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Cinnamon has unique medicinal properties. Throughout history, cinnamon has been linked to anti-clotting actions, anti-microbial activity, boosting brain function and aiding digestion.
Perhaps cinnamon is most notable for its ability to reduce blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
A 2006 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation found that cinnamon extract had a moderate effect on reducing fasting plasma glucose concentrations in type 2 diabetics.
A large study published in Diabetes Care in 2003 reported that an intake of 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon per day reduced serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes.
Nutritional information per 5 ml (1 teaspoon) cinnamon according to the Canadian Nutrient File (2005):
6 cal, 0.09 g protein, 0.07 g fat, 1.87 g carbohydrate, 1.3 g fibre, 0.391 mg manganese
Cinnamon is derived from the brown bark of the cinnamon tree. When dried, cinnamon will roll into tubular sticks known as quills. Cinnamon is also available in the ground form. There are hundreds of varieties of cinnamon; however the most common varieties are Ceylon and Cassia.
Ceylon cinnamon is regarded as the "true cinnamon". Ceylon cinnamon is lighter in colour and has a sweeter, more delicate flavour. This cinnamon is obtained from the thin inner bark of the plant. Ceylon cinnamon quills can easily be made into powder by using a coffee or spice grinder. Ceylon cinnamon is available in specialty stores.
Cassia cinnamon is a medium to light red-brownish colour. It is obtained from all the layers of the bark, and therefore tends to be woody in texture. Cassia cinnamon quills are much harder than Ceylon and cannot easily be ground. Most cinnamon sold in North American supermarkets is Cassia cinnamon.
Cinnamon should be kept in a sealed container in a cool, dark place. Ground cinnamon, like other powdered spices loses its flavour quickly. Ground cinnamon should keep for 6 months. Cinnamon sticks are able to retain their flavour for longer periods of time and should last for a year or more.
To make either form last longer, try storing cinnamon in the fridge in a sealed container.
Cinnamon is used in a variety of dishes. While it is most commonly used as an addition to baking, cinnamon is also used in many Middle Eastern and North African dishes. It can be found in many curry dishes in the form of garam masala. In Mexico, cinnamon is enjoyed with coffee and chocolate and brewed as tea.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy:
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Cinnamon, the brown bark of the cinnamon tree, is a common spice for cooking and baking, it is also well known for its healing properties. Cinnamon is regarded for its medicinal properties for everything from blood sugar control to aiding digestion.
Cinnamon is one of the oldest known spices, in fact it has been reported that in ancient Egypt, cinnamon was once more valuable than gold.
Read on to find out why this super spice should have a place in your kitchen.
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