Cinnamon is a great spice to add to your favorite dish for a little extra flavor. After all, its scent is very evocative; for me, it brings back memories of fall and warm apple-cinnamon drinks.
But it turns out that cinnamon is much more than just a tasty spice, it might also help keep you healthy.
The spice has been harvested and used in traditional medicine for close to 2,000 years.
Today, it is imported from four main countries: Indonesia, China, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. The spice comes from the inner bark of a dozen different evergreen trees that belong to the genus Cinnamomum. Various oils, extracted from the bark, roots and leaves, are also used for different traditional treatments.
Here are some ways that cinnamon could help improve health:
1) It could help reduce cognitive regression
A 2015 study in Advances in Experimental and Medicine Biology found that cinnamon extracts could be used as a therapy to fight the effects of beta-amyloid tau filaments. These filaments are believed to be what cause plaque buildup and tangles in the brain, leading to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
The liquid extracts, called cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin, come from steaming and distilling the bark of natural cinnamon. Ingested, they could help inhibit filaments from forming in the brain and they could also promote the destruction of tangles already present in the brain.
2) It could help manage diabetes
A 2012 study conducted on 66 Chinese participants with Type II diabetes showed that cinnamon could be helpful in reducing blood sugar levels. After taking 120 to 360 milligrams of cinnamon every day for 3 months, patients saw a decrease in blood glucose levels.
Another study, published in 2013 in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, suggested that cinnamon could stimulate the enzymes that control glucose metabolism, thereby lowering blood sugar. The spice could also be useful for stimulating insulin release. This is promising for the future, but further studies are needed to solidify these results in the medical world.
While these studies suggest that cinnamon could be helpful to diabetics, it is important that all patients continue to follow their doctor’s medical recommendations as improper cinnamon dosages could cause health risks.
3) It could lower your blood pressure
High blood pressure raises the risks of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis (a disease where the inner walls of the arteries become covered in plaque). So keeping your blood pressure in check is a high priority.
Health Impact News reports that supplementing your diet with cinnamon could help lower blood pressure, especially in pre-diabetic and diabetic people. And it could work even better when combined with another blood pressure-lowering ingredient, magnesium.
Livestrong suggests that a half a teaspoon a day of cinnamon could be enough to help.
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