By Funke Oshifuye
Wondering what cinnamon is? Cinnamon is the brown bark of the cinnamon tree, which when dried, rolls into a tubular form known as a quill.
Cinnamon is available in either its whole quill form (cinnamon sticks) or as ground powder, which can be found on supermarket shelves. It has a long history as a spice and medicine. Its unique healing abilities come from three basic essential oils found in its bark containing active components called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, plus a wide range of other volatile substances
Cinnamon’s ability to lower the release of arachidonic acid from cell membranes also puts it in the category of an “anti-inflammatory” food that can be helpful in lessening inflammation which may be why it has been used traditionally to provide relief when faced with the onset of a cold or flu, especially when mixed in a tea with some fresh ginger.
Cinnamon’s essential oil also qualifies it as an “anti-microbial” food, and as such has been studied for its ability to help stop the growth of bacteria as well as fungi, including the commonly problematic yeast – Candida.
Its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties are so effective that recent research demonstrates that this spice can be used as an alternative to traditional food preservatives due to the fact that it prevents oxidation more effectively than all the other spices and the chemical antioxidants.
Seasoning a high carbohydrate food with cinnamon can help lessen its impact on blood sugar levels owing to the fact that cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, reducing the rise in blood sugar after eating.
Studies have shown that compounds in cinnamon stimulate insulin receptors, inhibit an enzyme that inactivates them, thus significantly increasing cells’ ability to use glucose, and reduces blood sugar levels in persons with type 2 diabetes.
Not only does consuming cinnamon improve the body’s ability to utilise blood sugar, but just smelling the wonderful odour of this sweet spice boosts brain activity! Chewing cinnamon flavoured gum or just smelling cinnamon enhanced drink enhances attention processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor speed while working on a computer-based programme.
If you asked me, I intend to include cinnamon in my next shopping list, what about you?