If the word spice makes you conjure images of a carton of chilly, pepper and turmeric, I strongly suggest you read this post! Spices are not limited to black pepper, chilly, or turmeric. There is a whole world of aromatic herbs, flowers, barks and roots that not only aid digestion of food (which is the primary purpose of any spice, apart from adding taste) but carry a whole host of medical and aesthetic benefits. I studied pharmacy and one of my preferred subjects used to be Pharmacognosy, which is the study of medicinal plants. Taking it up from there, my Spice Racks series will narrate the scientifically researched benefits of selected spices and suggest some ways of including these spices in your daily food habits in easy, doable ways so that you can derive maximum benefit of these powerful foods. Let’s begin the journey with Cinnamon!
The mystic, earthy aromatic taste and enchanting aroma of this sweet spice has made it popular in every country of the world. Apart from being a great digesting aid, this spice has been the subject of hundreds of research projects across the world mainly because it contains so many medical benefits! The bark of the cinnamon tree is the useful spice.
Some of the well documented benefits of cinnamon are:
- Better blood sugar control: One of the best studied actions of cinnamon has been found in controlling blood sugar level. It helps control blood glucose levels in type-2 diabetes when taken along with regular medication.
- Possibly helpful in fighting obesity: Cinnamon contains a chemical called cinnamaldehyde which has been shown to improve blood lipid levels.
- Anti-cancer: Several cinnamon compounds have been linked with anticancer activity. It has been found to be effective in leukemia and skin cancer as per this paper.
- Anti-inflammatory: Inflammation (or swelling, if you may) of the cells of organs is the reason behind a number of diseases such as arthritis, gastritis, Alzheimer’s disease and common cold. Being a well known anti-inflammatory, cinnamon can help reduce this inflammation and hence, could be useful in preventing a number of diseases.
- Curing common cold: Because of the anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, cinnamon infusions are quite helpful and soothing during a cold.
- For younger-looking skin: Another study found significant benefits of cinnamon in increasing collagen production in skin, thus preventing skin ageing.
How to get your daily dose:
- Cinnamon coffee: Sprinkle it over your daily cup of cappuccino for the earthy aroma and a marvellous tasting coffee.
- Hot toddy: This is a sure shot cure for common cold. Pour honey, boiling water, and whiskey/brandy into a mug. A stick of cinnamon and a few cloves should be added to spice the cocktail, followed by a slice of lemon. Sprinkle some nutmeg powder on top before serving.
- Cinnamon jam toast: Sprinkle some cinnamon on your buttered and jammed toast for an enhanced taste experience.
- Cinnamon water: A stick of crude cinnamon in your daily bottle of water is an excellent way to achieve the benefits of cinnamon, along with hydrating yourself in a fun and delicious way.
Beauty fixes using cinnamon
- Honey and cinnamon face scrub/mask: A teaspoon of fine cinnamon with a tablespoon of honey makes for a great face mask and even a scrub. However, just ensure that you scrub with very low force and not over-exfoliate, else it can irritate the skin badly.
- Cinnamon lip scrub as lip plumper: Cinnamon mixed with Vaseline or olive oil can serve as a lip plumper when massaged for a while, leaving lips fuller. However, do it with caution.
However, excess of anything can have negative effects, so don’t gulp down several teaspoons of cinnamon in a single day to get its benefits. Include it in small quantities everyday for best results.
Go ahead and include cinnamon everywhere you can! You will be doing your body a favour 🙂