Whether your mom made cider by simmering cinnamon bark in apple juice during the holidays or you’ve succumbed to temptation in the airport after smelling those amazing aromas coming from a cinnamon roll shop…
You know the power of cinnamon… in your food, in the air, and now… in your nutrition regime.
Besides a delicious addition in baked goods, curries, and apple ciders, did you know cinnamon has astonishing medicinal properties?
Now, “astonishing” may seem like a strong word choice, but in this case, it’s accurate…especially when it comes to the potent cinnamon bark extract, which is thought to help with everything from heart health to lowering blood sugar levels.
Does Cinnamon Bark Grow On Trees?
Cinnamon is obtained from the inner bark of trees from the genus Cinnamomum, which is part of the laurel family, Lauraceae. The bark contains numerous special compounds, which are responsible for its powerful health promoting properties. You can enjoy cinnamon’s health benefits in various forms: oil, powder, and extract.
There are two kinds of cinnamon widely available on the market today: “true cinnamon,” also called Ceylon cinnamon, and stronger version called cassia cinnamon. While true cinnamon comes from the bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree – also known as Cinnamomum zeylanicum – cassia comes from the Cinnamomum cassia tree, also called Cinnamomum aromaticum.
Spice, Spice Baby – The Benefits of Cinnamon Bark
Antioxidants are chemical compounds that may delay or prevent cell damage. These are present mainly in fruits and vegetables. However, you can also take antioxidant supplements.1 Cinnamon acts as an antioxidant because it has large amounts of highly-potent polyphenols.2 Polyphenols are abundant in natural plant food sources, and are especially concentrated in cinnamon.3
A study has shown that cinnamon has is one of the most potent sources of antioxidants, along with several other spices and spice extracts, including garlic and oregano.4
Research has shown that different flavonoids isolated from cinnamon have the ability to scavenge free radicals and inhibit oxidation.5
2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Inflammation is the body’s biological response to harmful stimuli like irritants, pathogens, and damaged cells.The five signs of inflammation are redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function.6
A recent study suggests cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties that help you stay healthy and feeling great!7
A study has shown that the 2′-hydroxycinnamaldehyde isolated from the bark of Cinnamomum Cassia manifested an inhibitory effect on the nitric oxide production. It inhibited the activated B cells’ nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer, indicating that this substance can inhibit inflammation.8
In a previous study, out of 115 foods tested, Sri Lankan Cinnamon or C. zeylanicum has the most potent anti-inflammatory effects.9
3. Fights Everyday Ailments
Cinnamon and cinnamon bark has been used as a medicine for hundreds of years. In fact, it was a gift fit for kings in ancient Egypt due to its rarity and cost.10
But, come to find out… it actually is extremely precious due to its amazing health benefits.
The flavor and aroma of cinnamon are due to a compound called cinnamaldehyde– it is also responsible for the powerful effects of cinnamon on health and metabolism. Due to the presence of cinnamaldehyde, the spice can alleviate symptoms of diarrhea and colds.11
4. Boosts Heart Health
Cinnamon has been classified by the Indian Materia Medica and the Indian Medicinal Plants – A Compendium of 500 Species as an herbal drug that has cardiovascular effects.
It is thought that cinnamon may increase coronary blood flow and reduce peripheral vascular resistance. They also believe because of the presence of cinnamaldehyde, cinnamon can increase the contractile force and beating rate of the heart.12
5. Helps Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is responsible for helping your body convert food to fuel for energy, making it possible for you to move, work, play and live your life.13 Cinnamon has chromium and polyphenols, which are believed to be responsible for improving insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing diabetes-associated risk factors.14
6. Helps Fight Bacterial Infections
Cinnamaldehyde, which is present in cinnamon extract, is a powerful agent that helps in fighting bacterial and fungal infections. In fact, cinnamon oil has been shown to improve the symptoms of respiratory tract infections that are caused by fungi effectively.15 In a study conducted involving hydro-distilled Chinese Cinnamon oil and pure cinnamaldehyde of C. cassia, it showed that both could help inhibit the growth of various bacteria.16, 17
This Spice is SO Nice
Bottom line, this beloved spice is not only packed with flavor, but also health-boosting nutrition.
Cinnamon isn’t just for seasoning your food or scenting your candles. Adding the bark extract into your diet can help to protect your body from those age-causing free radicals, improve heart health, reduce symptoms of the common cold and more.
2Leech J. 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon. Authority Nutrition. 2014. Accessed October 19, 2016.
3Manach C, Scalbert A, Morand C, Rémésy C, Jiménez L. Polyphenols: food sources and bioavailability. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2004;79(5):727-747. Available at: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/5/727.full. Accessed October 19, 2016.
4Shan B, Cai Y, Sun M, Corke H. Antioxidant Capacity of 26 Spice Extracts and Characterization of Their Phenolic Constituents. J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53(20):7749-7759. doi:10.1021/jf051513y.
5Rao PGan S. Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014;2014:1-12. doi:10.1155/2014/642942.
6 What is an inflammation?. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). 2015. Accessed October 19, 2016.
7Leech J. 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon. Authority Nutrition. 2014. Accessed October 19, 2016.
8Lee S, Lee S, Son D et al. Inhibitory effect of 2′-hydroxycinnamaldehyde on nitric oxide production through inhibition of NF-κB activation in RAW 264.7 cells. Biochemical Pharmacology. 2005;69(5):791-799. doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2004.11.013.
9Gunawardena D, Karunaweera N, Lee S et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of cinnamon (C. zeylanicum and C. cassia) extracts – identification of E-cinnamaldehyde and o-methoxy cinnamaldehyde as the most potent bioactive compounds. Food Funct. 2015;6(3):910-919. doi:10.1039/c4fo00680a.
10Leech J. 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon. Authority Nutrition. 2014. Accessed October 19, 2016.
11Burnham P. Cinnamaldehyde – The Smell and Flavour of Cinnamon. Chmbrisacuk. 2016. Accessed October 19, 2016.
12R. Vasanthi HP. Parameswari R. Indian Spices for Healthy Heart – An Overview. CCR. 2010;6(4):274-279. doi:10.2174/157340310793566172.
13What is Diabetes? What Causes Diabetes?. Diabetesresearchorg. 2016. Accessed October 19, 2016.
14What is diabetes?. 2016. Accessed October 19, 2016.