Indian cooking is a lot about spices. The wide varieties of spices that get used are quite surprising and there is always more to explore and learn. To me the spices are comparable to micro-nutrients – the nutrients that are needed in small quantities by the body. Reason I say so is because just a little portion of spice added to food makes such a difference to it and also gives great benefits. One such spice I learned more about in the recent days was cinnamon. I am not a scientist myself so I did not research and find these things. However as an engineer I believe it is important to collate information and present it in such a way that one can make an informed decision. So, here is what I found about cinnamon…
1. The cinnamaldehyde present in cinnamon is supposed to reduce unwanted blood clotting. This may be particularly useful for people suffering from cardio-vascular problems. On the other hand you might want to use caution if you are already on blood thinning drugs
2. Cinnamon is said to have anti-inflammatory properties as it has the ability to lower the release of arachidonic acid from platelet membranes.
3. It has been recently found that cinnamon has anti-microbial properties making it a potential food preservative. I am sure I will be comfortable buying a jar food with a natural preservative than a chemical.
4. It is also supposed to have the ability to treat yeast infections that are usually resistant to drugs.
5. I have read and heard that huge fluctuations in sugar levels put one at risk of becoming diabetic. This is one of the reasons why it is said that frequently eating small portions is good for the body. The blood sugar usually rises after a meal (remember you get tested for blood sugar after your meal in addition to empty stomach testing?). Addition of cinnamon to the food is said to lessen the rise in blood sugar after a meal as it reduces the gastric emptying rate. I think this will be helpful for people like me who are at risk of diabetes due to family history.
6. It is also said to have benefits to ones already diabetic. For people with Type 2 diabetes it is said to improve their response to insulin by stimulating insulin receptors and also by inhibits an enzyme that inactivates it enabling the cell to use glucose.
7. Cinnamon is said to have shown the ability to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides in Type 2 diabetics thereby reducing the risk of them developing cardio-vascular diseases.
8. The smell of the spice is said to improve brain function and activity.
9. Cinnamon is considered an excellent source of manganese, dietary fibre, calcium and iron.
Now that you know about the loads of goodness in cinnamon, you may want to know how you can include some in your everyday diet. It is said that even upto quarter teaspoon of cinnamon powder has beneficial results. Here are some ways to include cinnamon in your diet:
Firstly dry roast some cinnamon barks and grind to fine powder
Add a dash of this powder to your porridge in the morning
Add this to a dessert you may be having, like a rice pudding
Add a piece of cinnamon to a curry or stew while cooking
Simmer some milk with some cinnamon and sweeten it with honey or sugar, it makes a great drink
Add some roasted cinnamon powder to green tea and enjoy the benefits of cinnamon and anti-oxidants from green tea (I believe this is called meta tea)
Having said all the good things, like many medicines, I would rather share the warnings I read about cinnamon. It is not considered an ingredient that commonly causes allergies, which is good news. However different people react differently so look out for allergic reactions like itching and rashes. Cinnamon oils must never be consumed I suppose. Some say excessive consumption affects kidney and liver. As said earlier, if you are on blood thinning medicines, you may want to watch how much of the spice you take. Like they say, everything in moderation should be fine.
I am Veena, an engineer by education. I am a mother and a wife and run my household. In addition to sharing my thoughts through articles, I also share some recipes on http://tastefullyveggie.blogspot.com