Cinnamon . . . there’s no mistaking its beckoning aroma, the one that tickles your nose and makes your stomach growl for apple pie.  But did you know that while this lovely spice is tantalizing your taste buds, it is also doing some real and serious work inside you?   

Reduces Blood Sugar

One of the most amazing benefits of cinnamon is its ability to help moderate blood sugar.  New phyto-chemicals have been discovered in cinnamon – chalcone polymers – that increase glucose metabolism in cells by an astounding twentyfold or more.  In one human study, daily amounts as low as ¼ to ½ teaspoon per day produced a 20% drop in blood sugar!  With the growing epidemic of diabetes, this is certainly newsworthy.  A spice that mimics insulin, increasing glucose uptake by cells, and helping other cells convert glucose to glycogen (stored sugar) – well, that is enough to propel this spice into stardome –  but there’s more.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Cinnamon contains compounds that may help reduce the pain and stiffness of muscles and joints.  It has been shown to lower the release of arachidonic acid from cell membranes, lessening inflammation.  As shown in a study conducted at Copenhagen University, consuming just half a teaspoon of cinnamon in one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast relieves arthritis pain.

Antimicrobial Action

Fighting yeast infections?  Cinnamon oil may be able to help.  Phytochemicals called eugenol and geraniol have antimicrobial activity, and can help combat candida.   Growth of yeasts in laboratory tests that were resistant to the anti-fungal medication fluconazole was often stopped by cinnamon extracts.

Digestive Aid

Cinnamon is terrific for stomach trouble.  Studies have shown that it can relieve painful stomach gas.  A nice cup of cinnamon tea can relieve nausea.  Concerned your sick child is not eating enough?  Cinnamon can help boost the appetite.

Reduce Bad Cholesterol

Okay, here is some more serious cinnamon news:  A study published in Diabetic Care shows that cinnamon also reduces triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) in people with type 2 diabetes!  Out of a group of 60 people, half received a placebo, and the other half received 1, 3 or 6 grams of cinnamon daily.  After 40 days, the group receiving the cinnamon had their triglycerides lowered 23-30%, LDL lowered by 7-27% and total cholesterol by 12-26%.  That’s powerful stuff!

Reduces Blood Pressure

Cinnamon may also play a role in blood pressure regulation.  A new animal study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition concluded that adding substances like cinnamon to the diet may have a positive influence on blood pressure.

Because cinnamon can act as a blood thinner, those on an aspirin regimen or other blood thinning medications should not take cinnamon in large amounts.  If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or have ulcers, you should likewise avoid cinnamon as a treatment.  If you have other serious health concerns, check with your doctor before adding therapeutic doses of cinnamon to your diet.

If you don’t fall into any of these categories, it is easier than ever to get the health benefits of cinnamon.  Expensive oil extracts are not required. Buying ground cinnamon in bulk is cost-effective.  So sprinkle some cinnamon on your oatmeal and whole wheat toast.  Add it to your spaghetti sauce (Yes!  Try it!) or give your coffee a delicious dusting.

How do you best enjoy cinnamon?

Here’s how I enjoyed Cinnamon this morning:

Cinnamon-Raisin Whole Wheat Waffles with Cream Cheese Topping

Cinnamon-Raisn Whole Wheat Waffles

Cinnamon-Raisin Whole Wheat Waffles with Cream Cheese Topping

Waffles

½ cup plump raisins
2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
1 cup white whole wheat flour
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup plain kefir
¾ cup coconut milk dairy replacement
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Preheat waffle iron.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar.  In another bowl, whisk together the kefir, coconut milk, vanilla extract and eggs.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.  Fold in the raisins and melted butter and coconut oil.

Lightly butter or spray the grids of your iron.  Spoon out ½ to 2/3 cup of batter onto the grids.  Spread batter to the edges.  Close the lid and bake until golden brown.  Top each serving with a dollop of cream cheese topping and syrup.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Topping

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons half & half
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste

Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.

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