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Food for Life - Caribbean - Cinnamon

Cinnamon has a long history both as a spice and as a medicine. It is the brown bark of the cinnamon tree, which is available in its dried tubular form known as a quill or as ground powder. The two varieties of cinnamon, Chinese and Ceylon, have similar flavor, however the cinnamon from Ceylon is slightly sweeter, more refined and more difficult to find in local markets.

Health Benefits
Cinnamon's unique healing abilities come from three basic types of components in the essential oils found in its bark. These oils contain active components called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, plus a wide range of other volatile substances.

Anti-Clotting Actions
Cinnamaldehyde (also called cinnamic aldehyde) has been well-researched for its effects on blood platelets. Platelets are constituents of blood that are meant to clump together under emergency circumstances (like physical injury) as a way to stop bleeding, but under normal circumstances, they can make blood flow inadequate if they clump together too much. The cinnaldehyde in cinnamon helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets. Cinnamon's ability to lower the release of arachidonic acid from cell membranes also puts it in the category of an "anti-inflammatory" food that can be helpful in lessening inflammation.

Anti-Microbial Activity
Cinnamon's essential oils also qualify it as an "anti-microbial" food, and cinnamon has been studied for its ability to help stop the growth of bacteria as well as fungi, including the commonly problematic yeast Candida. In laboratory tests, growth of yeasts that were resistant to the commonly used anti-fungal medication fluconazole was often (though not always) stopped by cinnamon extracts.

Blood Sugar Control
Seasoning a high carb food with cinnamon can help lessen its impact on your blood sugar levels. Cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, reducing the rise in blood sugar after eating. Researchers measured how quickly the stomach emptied after 14 healthy subjects ate 300 grams (1.2 cups) of rice pudding alone or seasoned with 6 grams (1.2 teaspoons) of cinnamon. Adding cinnamon to the rice pudding lowered the gastric emptying rate from 37% to 34.5% and significantly lessened the rise in blood sugar levels after eating. Am J Clin Nutr. 2 007 Jun;85(6):1552-6.
Cinnamon may also significantly help people with type 2 diabetes improve their ability to respond to insulin, thus normalizing their blood sugar levels.

By enhancing insulin signaling, cinnamon can prevent insulin resistance even in animals fed a high-fructose diet! A study published in Hormone Metabolism Research showed that when rats fed a high-fructose diet were also given cinnamon extract, their ability to respond to and utilize glucose (blood sugar) was improved so much that it was the same as that of rats on a normal (control) diet.

Cinnamon is so powerful an antioxidant that, when compared to six other antioxidant spices (anise, ginger, licorice, mint, nutmeg and vanilla) and the chemical food preservatives (BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), and propyl gallate), cinnamon prevented oxidation more effectively than all the other spices (except mint) and the chemical antioxidants.

Cinnamon's Scent Boosts Brain Function
Not only does consuming cinnamon improve the body's ability to utilize blood sugar, but just smelling the wonderful odor of this sweet spice boosts brain activity!

Calcium and Fiber Improve Colon Health and Protect Against Heart Disease
In addition to its unique essential oils, cinnamon is an excellent source of fiber and the trace mineral manganese while also a very good source of calcium. The combination of calcium and fiber in cinnamon is important and can be helpful for the prevention of several different conditions.

Information sourced from www.whfoods.com



 
 
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