The Power of Cinnamon
When it comes to spices, cinnamon is hard to beat...
Not only is it extremely versatile and is delicious to taste, it's loaded with health benefits.
When it comes to making a Greek Yogurt bowl, overnight oats or proats I always go out of my way to include a healthy dose of cinnamon, here are 5 big cinnamon benefits and reasons why you should incorporate more cinnamon into your diet.
First Of All Where Does Cinnamon Actually Come From?
Cinnamon comes from the bark of trees, it's peeled off of tropical evergreens.
This bark is placed in the sun and once dried out it begins to curl - forming a cinnamon stick.
Although you can buy cinnamon sticks it's much more common to use powdered cinnamon (which is the result of grinding cinnamon sticks).
It's also worth noting that there are two main types of cinnamon including...
It is argued that Ceylon Cinnamon is 'genuine' cinnamon, this type of cinnamon grows in Sri Lanka and isn't that readily available.
Ceylon cinnamon comes from the Cinnamomum Zeylanicum plant.
The cinnamon the majority of us buy in the supermarket is Cassia Cinnamon, this second type of cinnamon is far more readily available, comes in cheaper and has a bit of a stronger taste to it.
Some individuals will argue that this is not 'true' cinnamon, however it's the cinnamon that 99% of us use and the plethora of health benefits you'll reap from regularly consuming cinnamon isn't exclusive to one type of cinnamon.
1 - Cinnamon Is Jam Packed With Antioxidants
Free radicals cause oxidative damage to our body, antioxidants battle these free radicals and protect us from such damage (and as such you should incorporate not only cinnamon, but a variety of foods high in antioxidants into your diet every single day).
Out of essentially all of the spices out there cinnamon sits at the top when it comes to the sheer number of antioxidants it contains.
A study found here even ranks cinnamon above a number of those we deem 'super foods'.
2 - Cinnamon Lowers Your Blood Sugar Levels
Looking to lower your blood sugar levels? Cinnamon should be the #1 addition to your diet.
How is this possible? Cinnamon restricts the amount of glucose entering your blood stream after a meal, this is achieved by cinnamon's interaction with digestive enzymes which slows down the rate at which carbohydrates breakdown in your digestive tract.
1 gram to 6 grams of cinnamon per day appears to be the sweet spot for lowering blood sugar levels according to studies (that's up to 2 teaspoons per day).
3 - Cinnamon Goes To War With Bacterial & Fungal Infections
One of the main components of cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde is effective at treating respiratory infections as well as reduce the growth of bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria.
More research is being performed to verify claims that cinnamon is able to assist fighting off infections within other parts of the body.
4 - Cinnamon Can Improve Insulin Sensitivity
When it comes to gym-goers they often brush off benefits such as improved insulin sensitivity as they assume it doesn't hold much relevance to strength and body composition etc. that's not quite the case...
Your energy levels, the rate at which your body expends calories (your metabolism) are all linked to insulin.
There are a heap of individuals that do not respond to insulin (known as insulin resistance) this can be managed via the magic of cinnamon as several studies have proven that cinnamon works well to reduce insulin resistance.
Here are a few notes from the aforementioned studies...
"In summary, cinnamon and components of cinnamon have been shown to have beneficial effects on essentially all of the factors associated with metabolic syndrome, including insulin sensitivity, glucose, lipids, antioxidants, inflammation, blood pressure, and body weight. In addition, factors associated with related diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and cancer, have also been shown to be improved by cinnamon and its components in in vitro studies."
"Naturally-occurring compounds that have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity include Cr and polyphenols found in cinnamon (Cinnamomon cassia). These compounds also have similar effects on insulin signalling and glucose control. The signs of Cr deficiency are similar to those for the metabolic syndrome and supplemental Cr has been shown to improve all these signs in human subjects. In a double-blind placebo-controlled study it has been demonstrated that glucose, insulin, cholesterol and HbA1c are all improved in patients with type 2 diabetes following Cr supplementation. It has also been shown that cinnamon polyphenols improve insulin sensitivity in in vitro, animal and human studies. Cinnamon reduces mean fasting serum glucose (18-29%), TAG (23-30%), total cholesterol (12-26%) and LDL-cholesterol (7-27%) in subjects with type 2 diabetes after 40 d of daily consumption of 1-6 g cinnamon. Subjects with the metabolic syndrome who consume an aqueous extract of cinnamon have been shown to have improved fasting blood glucose, systolic blood pressure, percentage body fat and increased lean body mass compared with the placebo group. Studies utilizing an aqueous extract of cinnamon, high in type A polyphenols, have also demonstrated improvements in fasting glucose, glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in women with insulin resistance associated with the polycystic ovary syndrome. For both supplemental Cr and cinnamon not all studies have reported beneficial effects and the responses are related to the duration of the study, form of Cr or cinnamon used and the extent of obesity and glucose intolerance of the subjects."
5 - Cinnamon Acts As A Natural Anti-Inflammatory
When we think of inflammation in the body we instantly assume it's a negative thing, that's not entirely the case.
Inflammation is necessary when our body is repairing damaged tissue as well as when fighting infection. That said, when healthy tissue is inflamed or chronic inflammation is apparent that becomes a problem.
Instead of going straight for some over the counter anti-inflammatory consider taking some cinnamon, as cinnamon has been proven to work very well as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Want To Add Cinnamon To Your Diet? Try These Cinnamon Overnight Oats...
Ever since I discovered overnight oats I can't get enough of them, a perfect nutritional profile to start the day with more than enough fuel for the most brutal of workouts (cardio OR weights!). You don't need to add cinnamon to every single meal you eat to reap the cinnamon benefits discussed above, a healthy serve in the morning will more than suffice.
1 cup of oats
1 cup of almond milk
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 diced apple
1 teaspoon of honey
Here's how to make 'em
Combine all ingredients together in a bowl or large mason jar and placed in your fridge overnight.
Consume the following morning.
Here's The Cinnamon I Use & Recommend (Great Value)
USDA organic, non-gmo, batch tested and great value for money compared to the rubbish quality cinnamon products that most supermarkets sell.
Pick up an inexpensive bag of Anthony's cinnamon powder here.
Summary of Cinnamon Benefits...
- Cinnamon comes from the bark of evergreen trees
- Cinnamon sticks are the result of leaving cinnamon bark curling up when left out in the sun to dry
- There are two types of cinnamon, these include Ceylon Cinnamon and Cassia Cinnamon
- The ground cinnamon you purchase from the supermarket is generally Cassia Cinnamon
- Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants that battle free radicals in your body
- Cinnamon assists in lowering blood sugar levels and is fantastic for diabetics
- Cinnamon fights bacteria and infections (however more research is required to determine to what extent this is)
- Cinnamon can improve insulin sensitivity which is linked to your energy levels and metabolism
- Cinnamon fights chronic (bad) inflammation within the body
- Adding cinnamon to your overnight oats is a fantastic way to incorporate a decent serve of cinnamon into your diet