5 Ways That Real Cinnamon Protects
Your Health and Eases Your Pain
Taking a little extra time to make sure you’re getting the right kind of cinnamon is definitely worth it. Just take a look at the potential benefits you’ll enjoy from adding just a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon to your daily diet.
Lower Cholesterol: Adding a modest amount of cinnamon to your daily diet can help you control cholesterol levels. Specifically, it’s been shown in studies to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. And that means that consuming cinnamon on a regular basis may actually lower your risk of heart disease.
Control Blood Sugar: Real cinnamon helps to regulate blood sugar levels, keeping them more even and balanced. If you have diabetes, then cinnamon can help you control your condition. And if you’re at risk of diabetes, cinnamon may help protect you from developing the full-blown condition. That in turn will reduce your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and an early death.
Relieve Arthritis: Mix honey and cinnamon together and not only do you have a tasty combination that can spice up your tea or your morning bowl of oatmeal, you also have a recipe for reducing your arthritis pain.
Improve Memory: The smell of cinnamon is actually associated with better mental acuity and improved memory.
Banish Headaches: If you suffer regular headaches or migraines, cinnamon may offer you a solution. Studies show that cinnamon can reduce the incidence of headaches and help to relieve migraine symptoms.
Cinnamon: The Real Deal
Cinnamon comes from the bark of the Cinnamomum tree. The bark of two different kinds of Cinnamomum trees is harvested to produce most of the cinnamon that you can buy in stores or online.
One kind is ceylon cinnamon, and the other is cassia cinnamon. Ceylon is sometimes referred to as true cinnamon. The bark is thinner and has a mellower flavor. Cassia cinnamon comes from a thicker bark and has more of a bite to it. Most of the cinnamon you can buy at the store is cassia cinnamon.
Ceylon is more expensive and more difficult to find. It’s worth the effort, though. Both types of cinnamon have similar compounds. And in studies, both have shown the potential to lower cholesterol, control blood sugar, and deliver the other health benefits that we listed above.
The problem is that cassia cinnamon contains a much higher level of coumarin, a compound that has the potential to damage your liver if you take it in large amounts. Getting the full health benefits from cinnamon is safer when you use the ceylon variety – especially if you plan to use it on a daily basis – and most people like the taste of ceylon cinnamon better.
So how do you know which kind of cinnamon you’re getting? Unfortunately, most spice manufacturers just list cinnamon as the ingredient of their cinnamon products – they don’t clarify the source. So while reading labels is something we encourage, it won’t do you much good here. Most store-bought brands of cinnamon do come from cassia.
If you want to switch to ceylon, you have three options… You can switch to a brand that you know uses ceylon cinnamon. The most common national brand of ceylon comes from Frontier Natural Products. Not every grocery store carries this brand (Whole Foods does), so you may have to call around to the grocery stores in your area to find if they have it. Or, you can buy your ceylon cinnamon online.
Amazon, Vitacost, and other online retail outlets carry brands of cinnamon that are guaranteed to be ceylon.
A third option – and probably the most affordable – is to buy whole cinnamon rather than ground cinnamon. Whole cinnamon is often cassia, too, but you can visually tell what you’re getting and shop for a brand that you can recognize as ceylon on sight.
Cassia cinnamon sticks come from thicker bark. When you look down at the end of the stick, you’ll see a single layer of thick bark rolled up on itself – in the image shown here, the stick on the right is cassia cinnamon. Ceylon sticks come from a thin, flakier bark, like the stick on the left. When you look down on the end of the stick you’ll see lots of layers folded on top of each other. Ceylon sticks are also a lighter brown color than cassia sticks.
To use cinnamon sticks like you would ground cinnamon, just break them up with a tenderizing hammer and then grind them to a fine powder using a coffee grinder. In large amounts, common cassia cinnamon can irritate and even harm your liver. The milder ceylon version offers you all the health benefits without introducing any new risks.
When you make the switch to ceylon cinnamon, you’ll be taking an easy, affordable step to protect yourself from heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. You’ll also help reduce the pain associated with arthritis, chronic headaches, and migraines. That’s like finding gold in your kitchen pantry!