For thousands of years, cinnamon has been a commonly used ingredient in the kitchen. This spice belongs to the same family as laurel (bay leaf), and comes from the Far East where it is cultivated for worldwide exportation.
Cinnamon is used to season a variety of foods such as cinnamon rolls, meats, and hot beverages like tea and coffee. Cinnamon is a spice that contributes to the cultural diversity and definition of the cuisine of a country.
One of the most well-known properties of cinnamon is its ability to aid in the digestive process. Boiling cinnamon leaves and drinking the water as a tea, is said to slow digestion and alleviate abdominal discomfort caused by indigestion.
A study carried out by the Department of Human Nutrition at the Agricultural University in Peshawar, Pakistan, one of the main producers of this spice, showed that consuming 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon a day reduces blood sugar up to 29%. The study was published in Diabetes Caremagazine along with other research that supported this as a property of cinnamon.
Another one of cinnamon’s properties is that it is an antioxidant. An analysis carried out by the Higher Council for Scientific Research of Spain in 2006 found that cinnamon, along with anise, ginger, mint, nutmeg, licorice and vanilla, was one of the spices with more significant antioxidant properties due to its high concentration of phenolic compounds. The Council recommended that the food industry could use these spices as natural preservatives in place of the more commonly used artificial preservatives.
Cinnamon also contains proanthocyanidin, a type of antioxidant flavonoid that is also abundant in cranberries. This flavanoid is recognized by the scientific community as being effective in maintaining urinary tract health and preventing infections. The antibacterial effects of cinnamon oil are still being studied. In the proper dose, cinnamon’s effectiveness in inhibiting the growth of Aspergillus (a type of mold that can cause serious disease in humans and animals) has already been proven.
Even though the small amounts of cinnamon usually used in the kitchen don't always reach therapeutic levels, it still provides flavor to food and therefore pleasure to the palate.
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