The scent of cinnamon always takes me back to my college days when I would at times take infrequent detours from school to a nearby Adventist hospital canteen that sells a most fragrant, succulent, soft and moist cinnamon bread that is dripping all over with the gooey goodness of cinnamon glaze. It made my walks home much, much sweeter.
Probably the most popular baking spice is cinnamon — that sweet-smelling tree bark that is responsible for the comforting aroma of puddings, pies, cookies and chocolate drinks. I love the smell of cinnamon in most any food — it never fails to lend a sweet, earthy, delicate and mildly woody flavor to food.
Where does cinnamon come from?
The cinnamon powder that we have is the pulverized form of the dried bark of some varieties of the laurel tree. Cinnamon sticks, on the other hand, are strips of the bark that have been pressed, rolled and then dried.
History of cinnamon
Cinnamon is an ancient spice, having been used in China and then imported by the Egyptians as far back as 2,000 B.C. So highly-prized is cinnamon that it is one of the most sought-after spices in the explorations during the 15th to the 16th centuries.
The Romans so value cinnamon that they hold it sacred. The Emperor Nero — to show his mourning over the death of his beloved wife — even chose to burn a full year’s supply of cinnamon during the funeral of his wife.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Contains important nutrients
Cinnamon actually packs high amounts of manganese, calcium, iron and fiber.
Helps preserve food
Research done at Kansas University documented the power of cinnamon in neutralizing E. coli in unpasteurized juice.
Lowers LDL or bad cholesterol
Studies show that a daily intake of just half a teaspoon of cinnamon could effect a drop in the levels of bad cholesterol.
Regulates blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes
Several researches have already documented the ability of cinnamon to regulate blood sugar levels. Isn’t it amazing how cinnamon works so well with sweet treats? The Creator has designed this spice to be in sugary foods to prevent spikes in sugar levels.
Has anti-microbial properties
Its mild sweetness notwithstanding, cinnamon has been found to be powerful enough to kill microorganisms, including drug-resistant yeast or fungal infections.
Helps prevent blood-clotting
Cinnamon has shown potential in helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes by way of preventing blood-clotting.
Helps alleviate symptoms of arthritis
A study in Copenhagen demonstrated the ability of a mixture of cinnamon and honey to tone down the symptoms of arthritis.
Is important in aromatherapy
The gaseous molecules of cinnamon when inhaled have been found to enhance mood, cognitive functions and memory.
Has anti-cancer powers
The Department of Agriculture in Maryland, USA has documented the ability of cinnamon to reduce the growth of lymphoma and leukemia cells.
How to increase your intake of cinnamon:
What’s your favorite cinnamon-laden dish? How do you use cinnamon?
Have you checked out the cinnamon in my spice rack?