Cinnamon is an indigenous spice from the Lauracea family that is well known for its exotic flavor and warm aroma. There is probably a bottle of ground cinnamon sitting in your kitchen spice rack right now – waiting for you to realize its nutritional benefits! Because cinnamon has a history of ancient medicinal uses for digestive and respiratory illnesses, it’s no surprise that many recent scientific trials are being conducted to investigate its beneficial effects. There are promising outcomes in this research which indicate that cinnamon could be a valuable tool in treating Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. The spice has been found to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and even anti-cancer properties. There are four main types of cinnamon – Ceylon, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is the type that you are most likely to find readily available in a grocery store. Read on for proposed nutritional and health benefits of cinnamon.
May Help Lower Blood Sugar
Studies suggest that tea made with cinnamon had a significant effect on decreasing glucose levels in non-diabetic adults after meals. There is still more research to be done, but it is thought that the mechanism responsible for this effect on blood sugar is connected to cinnamon’s effect on insulin signaling and insulin receptor proteins in the body. One randomized, controlled study performed in 2009 found that cinnamon lowered HbA1C (glycosylated hemoglobin) levels in type 2 diabetics, and could be useful as a complimentary treatment when used in conjunction with traditional methods of treating diabetes.
May have Anti-Cancer Properties
Research into cinnamon’s effect on cancer is limited to animal and in vitro studies (or test tube studies), but there are promising results! Studies suggest that cinnamon acts against cancer cells by decreasing cancer cell growth and preventing the formation of blood vessels in tumors. Research also indicates that cinnamon has a toxic effect on cancer cells, causing injury and cell death. One study, published in 2007, showed that cinnamon activated detoxifying enzymes and reduced lipid peroxidation (oxidative damage done to lipids by free radicals, which results in cell injury) in the colons of mice with colon cancer. While we still need to see data collected from clinical trials in humans, there is already evidence pointing to its potential benefits in the fight against cancer.
An animal study done on rats in 2007 showed cinnamon to be cardioprotective and have beneficial effects against ischemic heart disease. Active compounds in cinnamon may have a cardioprotective effect achieved by producing nitric oxide, as well as its vasorelaxant effect (decrease in tension) on blood vessels. A 2003 study showed that including cinnamon in the diet of type 2 diabetics was associated with a reduction in blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels, which are all risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
Protect Against Free Radical Damage
Cinnamon is among one of the herbs and spices with the highest amount of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are compounds that scavenge and protect against free radicals in the body. Cinnamon also contains manganese, which is a part of an important antioxidant system in the body. One teaspoon of cinnamon alone contains 0.4mg, or 22% of your recommended daily intake of manganese.
May Improve Effects of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Alzheimer’s and Parskinson’s Diseases are neurodegenerative diseases, which means that they are caused by problems with the structure or function of cells in the brain. There are compounds in cinnamon the formation of proteins in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. One study done on mice with Parkinson’s disease found that cinnamon was actually able to protect neurons and improve gross motor function.
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