Cinnamon

Cinnamon

CinnamonCinnamon is a spice which has been used for thousands of years for various purposes. It is not only known for its many health benefits, but it is also famous for its sweet and warming taste. The spice is not only easy to use in recipes, but it also used for its medicinal purpose. This article will provide more information about the origins of the spice and will address the health benefits.

Description

Most people know cinnamon as the brown spice which is often used in apple dessert and in various recipes around the Christmas period. The spice is the inner part of the cinnamon tree. This part rolls into a tubular form when it dries. This tubular form is also known as quill. Cinnamon can either be used in its quill form or as ground powder. The quill form is commonly referred to as cinnamon stick. While the cinnamon sticks are usually used for infusing cinnamon flavor, cinnamon powder is used is used in the majority of recipes. There are many different types of cinnamon. All types of cinnamon, however, belong to the same family of plants. This family of plant is known as the Lauraceae family. Famous foods which also belong to this family are bay leaves and avocados. Various types of cinnamon are often grouped together and referred to as “cassia cinnamons” or simply “cassia”. One of the most important and popular types of cassia is Cinnamomum burmannii. This type is also known as Indonesian cinnamon. Between 2008 and 2013, over ninety percent of the cinnamon which was imported into the United States was Indonesian cinnamon. Moreover, if products have a cinnamon flavor, it is most likely that this type of cinnamon has been used. For example, in order to make cinnamon rolls, cassia-type cinnamons are commonly used. Another popular type of cinnamon is called Ceylon cinnamon. This type of cinnamon has been used and valued for thousands of years for its herbal, medicinal and culinary purposes. Ceylon cinnamon is also referred to as Sri Lanka cinnamon, since it was originally found in Sri Lanka. Another name for this type of cinnamon is Cinnamomum verum. “Verum” comes from the Latin term “verus” which means true. It is said that this type of cinnamon was one of the first types of cinnamon and it is therefore called true cinnamon.

History

Cinnamon has been harvested for thousands of years. The use of cinnamon dates back to over 4,000 years ago. It is said that cinnamon was first used during the time of Ancient Egypt. During this time the spice was not only considered to be rare, but it was also seen as a very valuable spice. Since it was considered to be rare and valuable, it is was often sold at a very high price. Moreover, cinnamon was also given as a present to royals or as a sign of devotion. The spice is also mentioned in the Bible numerous times. In the book, the spice is mentioned because of its ability to fight illnesses. Over the years, people have started to learn more about the benefits of the spice. For many years, populations have said that cinnamon should not only be considered to be a culinary spice but should also be recognized for its medical purposes. These medical claims are now supported by scientific evidence. The health benefits of cinnamon can be obtained in various ways. They can be obtained in cinnamon extract form which are often concentrated in high doses. This can have a powerful effect on the health situation. Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems from the tree and removing the inner bark. As mentioned, this inner bark curls up and is known as cinnamon stick. In order to make powdery cinnamon, the sticks are ground. The spice is now used and sold all over the world. Some of the biggest cinnamon producers in the world are Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Brazil, India and the Caribbean. In these countries it is mainly Ceylon cinnamon which is produced. In countries such as Indonesia, China and Vietnam, cassia cinnamon is produced.

Antioxidants

One of the health benefits of cinnamon is that it is packed with protective antioxidants. These antioxidants do not only slow the process of aging, but they also reduce free radical damage. The free radical damage in the long run could cause cancer. Various studies have been conducted on the protective compounds of cinnamon. Currently, researchers have identified over 41 different protective properties in the spice. The OTAC scale is a global scale used to measure the concentration of antioxidants in food. According to this scale, cinnamon ranks as number 7 of all spices and herbs around the world with regards to its concentration of antioxidants. Moreover, a study which compared the level of antioxidant in spices ranked cinnamon as number one. The spice did not only prove to be the highest in antioxidants, but it was also considered to be more powerful compared to oregano, thyme and garlic which already have a high level of antioxidants. The specific compounds in cinnamon which are responsible for the health benefits are the antioxidants called flavonoids, polyphenols and phenolic acid. These antioxidants are also to be found in other types of food which we often refer to as super-foods. These food items include berries and dark chocolate. These specific compounds are active in the body and help to fight oxidative stress. If oxidative stress is not fought it could lead to the formation of various diseases in the long term. Additionally, the different types of antioxidants can help to reduce various symptoms and diseases. The specific health benefits the spice can provide include the reduction of oxidative stress and the ability to limit the build-up of nitric oxide. The build-up of nitric acid could lead to heart disease, brain disorder and other conditions if not treated.


Effect on diabetes

Another positive health benefit cinnamon provides it its anti-diabetic effect. The spice does not only help to lower blood sugar levels, but it can also improve the sensitivity to the insulin hormone. Insulin is an important hormone, especially for people who are diagnosed with diabetes. The hormone is crucial since it balanced blood sugar levels. Diabetes is formed when resistance to insulin occurs. This in turn leads to poor glycemic control. This implies that the body is not able to regulate how much sugar or glucose enters the blood stream. While diabetes is the main disease which is formed once insulin resistance occurs, other conditions can develop as well. For example, it is possible for people to gain weight or for people to develop a metabolic syndrome. Cinnamon can help to prevent diabetes since it helps to prevent certain enzymes from allowing glucose to be absorbed into the blood. It has been shown that these enzymes, which are known as alanines, are blocked by compounds which are to be found in cinnamon. Studies have shown that the consumption of cinnamon can help to decrease the level of glucose which is absorbed into the bloodstream after a meal which has a high sugar level. This is important for people who have been diagnoses with diabetes since high levels of sugar can increase the symptoms of the condition. It has been shown that especially people with Type II diabetes can experience positive effects when supplementing their diet with cinnamon extracts. Another positive effect of cinnamon with regards to diabetes is the fact that it can help to combat heart disease as well as lower cholesterol levels. This is particularly important for people with diabetes since they have an increased risk of developing these conditions.

Recipes with cinnamon

Cinnamon is added to a wide variety of dishes. It usually provides a sweet taste to many dishes and can be mixed into drinks as well as into desserts. A famous recipe with cinnamon is cinnamon toast. Cinnamon toast is considered to be one of the favorite kinds of food for children, as well as many adults. While cinnamon toast is usually made with white bread, you can use whole wheat toast if you want to give the recipe a healthy twist. Drizzle a bit of oil onto the toast and then continue to sprinkle it with honey and cinnamon. Another recipe with cinnamon is a hot cup of soymilk with cinnamon sticks and honey. This beverage is perfect for the cold days. Cinnamon can also be used when making burritos or nachos. When preparing the filling of the burritos, add some ground cinnamon to the black beans and it will provide the filling with a unique and delicious flavor. Cinnamon is also widely used in the Middle Eastern kitchen. For example, the spice is used when making lamb. Combine sauté lamb with raisins, eggplant and cinnamon sticks. This meal will be a combination of sweet as well as savory flavors. Moreover, cinnamon can also be added to curries to give them an even more unique and delicious taste. It is also possible to add cinnamon to cold drinks. If you want to give your body a detox treatment, a detox drink would be perfect for this. Combine a glass of water with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons of lemon juice, one teaspoon of cinnamon and a bit of stevia. This detox drink will provide you with all the necessary antioxidants to give your body a boost.

How to select and store

Most supermarkets sell cinnamon in both stick and powder form. While ground powder has a strong flavor, the cinnamon sticks do last longer. When buying cinnamon, either in stick or powder form, make sure that you smell it beforehand. The spice should have a sweet smell since this characterizes the spice as being fresh. Most supermarkets do not distinguish between Ceylon and cassia cinnamon. If you are looking for a specific type of cinnamon, you will most likely not be able to find it in the supermarket. It is therefore recommended to go to your local spice store or a spice market. These shops usually have a wide variety of spices. Also, if possible, try to select cinnamon which is organic. In this way you will be assured that it has not been irradiated. When storing cinnamon, make sure that you keep it in a tightly sealed glass container. Also, it should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place. While ground cinnamon can be stored up to six months, cinnamon sticks can last up to one year. If you want to keep the spice for longer, it is possible to store cinnamon in the refrigerator. You will be able to recognize the freshness of the spice by smelling it. If the spice does not smell sweet anymore, it is not recommended to use the spice since it is not fresh and has most likely lost its flavor.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 22x
Added: 23-01-2017 01:58
Last modified: 20-03-2017 00:04

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