6 Healthy Reasons to Eat More Real Cinnamon (Not its Cousin)


If you live in North America or Europe that jar of “cinnamon” in your cupboard is probably not truly cinnamon at all, but a very similar spice known as cassia or “bastard cinnamon.”

True cinnamon is usually labeled “Ceylon cinnamon” and comes principally from Sri Lanka (called Ceylon in colonial times), India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean. Cassia, on the other hand, is often designated as “Chinese cinnamon” or “Saigon cinnamon” and comes principally from Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Japan and Korea.

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices and most popular spices, and has been used for millennia both for its flavoring and medicinal qualities. In ancient Egypt, it was used to fill body cavities of corpses as an embalming agent. In ancient Rome it was considered so valuable that the Emperor Nero burned a year’s supply on his wife’s funeral pyre as proof of his devotion to her.

Ceylon cinnamon is more expensive and more difficult to find in North American where most spices labeled cinnamon are actually the cheaper cassia. Sweeter, lighter and more refined than cassia, true cinnamon is most suitable to flavoring desserts rather than more robust, savory dishes which can handle the heavier cassia.

Besides flavor, the most important distinction between the two spices, however, is in their levels of coumarin, natural compound that acts as a blood thinner when ingested.

Cassia has much higher levels of coumarin than true cinnamon. Patients on blood thinners such as warfarin (trade name Coumadin) are often advised to limit their intake of cinnamon, but this generally applies to cassia more so than to real cinnamon.

Both types of cinnamon are excellent sources of the trace mineral manganese which is an important activator of enzymes essential to building healthy bones as well as other physiological processes, including carbohydrate and fat metabolism.

They are also both very good sources of dietary fiber, iron and calcium. The combination of calcium and fiber is thought to be helpful in reducing the risk of colon cancer and lowering cholesterol levels, and relieving constipation or diarrhea.

Whatever you do, makes sure to buy all your spices USDA certified organic because many conventional brands irradiate their raw material with intense doses of radiation. Learn more about this invisible nuclear threat within non-organic food.

Here are six reasons to make sure you’re getting more cinnamon in your diet:

1. Lowers blood sugar levels

Cinnamon has been shown to normalize blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics by improving the ability to respond to insulin. It does so in part by slowing the rate at which the stomach empties after eating as evidenced by a study in which people ate about a cup of rice pudding with and without about a teaspoon of cinnamon. Adding the cinnamon slowed the rate the stomach emptied from 37% to 34.5% and significantly slowed the rise in blood sugar levels. Even less than a half of a teaspoon a day reduces blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics.

2. Favorably alters the blood lipid profile 

Diabetics can also reduce their risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease by consuming even one daily gram (about 1/3 teaspoon) of cinnamon. One 2003 USDA study found that after 40 days of eating between just 1 and 6 grams of cinnamon (about 2 teaspoons), type 2 diabetics were not only able to reduce their blood sugar levels by 18-29%, but also lowered their triglycerides by 23-30%, their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by 7 to 27% and total cholesterol by 12-26%. Note: the focus on [LDL cholesterol particles by number versus their quality is misleading. Learn more about the cholesterol myth here.]

3. Supports healthy blood clotting

Much research has been devoted to cinnamon’s effect on blood platelets which contribute to clotting. It helps thin the blood and prevent unwanted clumping of platelets. It is so effective as an anti-coagulant that patients taking prescription blood thinners are warned not to take cinnamon in concentrated form such as supplements or extracts. Cassia has higher concentrations of the blood-thinning agent coumarin, which is all the more reasont to opt for the Ceylon form.

4. Fights bacteria and fungus

Ayurvedic medicine has long used cinnamon for it anti-microbial qualities to support the immune system and prevent colds and flu. It has been proven to help stop the growth of bacteria, fungus and the common yeast Candida. One study showed that it is an effective alternative to chemical food preservatives and just a few drops of essential oil of cinnamon added to refrigerated carrot broth prevented the growth of food-borne pathogens for up to 60 days.

5. Boosts memory and protects the brain.

Chewing cinnamon flavored gum or just smelling the sweet spice has been found to improve brain activity. Research led by Dr. P. Zoladz and presented at the 2004 meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, in Sarasota, Florida concluded that cinnamon enhances cognitive processing and was found to improve test subjects scores related to attention, memory and visual-motor speed when working at a computer.

A 2011 study suggested that it may have a role in reducing the kind of chronic inflammation that leads to various neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, and meningitis.

6. Improves digestion

In traditional Chinese medicine, cinnamon has been used for flatulence, nausea and diarrhea. It is also believed to improve the body’s ability to digest fruit, milk and other dairy products.

Both cassia and real cinnamon are often labeled the same in North America. The true Ceylon version will be more expensive, and it will be a lighter shade of brown, a finer powder and have a sweeter scent. When buying the sticks, known as “quills,” keep in mind that, generally, cassia will be thicker and the two ends will be rolled toward each other rather than being rolled in one direction only.

Less Than 1 Tsp Ginger and Cinnamon Daily Relieves Muscle Soreness In Athletes


Many well-intentioned workout resolutions have been thwarted by the first signs of sore, stiff muscles in the days following a visit to the gym.  A new study finds that two common kitchen spices help relieve that post-workout muscle pain.

Less Than 1 Tsp Ginger and Cinnamon Daily Relieves Muscle Soreness In Athletes

Researchers at Iran’s Isfahan University of Medical Sciences studied the effects of ginger and cinnamon on the muscle pain of 60 fit female competitive Taekwondo players, aged 13-25 years.  The women were divided into three groups. For six weeks, each group took three grams (1 tsp = 4 grams) of either powdered ginger, cinnamon or placebo every day.

During the study, the women were tested for an indicator of inflammation and for muscle soreness.  The results, published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, showed that women in both the ginger and cinnamon groups had significantly less muscle soreness after exercising than the placebo group.  A similar study from the University of Georgia, also confirmed ginger’s ability to relieve muscle soreness after strenuous exercise.

The researchers did not find any difference in the inflammation marker among the three groups despite other studies showing strong anti-inflammatory qualities of ginger and cinnamon.  They speculated that the three gram dose may have been insufficient to make a measurable difference.

Both ginger and cinnamon have been used medicinally for thousands of years.  Each contains a wide range of compounds shown to curb inflammation, reduce oxidative stress and modulate other healing mechanisms within the body.

Ginger has a long list of amazing health benefits.  It’s been proven more effective against bacterial staph infections than antibiotics; can kill cancer cells; eases ulcerative colitis and acid reflux; and alleviates the effects of gamma radiation.

Ginger has been shown to be helpful in a relieving stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea due to seasickness, motion sickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy.  It also relieves pain, swelling, and reduced mobility in those suffering from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Its anti-viral properties help in the prevention and treatment of the common cold.

Cinnamon, the most popular spice, has been used for millennia both for its flavoring and medicinal qualities. The many health benefits of cinnamon include lowering blood sugar levels; improving insulin sensitivity; relieving inflammation from arthritis; alleviating menstrual cramps; supporting healthy blood clotting; fighting the overgrowth of bacteria, fungus and yeast; preventing colds and flu; boosting memory; and improving digestion.

Ginger and cinnamon go together naturally, sharing the ingredient list in many healthy recipes.  Add fresh ginger to teas, marinades, stir-fries and salad dressings.

Add cinnamon to a daily smoothie, applesauce or yogurt.  You can also drop a cinnamon stick into your steeping tea or a pot of coffee.

Then hit the gym.

Cinnamon May Be Superior to Ibuprofen for Menstrual Pain, Study Reveals


Why risk using a pain killer with deadly side effects? Natural alternatives are often not only safer but at least as effective.

New research reveals that cinnamon powder is effective at reducing symptoms of painful periods (primary dysmenorrhea) in college age students.

Cinnamon VS Ibuprofen For Menstrual Pain

Published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research and titled, “Comparative effect of cinnamon and Ibuprofen for treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized double-blind clinical trial,” Iranian researchers evaluated the effect of either 420 mg of cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), 400 mg of ibuprofen, or a starch placebo, in three groups of 38 females. Both pain intensity and duration were monitored in all groups, with the results reported as follows:

The mean pain severity score and mean duration of pain in Ibuprofen and Cinnamon were less than placebo group respectively (p< 0.001). Of 4 hours after the intervention there were no statistically significant differences between the Cinnamon and placebo group (p> 0.05). Of eight hours after the intervention, the mean pain severity in the cinnamon group was significantly lower than placebo group (p< 0.001). At various time intervals the mean pain severity in the Ibuprofen group were significantly less than Cinnamon and placebo groups (p< 0.001).”

The researchers concluded:

“Cinnamon can be regarded as a safe and effective treatment for primary dysmenorrhea. More researches are recommended to study the efficacy of Cinnamon on reducing menstrual bleeding.”

Discussion

Why do we consider cinnamon superior to ibuprofen? Considering the well known dangers of ibuprofen, which is estimated to kill several thousand a year from its cardiovascular side effects alone, cinnamon’s potential role as a natural alternative to this drug is highly promising. Unlike ibuprofen, cinnamon is not known to have cardiotoxic properties. To the contrary, it is known to have both blood pressure lowering and blood sugar lowering properties, both which may confer protection against cardiovascular disease.

As far as the question of its role in menstrual bleeding addressed in the conclusion above, a recent randomized, double-blinded clinical trial found that it actually reduced the severity of menstrual bleeding in women, making it a win-win as far as difficult or inconvenient menstruation symptoms go.

Beans, millets, cinnamon and more; these 7 superfoods will help you fight diabetes


On World Health Day, we tell you what to eat to maintain a safe distance from diabetes.

Picture courtesy: greenthyme.blogspot.in, indiacuisine.blogspot.in

With diabetes being the theme for World Health Day this year, an expert says one should include millets, beans and fish in regular diet to keep diabetes away. Neha Sewani, Dietician, Truweight, has shared what should be included to keep diabetes under control.

 

  1. Millets: These are very good source of protein, resistant starch, vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. They are rich in anti-oxidants.
  2. Beans: They are rich in fibre and protein, and also provide satiety and help control hunger pangs.
  3. Fish: They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acid which helps keep cholesterol and triglycerides in check. The omega-3 also helps the body fight against oxidative damage caused due to free radicals.
  4. Cinnamon: It helps in controlling the blood sugar levels, the active ingredient being the Coumarin. It should be taken early in the morning.
  5. Spirulina: It contains vitamins such as Vitamin A, B-complex, Vitamin E, minerals like iron, zinc, copper and selenium. It fulfills the micro-nutrient deficiencies which are usually present in diabetics due to improper food intake.
  6. Sweet potato: It is a good source of fibre. It also contains vitamin A and C which helps in enhancing the body’s immunity.
  7. Alfalfa: It is a very good source of chlorophyll, vitamin A, B-complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin K. It contains minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc along with phytoestrogens which help enhance the body’s immunity to fight against bacterial infection, fungal infection and also helps in lowering blood glucose.

5 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism.


coffee

You’ve decided to eat better by focusing on foods that are good for you, so why not take it a step further and incorporate some metabolism-boosting ingredients into your meals? While we can’t dramatically change the body we were born with, there are a few things we can do (and eat) to make a difference.
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Nutritionist Kelly Aronica shares some advice for giving your metabolism a kick, while we provide some easy meal ideas.

20 ‘Healthy’ Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy

Turmeric : Full of antioxidants, this colorful spice is also a great way to speed up your metabolism. It’s often found in Indian dishes or curries.

Cayenne and Other Chile Peppers : The capsaicin in chiles is what makes food spicy; so it’s safe to say that if it makes you sweat, it’s increasing your metabolism. These foods also provide carotenoids and twice the amount of vitamin C found in citrus fruits. They can easily be incorporated into a variety of dishes like salads, soups, curries, and more.

Ginger : Is a great ingredient to use because it has gingerols, capsaicin, and piperine – compounds that boost metabolism (they also supposedly have an aphrodisiac effect). Try ginger tea or cooking with real ginger. The spicier you make it, the better.

Caffeine : In the form of coffee or green tea, caffeine is an effective way to boost your metabolism. “Researchers credit the boost in metabolism to tea’s catechins, but you probably need about 2 cups a day to have any effect,” says Kelly Aronica. “However, you will also the get the other possible benefits of green tea that include reduction of risk of cancer and heart disease.” Coffee, in turn, has been shown to increase productivity and concentration, but be warned that because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, excessive amounts (more than 3-4 cups of coffee per day) have been linked to nervousness and sleeplessness. One to two cups a day, however, has been shown to be safe.

Cinnamon : Raises metabolism and aids in digestion so try adding a healthy dose to your high-fiber oatmeal in the morning! Or, try using it in savory dishes like the ones below.

Wise words and helpful lifestyle advice:
Another way to boost metabolism is to eat regularly: Meal skipping leads to low blood sugar, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and rebound overeating. Most people need to eat every 3-4 hours. This provides a constant flow of energy to your brain and muscles. Also, don’t overeat if you want to stay alert. When the body is flooded with a large meal, the result is a sluggish body and brain. So to keep up energy throughout the day, eat more small meals that each includes some whole grain carbohydrate, fruit/vegetable, and a little protein.

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Other than the exercise, no one of these foods is going to be a miracle weight loss aid. But added to an overall healthy diet and active lifestyle, they can help burn just a few extra calories every day.

Source: yahoo news