory infections

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).

4. Reduce arthritis pains and headaches

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.

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5. Reduces heart risk factors

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.

Here’s how you can include cinnamon to your diet

1. The best way is to have cinnamon-infused water. Soak cinnamon bark in water overnight and consume the infused water the next day.

benefits of cinnamon
This cinnamon based weight loss drink will be your new favourite. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

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.

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About the Author

Parul Malhotra Bahl is a clinical nutritionist and a certified diabetes educator with an experience of over 12 years in the health industry. She did her Post Graduate DDPHN from Delhi University followed by MSc. Nutrition from Bristol University, U.K.She has worked with multiple renowned hospitals like Medanta The Medicity, Sir Ganga Ram hospital, and Sitaram Bhartia Institute. Currently she is running her own practice under the name of Diet Expression ( ...Read More

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