, one of the oldest spices, was the first commodity to be traded and was considered as precious as gold. The ancient Egyptians imported cinnamon from China and used it as a medicine, food enhancer and as an embalming agent.
The spice is aromatic and is stripped from the bark of the cinnamomum verum tree. It is dried in the sun and rolls up as cinnamon sticks. When the quills are ground, it is available as powdered cinnamon.
Cinnamon has a characteristic odor and a pungent taste, which is released by cinnamaldehyde aging in the presence of oxygen. The chemical components within cinnamon include eugenol, ethyl cinnamate, methyl chavicol, linalool, cinnamaldehyde and beta-caryophyllene.
The two popular varieties are ‘true cinnamon’, (Cinnamonum verum) a native of Sri Lanka and are of better quality. Cassia (Cinnamonum cassia) is commercially cultivated in south Asian countries like China, Indonesia and Vietnam. It is the aromatic bark of the Chinese cinnamon tree and is more pungent than the true cinnamon.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is associated with a number of health benefits. Most of the benefits of cinnamon on health are derived from the essential oils present in the bark of the tree. Cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate and cinnamyl alcohol in cinnamon have antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Along with its inherent properties that help fight inflammation, the flavor appeals to all age groups.
Reduces Bad Cholesterol
Various studies show that a pinch of cinnamon powder twice a day reduces triglyceride by 30%, bad (LDL) cholesterol and increases HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol are a major risk factor for heart disease
Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Cinnamon is proved to be beneficial for diabetics as it lowers high blood glucose levels by the activity of a special compound. Cinnamtannin B1, the tannin isolated from true cinnamon slows down the activity of enzymes, which metabolize glucose, stimulates glucose absorption by the cells and increasing insulin release.
Eases Menstrual Pain
Cinnamon helps to maintain a balance in hormones. Cinnamaldehyde, a natural compound in cinnamon increases the hormone progesterone and decreases testosterone production in women.
The anti-aging properties
of cinnamon protect the skin from free radical damage and keep the skin young and healthy. Cinnamon has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which help in keeping the skin free from infections. Add cinnamon to your morning tea for fresh and soft skin!
Kills Colon Cancer Cells
Cinnamon contains cinnamic aldehyde, which activates a protein that controls the expression of antioxidants. These anti-oxidants protect the colon cells against cell damage and prevent colon cancer. Melanoma is the tumor of melanin-forming cells mostly associated with skin cancer. Cinnamaldehyde exhibits anti-melanoma activity in mice injected with human skin cancer forming cells.
Prevents Neurodegenerative Diseases
Aggregation of a protein in the brain called tau, is a main feature of Alzheimer’s disease
. Cinnamon contains two compounds, cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin that have an inhibitory effect on tau proteins. These compounds have shown to prevent the clumping of tau proteins, preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Recipe with Cinnamon
Cinnamon Apple CakeIngredients
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- ¾ cup cream cheese
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp Salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 cups chopped peeled apple
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Beat 1½ cups sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.
- Add beaten eggs.
- Sieve the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, and beat till it all the ingredients blend well.
- Combine ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon.
- Combine the sugar and cinnamon mixture with apple in a bowl; stir apple mixture into batter.
- Pour batter into an 8-inch pan coated with butter.
- Bake at 350°F for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake pulls away from the sides of pan.
- Cool cake completely on a wire rack, and cut using a serrated knife.