Before em-barking (pun intended) on this article, I had never really pondered much about Cinnamon and its origin. If someone were to ask me “What is Cinnamon?”, “Where does Cinnamon come from?” I’d shrug my shoulders.
All I knew is that it was nice on doughnuts…I never thought there would be so many health benefits of Cinnamon! And that you can use Cinnamon for weight loss! You mean, I can eat Cinnamon doughnuts AND lose weight? Probably not…but naturally, after hearing Cinnamon and weight loss in the same sentence, I was curious to find out more.
Here’s what I found out:
I’ll start at the beginning, nice and simple:
What is Cinnamon & Where Does Cinnamon Come From?
As most of you will know, Cinnamon is a spice. It is aromatic and is most commonly used in the Western world in baking…sweet and savoury! It is also used in many curries and cooking in the East. Versatility is a wonderful thing!
Here’s what Cinnamon looks like:
Cinnamon is made using the bark of a tree. There are two types of Cinnamon trees that are grown & harvested today.
- Ceylon Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum/Cinnamomum velum). This is known as true Cinnamon and is found in Sri Lanka & South India. The tree is an evergreen tree with a soft bark. The inner bark is peeled back to make Cinnamon quills or Cinnamon sticks and the old bark at the bottom of the tree is ground to make…ground Cinnamon! It has a subtle, sweet flavour and the quills are fine and brittle.
- Cassia Cinnamon (Cinnamomun aromaticaum/Cinnamomum cassia/Cinnamomum burmannii). This type of Cinnamon is found in South East Asia, mostly Indonesia, Vietnam & China. Cassia Cinnamon uses all of the layers of bark and therefore the quills are thicker and reddy/brown in appearance. Cassia is also more potent in taste & smell.
Is Cinnamon Good For You?
Sure is! However, there is one thing that is good to know – Although both types of Cinnamon trees come from the same family and also the same genus, there is a certain organic chemical compound called Coumarin that sets the two apart. Coumarin is found in many plants, however it is not beneficial to our health and can be toxic in large amounts. It may even cause liver damage and effect the nervous system. Cassia Cinnamon has a high concentration of Coumarin…so I would definitely recommend sticking with the true Ceylon Cinnamon if you want to gain the rewarding health benefits of Cinnamon!
Ceylon Cinnamon is usually more expensive and a little harder to find. If you are unable to find Ceylon and can only get your paws on Cassia, then experts say that in small amounts, Cassia Cinnamon can also have health benefits.
The recommended daily Cinnamon dose is half to one teaspoon per day and up to six grams for Ceylon Cinnamon. Overdoing it can cause sores or ulcers on the lips, tongue and inside of the mouth. Cinnamon must be respected as a powerful substance.
Remember to always consult your Doctor before increasing your Cinnamon dose if you are taking other medications.
If you’re feeling disheartened or worried about this Coumarin thing, please don’t! There is a wonderful, easy solution. You can filter Cinnamon through a coffee filter by pouring boiling water over it. The active compound in Cinnamon is water soluble, but Coumarin is not. Hallelujah! We can all receive the health benefits of Cinnamon without worrying about this pesky little compound. This could be put it in the fridge and added to drinks!
So what are the Benefits of Cinnamon?
Well there are many! The Cinnamon weight loss effects (inevitably) among the most exciting, but i’ll get to that in a minute …
Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known to man. The Ancient Egyptians used Cinnamon for its medicinal properties, as a spice for beverages and even as an embalming agent! In China it’s value was extremely high and has been recognised as a medicine since 2700 B.C.E in one of China’s earliest botanical medicine books. It has also been used in Western and Eastern medicine for centuries, including Ayurveda.
Alternatively you can try meditation techniques for weight loss.
The Health Benefits of Cinnamon include:
- Rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants can fight cell damaging free radicals that can potentially lead to conditions such as heart disease, cancer and premature ageing.
- Anti-inflammatory (lowering the risk of disease)
- Sexual Stimulant (Cinnamon Oil)
- Contains nutrients including calcium, iron, manganese and fibre
- Can be used as a treatment for head lice
- Anti clotting effect on the blood
- Satisfies the craving for sugar and sweet foods
More Benefits of Cinnamon include its ability to:
- Lower blood sugar levels & has a powerful anti-diabetic effect
- Improve cognitive function
- Improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin which regulates metabolism, energy use and is necessary to transport blood sugar to cells via the bloodstream
- Lower cholesterol
- Has beneficial effects on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s by inhibiting the buildup of a protein called ‘Tau’ in the brain, helping to protect neurons, normalise neurotransmitter levels and improve motor function
- May help fight the HIV virus – a lab study looking at HIV infected cells found that cinnamon was the most effective treatment of all 69 medicinal plants studied
- Protects against stroke
Traditionally, Cinnamon was used for:
- Painful menstruation
The main active component of Cinnamon is Cinnameldehyde which is responsible for giving cinnamon its flavour and odour. It is also the compound that gives Cinnamon its powerful effects on health and metabolism. Which leads us to …
… Cinnamon and Weight Loss!
Above, in the list of the benefits of Cinnamon, I mentioned Thermogenesis. This is the production of heat in an organism. Cinnamon is a warming spice and is also thermogenic, which means it has the ability to temporarily elevate body temperate slightly, which, in turn, rises the bodies metabolic rate!
Now, I’m not saying that by adding half a teaspoon of Cinnamon a day to your diet will have you shedding calories like my cat sheds its fur, but what I am saying is that it may elevate your metabolism so that it burns an additional 50-60 calories.
The rise in metabolism caused by Cinnamon is very slight.
Don’t think that by eating more, you will burn more…you won’t, you’ll just have a mouthful of sores as I mentioned before, which sounds terribly unpleasant.
Another Cinnamon weight loss effect is that it regulates blood sugar levels and increases insulin levels in the body which increases the metabolism of glucose.
High blood sugar levels can actually lead to your body storing more fat, so by regulating blood sugar levels, Cinnamon will help to prevent this excess fat storage, helping you lose weight. It also prevents the transformation of metabolized sugar into fat by influencing the way the sugar is metabolized.
It delays the passing of food from the stomach to the intestine, which means you will feel satisfied for longer and eat less…and Cinnamon also helps your body to process carbohydrates more efficiently which also assists in weight loss! I feel lighter already!
With all of these health benefits of Cinnamon & Cinnamon weight loss effects I can certainly see why they dub this amazing spice a superfood! It is now proudly displayed on my shelf.
Here are some ways you can add Cinnamon into your diet:
- Add it to your tea or coffee
- You can use a Cinnamon quill instead of a spoon for tea/coffee/hot chocolate. The Cinnamon will dissolve into your drink with the heat giving it a lovely sweet, spiciness!
- Sprinkle Cinnamon on your breakfast cereal or add it to your porridge
- Cinnamon is great on roasted/baked pumpkin or sweet potato
- Add it to your fruit juice
- Add some to your curries or soups
- Bake some healthy doughnuts & sprinkle some Cinnamon on top! Here’s a delicious gluten free, Vegan recipe I found!
- Make your own Cinnamon drink by adding one teaspoon to a cup of hot water and letting it cool. Once cool add a teaspoon of honey. You can add some lemon too for some extra goodness! One a day will ensure you are getting your daily Cinnamon health benefits & Cinnamon weight loss effects!
- You can also use Cinnamon oil. There’s a great list of uses on this website.
I hope you have found this article helpful!
Remember to Thrive Healthy!!
Written by Elyse Pickstone