Herbs are nowadays fortunately used more often regarding health benefits. And that’s a good thing, since almost all herbs in the world have many benefits for our body. Fortunately, cinnamon is a spice that many people know is healthy. And yet it is not used very much. This is of course very sinful.
You probably don’t know how powerful these benefits are yet. After reading this article, you will add a small amount of cinnamon to each cup of coffee because you will realise how healthy this spice is. In this article you will also learn:
- What is the healthy active ingredient in cinnamon
- What are the two forms of cinnamon?
- Which 7 benefits cinnamon has?
- Whether there is an upper limit when it comes to ingesting cinnamon?
What is cinnamon made of?
Cinnamon is a spice made from the inner bark of the cinnamomum tree.
Fortunately, you don’t have to remember it. But that’s where the English word cinnamon (which means cinnamon) comes from. Pieces of the bark are dried after which they curl up. That’s where the cinnamon sticks come from. These cinnamon sticks can then be ground into powder, creating cinnamon powder.
Pieces of the bark are dried after which they curl up. That’s where the cinnamon sticks come from. These cinnamon sticks can then be ground into powder, creating cinnamon powder. Cinnamon contains essential oils. This is what makes cinnamon so healthy. But which specific substance is so healthy in cinnamon?
Cinnamic aldehyde provides the specific smell and taste of cinnamon. In addition to this delicious taste, this substance also provides the many health benefits of cinnamon.
Two types of cinnamon
Most people do not know that there are two main types of this spice. Both contain the healthy substance cinnamaldehyde, but one of the two also contains a toxin that can be harmful if you ingest large amounts. The two types are cassia cinnamon and ceylon cinnamon .
This is a type of cinnamon that comes from China. In addition, it is grown in several countries in Asia. This type of cinnamon is also called Chinese cinnamon for this reason.
Cassia cinnamon has a dark brown-red color. It is generally a bit thicker and rougher than Ceylon cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is the type of cinnamon that can generally be found in our supermarkets. And is considered to be cinnamon which is of lower quality. It would also be different.
This type of cinnamon is very cheap and is therefore generally available all over the world. It turns out that 95% of the oil consists of cinnamaldehyde.This is exactly why this type of cinnamon has such a strong and spicy taste when you only use a small amount.
This type of cinnamon comes mainly from Sri Lanka and southern parts of India. This is also seen as the ‘real’ cinnamon. Although this type of cinnamon is much more difficult to obtain.
Ceylon has a light brown color and contains less cinnamaldehyde than the cassia variety. This variant contains only 50 to 60% cinnamic aldehyde . That is why this type of cinnamon also has a less strong taste. After all, it was cinnamaldehyde that provided a spicy smell and taste.
Ceylon is a lot more expensive than the ‘normal’ cassia variety and is therefore a lot more difficult to obtain.
For the savvy readers, the following question may have come up : Why is the Ceylon variant the healthy variant while it contains less cinnamaldehyde? Since cinnamic aldehyde was the substance that provides the health benefits. That’s exactly what I thought too. And that has not so much to do with the cinnamaldehyde, but with the substance coumarin . This is a substance that occurs naturally in many plant species. And this substance is toxic to our body in large quantities.
The upper limit of coumarin intake is 0.1 mg/kg body weight . A person weighing 75 kilograms therefore ideally eats a maximum of 0.75 mg of coumarin.
Benefits of cinnamon
You now know which of the two variants is better. However, with both types of cinnamon you do have the health benefits of cinnamic aldehyde.
Benefit #1: Contains a lot of antioxidants
There we have that bad word again. Many people prefer to skip this word as they have no idea what it means. I’m going to try to explain it to you anyway: Antioxidants ensure that free radicals in our body are cleaned up, so that they can do no further damage to healthy body cells. Free radicals are unhealthy substances that arise as a by-product of body processes and can react with healthy cells in our body. This can damage these healthy cells.
Antioxidants therefore help to keep our healthy body cells healthy. In addition, antioxidants also ensure that our body becomes more efficient in clearing pathogens. This has to do with antioxidants activating our defense mechanisms. Our body therefore also becomes stronger. You can actually find antioxidants in every plant substance. Cinnamon also appears to be full of antioxidants. Cinnamon contains polyphenols.
In a particular study comparing 26 spices, cinnamon was found to contain one of the most antioxidants .This one was even found to beat garlic in antioxidants.
A fun fact: it even turns out that cinnamon is so powerful due to its amount of antioxidants that it can also be used as a natural preservative.
Benefit #2: Cinnamon has an anti-inflammatory effect
You are probably thinking: very nice that it contains so many antioxidants, but what specific benefits does this have? Almost all of the benefits I mention in this article have to do in whole or in part with the amount of antioxidants cinnamon contains.
The same goes for the anti-inflammatory effect of cinnamon.
Inflammatory reactions are extremely important for our body. They ensure that the body can fight infections. Suppose you have a wound from falling on the street.
This automatically triggers an inflammatory reaction in which the wound becomes slightly warm and red. Many people assume that it is infected, but that is not the case. That only happens when bacteria infect the wound.
During the day many inflammatory reactions occur in our body precisely to keep our body healthy. It can only become a problem when the inflammatory reactions are chronic or the inflammatory reactions occur against healthy body cells (autoimmune reaction).
And that’s where cinnamon can do its job. The antioxidants in cinnamon have an anti-inflammatory effect.This reduces the risk of chronic inflammation and reduces the inflammatory values in the blood.
Benefit #3: Has a positive effect on your blood sugar level
This benefit is perhaps one of the most important of cinnamon. Nowadays, more and more people are overweight, which means that more and more people develop type 2 diabetes.
This is a disease of affluence, which we hardly knew in the past. In type 2 diabetes, your cells become insensitive to insulin because your body is constantly bombarded with sugars. Your pancreas normally produces the hormone insulin to be able to remove the sugars from the blood and transport them to your body cells.
When your body is continuously supplied with sugars – and your pancreas then has to work overtime to produce insulin – your cells need more and more insulin to be able to process sugars. Until your body cells can no longer handle it and the sugars in your blood continue to float around. This creates a continuously elevated blood sugar level and you are a type 2 diabetes patient.
Cinnamon has a positive effect on blood sugar levels
But here too cinnamon plays a hero role by having a positive effect on your blood sugar level. Cinnamon may lower blood sugar through several mechanisms:
First of all, it appears that cinnamon can lower the amount of glucose that is absorbed into the blood after a meal. This is because cinnamon mixes with numerous digestive enzymes, which lowers the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut.
Secondly, there appears to be a substance in cinnamon that is very similar to the body’s own substance insulin. It also has the same effect, allowing glucose to be better absorbed from the bloodstream and transported to our body cells.
Both points ensure that cinnamon has many good anti-diabetic effects. For example, research shows that cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels up to 29%. The dosage at which this effect occurs is at about 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon per day. This is about two tablespoons per day.
Benefit #4: It increases insulin sensitivity
If you thought I was done with type 2 diabetes by now, you’re wrong.
Because cinnamon also appears to increase the insulin sensitivity of the body cells.
Insulin is one of the most important hormones that regulate your metabolism and energy expenditure. Insulin ensures that the gates to your body cells are opened so that sugars can be transported to the cells.
In type 2 diabetes, our body cells initially become insensitive to insulin. This is also known as insulin resistance.
The pancreas therefore still produces insulin, but the sugars cannot be absorbed by our body cells. The gates of these cells do not open when insulin is in the blood.
Cinnamon helps with insulin resistance
But then comes the good news. Cinnamon can greatly reduce insulin resistance. This allows insulin to continue to do its job much better and sugars can be transported to our body cells instead of floating around in our blood.
This reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. And even if you have type 2 diabetes, you can improve and sometimes even reverse it. Especially when you combine this with a healthy lifestyle. Because cinnamon counteracts insulin resistance, it also lowers blood sugar levels.
Benefit #5: It lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease is a major problem in the Netherlands. Every day in the Netherlands around 1000 people are admitted with cardiovascular diseases. In the Netherlands, cardiovascular disease is the number 2 cause of death .
This disease has only really become a problem in the past century. And you can largely influence that yourself. An unhealthy lifestyle increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Conversely, a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
And when you add cinnamon to a healthy lifestyle, it can have even more positive influences on your heart and blood vessels. Cinnamon, for example, appears to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol in the blood . High LDL cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. But there is an even better predictor for developing cardiovascular disease. And that is low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).
Positive effect on your cholesterol levels
A large review article concluded that a dose of 120 mg of cinnamon per day lowered LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol. This shows that cinnamon reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Now it is of course not the case that when you eat cinnamon, you can have a bad diet and that this cancels each other out. Cinnamon certainly has a positive effect on your cholesterol levels, but a poor diet worsens your cholesterol levels more than cinnamon can improve it. So don’t be tempted.
Benefit #6: It lowers the risk of neurodegenerative diseases
Neurodegenerative diseases are a fancy word for diseases in which brain cells lose function. The two most common neurodegenerative diseases are:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease in
Alzheimer’s is a brain disease in which people become increasingly forgetful. This disease is a form of dementia. Often it starts with being confused and having problems with memory.
Parkinson’s is a disease characterized by the trembling movements of the hands, legs and chin. In addition, people with Parkinson’s move more slowly and have difficulty starting movements.
Both diseases are caused by amyloidosis
This is a disease in which proteins clump together and build up around healthy cells, causing them to die and lose their function. In the above diseases, this happens around brain cells. In general, this is a normal process of aging.
However, these types of diseases increasingly arise at a younger age. An unhealthy lifestyle also plays an important role here. But that aside. Now there are two substances in cinnamon that appear to inhibit the accumulation of a certain protein that is involved in Alzheimer’s disease. Additional research still needs to be done, but most studies are positive.
Benefit #7: Cinnamon can protect against cancer
This article has already mentioned quite a few aging diseases. And there’s one last one. And perhaps a very important one.In cancer, certain cells of the body grow uncontrollably. More and more people in the Netherlands are dealing with this disease. Cancer can literally start anywhere in the body. That is why there are so many different types of cancer.
Several studies have now shown that cinnamon may have a protective effect against the development of cancer. However, I must add that these types of studies are often in vitro studies (carried out in a test tube) or studies performed on mice .
How can cinnamon have a protective effect against cancer? It works by reducing the growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels that prevent cancer cells from growing.
In addition, cinnamon appears to be toxic to cancer cells, which can cause cell death. Cinnamon appears to activate protective antioxidant reactions in our body that have a protective effect on our body.
However, these findings have yet to be proven in human studies.