10 Benefits of Cinnamon: One of the Healthiest Spices on the Planet
By Joe Leech
Cinnamon is a highly delicious spice. It has been prized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. Modern science has now confirmed what people have instinctively known for ages. Here are 10 health benefits of cinnamon that are supported by scientific research:
Photo credit: Shutterstock
1. Cinnamon is High in a Substance With Powerful Medicinal Properties
Cinnamon is a spice that is made from the inner bark of trees called Cinnamomum.
It has been used as an ingredient throughout history, dating back as far as Ancient Egypt. It used to be rare and valuable, and was regarded as a gift fit for kings.
These days, cinnamon is cheap, available in every supermarket and found in all sorts of foods and recipes.
There are two main types of cinnamon:
- Ceylon cinnamon: Also known as “true" cinnamon.
- Cassia cinnamon: This is the more common variety today, what people generally refer to as “cinnamon."
Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of the cinnamomum tree. The inner bark is then extracted and the woody parts removed from it.
When it dries, it forms strips that curl into rolls, called cinnamon sticks. The sticks can be ground to form cinnamon powder.
The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon is due to the oily part, which is very high in a compound called cinnamaldehyde.
It is this compound that is responsible for most of cinnamon's powerful effects on health and metabolism.
Bottom Line: Cinnamon is a popular spice. It is high in a substance called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for most of the health benefits.
2. Cinnamon is Loaded With Antioxidants
Antioxidants protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
In fact, it is so powerful that cinnamon can be used as a natural food preservative.
Bottom Line: Cinnamon contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants.
3. Cinnamon Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Inflammation in the body is incredibly important.
It helps the body fight infections and repair tissue damage.
However, inflammation can become a problem when it is chronic (long-term) and directed against the body's own tissues.
Cinnamon may be useful in this regard, because some studies show that the antioxidants in it have potent anti-inflammatory activity.
Bottom Line: The antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help lower the risk of disease.
4. Cinnamon May Cut the Risk of Heart Disease
Cinnamon has been linked with reduced risk of heart disease, the world's most common cause of premature death.
In people with type 2 diabetes, one gram of cinnamon per day has beneficial effects on blood markers.
It reduces levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while HDL cholesterol remains stable.
More recently, a big review study concluded that a cinnamon dose of just 120 milligrams per day can have these effects. In this study, cinnamon also increased HDL (the “good") cholesterol.
In animal studies, cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
When combined, all these factors may drastically cut the risk of heart disease.
Bottom Line: Cinnamon can improve some key risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
5. Cinnamon Can Improve Sensitivity to The Hormone Insulin
Insulin is one of the key hormones that regulate metabolism and energy use.
It is also essential for the transport of blood sugar from the bloodstream and into cells.
The problem is that many people are resistant to the effects of insulin.
This condition, known as insulin resistance, is a hallmark of serious conditions like metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Well, the good news is that cinnamon can dramatically reduce insulin resistance, helping this incredibly important hormone to do its job.
By helping insulin do its job, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels, which brings us to the next point…
Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to significantly increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin.
6. Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Has a Powerful Anti-Diabetic Effect
Cinnamon is well known for its blood sugar lowering effects.
Apart from the beneficial effects on insulin resistance, cinnamon can lower blood sugar by several other mechanisms.
First, cinnamon has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal.
Second, a compound in cinnamon can act on cells by mimicking insulin.
This greatly improves glucose uptake by cells, although it acts much slower than insulin itself.
The effective dose is typically one to six grams of cinnamon per day (around one half to two teaspoons).
Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to both reduce fasting blood sugar levels, having a potent anti-diabetic effect at 1 to 6 grams per day.
7. Cinnamon May Have Beneficial Effects on Neurodegenerative Diseases
Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by progressive loss of the structure or function of brain cells.
Two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease.
In a study looking at mice with Parkinson's disease, cinnamon helped to protect neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels and improve motor function.
These effects need to be studied further in humans.
Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to lead to various improvements for Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease in animal studies.
8. Cinnamon May Be Protective Against Cancer
Cancer is a serious disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.
Cinnamon has been widely studied for its potential use in cancer prevention and treatment.
It acts by reducing the growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels in tumors, and appears to be toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death.
A study in mice with colon cancer revealed cinnamon to be a potent activator of detoxifying enzymes in the colon, protecting against further cancer growth.
These findings were supported by test tube experiments, which showed that cinnamon activates protective antioxidant responses in human colon cells.
Whether cinnamon has any effect in living, breathing humans needs to be confirmed in controlled trials.
Bottom Line: Animal studies and test tube experiments indicate that cinnamon may have protective effects against cancer.
9. Cinnamon Helps Fight Bacterial and Fungal Infections
Cinnamaldehyde, the main active component of cinnamon, may help fight various kinds of infection.
Cinnamon oil has been shown to effectively treat respiratory tract infections caused by fungi.
It can also inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, including Listeria and Salmonella.
The antimicrobial effects of cinnamon may also help prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath.
Bottom Line: Cinnamaldehyde has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which may reduce infections and help fight tooth decay and bad breath.
10. Cinnamon May Help Fight The HIV Virus
HIV is a virus that slowly breaks down the immune system, which can eventually lead to AIDS if untreated.
Cinnamon extracted from Cassia varieties is thought to help fight against HIV-1.
This is the most common strain of the HIV virus in humans.
A laboratory study looking at HIV infected cells found that cinnamon was the most effective treatment of all 69 medicinal plants studied.
Human trials are needed to confirm these effects.
Bottom Line: Test tube studies have shown that cinnamon can help fight HIV-1, the main type of HIV virus in humans.
It is Better to Use Ceylon (“True" Cinnamon)
Not all cinnamon is created equal.
The Cassia variety contains significant amounts of a compound called coumarin, which is believed to be harmful in large doses.
All cinnamon should have health benefits, but Cassia may cause problems in large doses due to the coumarin content.
Ceylon (“true" cinnamon) is much better in this regard, and studies show that it is much lower in coumarin than the Cassia variety.
Unfortunately, most cinnamon found in supermarkets is the cheaper Cassia variety.
You may be able to find Ceylon in some health food stores, and there is a good selection on Amazon.
Take Home Message
At the end of the day, cinnamon is one of the most delicious and healthiest spices on the planet.
It can lower blood sugar levels, reduce heart disease risk factors, and has a plethora of other impressive health benefits.
Just make sure to get Ceylon cinnamon, or stick to small doses (no more than one half to two teaspoons a day) if you're using the Cassia variety.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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By Daisy Simmons
1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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