Cinnamon is a spice that is obtained from the bark of trees of the genus Cinnamomum. Cinnamon sticks are just pieces of bark that are rolled up and dried. Cinnamon can also be found in powder form, easier to add to desserts, smoothies, fruit salads and yogurt, or in the form of essential oil to inhale. And if you think that cinnamon is a spice to be consumed only in winter… well, you are wrong. In fact, cinnamon brings important benefits in all seasons, it takes care of your stomach, your bowel, it helps keep your blood sugar under control but above all it can also cool the body, making it perfect even on hot summer days. But let's take a closer look at what has been said up to now, on the basis, as always, of the most important and recent scientific studies.
Cinnamon, nutrients and properties
Cinnamon contains cinnamic acid and phenolic compounds, such as proanthocyanidins A and B, ferulic, vanillic and gallic acids and kaempferol. These substances give the spice important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, gastroprotective, antidiabetic, anti-obesity, hepatoprotective and anticancer properties (Pagliari et al, Foods, 2023).
Cinnamon for intestinal health
Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and reduces intestinal hypersensitivity, thus proving to be useful in case of irritable bowel syndrome caused by various factors, including stress and irritants (Yu et al, Front Pharmacol, 2022). Not only that, cinnamon is also beneficial for intestinal health because it counteracts the leaky gut syndrome, in which the intestinal wall has breaches that allow pathogens to overcome it and enter the bloodstream (Kim et al, Food Function, 2019). In addition, studies have shown that cinnamon is able to counteract intestinal fibrosis, which is one of the consequences of chronic inflammation of the intestine. Intestinal fibrosis causes tissue hardening and loss of organ function (Hagenlocher et al, Mol Nutr Food Res, 2017). Cinnamon is also useful for fighting diarrhea. Its benefits can be traced back, in addition to the anti-inflammatory properties, to the ability to support the intestinal microbiota, favoring the proliferation of good bacteria (Park et al, Food Funct, 2023).
Cinnamon for anxiety and brain health
Inhaling cinnamon essential oil, whether from a handkerchief or diffused around the room, has been shown to counteract anxiety and improve mood by promoting the desire to move and have social relationships (Nguyen et al, Molecules, 2022). Cinnamon intake has been shown to protect the brain, improving memory and learning ability. Not only that, cinnamon has been shown to be able to inhibit the aggregation of tau and beta amyloid proteins, a characteristic of Alzheimer's (Nakhaee et al, Nutr Neurosci, 2023).
Cinnamon against diabetes and obesity
Cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar, reducing insulin resistance and increasing the production of GLU4, which are proteins that allow glucose to be transported inside the cell, thus removing glucose from the bloodstream and keeping blood sugar under control (Nishikai Shen et al, Sci Rep, 2022). Cinnamon can also be useful in case of obesity. In fact, taking less than a teaspoon of cinnamon per day has been shown, in three months, to reduce body weight, fat mass, and waist circumference in people with a body mass index greater than 30 (Mousavi et al, Clin Nutr, 2020).
Because cinnamon is also a spice for summer
Maybe you've always thought that cinnamon, with its sweet and enveloping notes, was a spice to be consumed in winter. Instead, cinnamon is also excellent in summer. In fact, as research published in the Scientific Reports journal of the prestigious Nature group has shown (Ou et al, Scientific Reports, 2016), cinnamon helps to cool the body down by up to two degrees, bringing a feeling of well-being to the whole organism. That's why cinnamon is very popular in hot countries!
Cinnamon, recipes for all seasons
Cinnamon is the spice for all seasons! Ideal to add to yogurt or fruit salad on any occasion, in winter it can be sipped in the form of an infusion while in summer cinnamon water is perfect. As for the herbal tea, bring a cup of water to a boil along with a piece of cinnamon stick. Let it simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat, filter and drink once warm. Instead, for cinnamon water, here is a delicious summer recipe. In a jug filled with water, add two cinnamon sticks. Leave to rest in the refrigerator overnight, filter the next day and drink throughout the day. Alternatively, in the summer it is very appreciated the sangria. Here we offer it in a non-alcoholic version. In a saucepan, pour a liter of water, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 cloves, 2 crushed cardamom pods, 3 ginger slices, 1 star anise and 3-4 peppercorns. Bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes. Then remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of black tea. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then filter and leave to cool. Add the juice of one lemon and one orange, 2 sliced apples, 2 sliced peaches and halved grapes. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. Sweeten to taste.
As we have seen, cinnamon is a spice that not only gives a particular aroma to preparations, but which is also very healthy, useful for the well-being of the gastrointestinal tract, to counteract hyperglycemia, obesity and to protect the brain. Plus, it also helps cool down the body in the summer! However, as beneficial as it is, you shouldn't overdo it. In fact, cinnamon should always be taken in moderation and within a healthy and balanced diet, as too high doses can excessively affect values such as blood sugar, lowering it too much. Not only that, cinnamon contains coumarins in different amounts with respect to the type of spice. Cassia cinnamon, which is the cheapest, contains up to 60 times more coumarins than Ceylon cinnamon, which instead contains almost negligible quantities but which is more valuable and expensive. Cassa cinnamon can be taken but in small quantities as an excessive dose of coumarins can cause liver damage (Ranasinghe et al, Trials, 2017).