Cinnamon An Aromatic Herb
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the bark of tender shoots of a tree called “Cinnamomum”. It is taken from the many species of laurel tree. The bark which is stripped from the laurel and dried, gives it the curled up and stick like look. That is how we call them cinnamon sticks. It has been in use since 2000 BC and was known as a healing herb by the Chinese.
Cinnamon has got a wonderful flavour and is used throughout the world for various cuisines. It has got an aromatic flavour due to the essential oils present in it. True Cinnamon is used for preparing desserts such as applepies, donuts, cinnamon buns, chocolates, hot cocoa etc. In the Middle East cinnamon is used in savoury dishes of chicken. Cinnamon can also be used in pickles. Cinnamon powder is often mixed with rose water or other spices to make cinnamon based curry powder for stews. In India, cinnamon powder is mostly used in sambar powder or bisibelebath powder.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CINNAMON
■ According to some studies, cinnamon improves blood glucose and cholesterol level in people with Type 2 diabetes. Research showed to have lowered the levels of fasting glucose, triglycerides and total cholesterol after 40 days of regular use of cinnamon.
■ Cinnamaldehyde, present in cinnamon, has been well researched for its effects on blood platelets. The cinnamaldehyde helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets, it does so by inhibiting the release of an inflammatory fatty acid called arachidonic acid from platelet membranes.
■ Just smelling the wonderful odour of this spice has been known to boost brain activity, by enhancing the cognitive processing. People regularly doing this activity tend to improve upon their attention processes, virtual recognition memory and working memory.
■ Cinnamon also contains important minerals like Manganese & Iron.
■ Cinnamon is an excellent source of dietary fibre & calcium. Both calcium and fibre can bind to bile salts and help remove them from the body. By removing them from the body, the body is prevented from damage that certain bile salts can cause to colon cells, thereby reducing the risk of colon cancer.
■ In addition to preventing colon cancer, the dietary fibre present in cinnamon also provides relief to sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome from constipation and diarrhoea.
■ It has been long valued in traditional Indian medicine for its warming qualities. In these traditions, cinnamon has been used to provide relief from cold or flu, especially when mixed with tea with some fresh ginger. Its anti-inflammatory properties help relieve from arthritis pain and urinary tract infections. Just take 2 gm of cinnamon powder added with 2gm of honey twice a day. Take little cinnamon powder add little water and apply on the affected area this will also give relief from pain.
■ Due to its powerful anti-microbial properties it can fight tooth decay and gum diseases. Simmer a glass of water with cinnamon till it is reduced to half glass and rinse mouth to get relief from dental decay. It has been used as a pain reliever as well.
OTHER BENEFITS OF CINNAMON
■ Due to its ability to stop the growth of bacteria as well as fungi including the commonly found yeast it is extensively used to preserve pickles.
■ Before refrigeration Egyptians used it for embalming process.
■ It was used in meats to mask the smell of decay as well as to retard the growth of bacteria.
■ Cinnamon toast can be a very healthy as well as tasty breakfast for kids. For that drizzle flax seed oil onto whole-wheat toast and then sprinkle with cinnamon and honey.
■ Simmering cinnamon sticks with soya-milk and honey can make for a deliciously warming beverage.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna