Cinnamon for health

Cinnamon has health benefits.

Once considered quite rare, cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known and commonly used in households today. Cinnamon has been used as a medicine, for flavoring, as an embalming agent and preservative.

Cinnamon is available as dried tubular sticks or ground powder and comes from the brown inner bark of a small tree. The oils in the bark among other substances give cinnamon its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Two teaspoons of cinnamon provide 44 percent of daily value for manganese, which helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels, strong bones and 10 percent of daily value of dietary fiber. Michigan State University Extension says that one-half to one teaspoon of cinnamon is recommended daily as there is no set dose.

Research shows that seasoning high-carbohydrate foods with cinnamon can significantly reduce the rise in blood sugar levels, by lowering the rate at which the stomach empties after meals. It may also help normalize blood sugar levels of people with Type 2 diabetes, by improving their ability to respond to insulin.

The two most common varieties of cinnamon include Ceylon and Chinese cinnamon. Ceylon is very similar to the Chinese cinnamon, but difficult to find. It is sweeter and more refined. The best indicator for freshness is cinnamon’s pungent, sweet scent. Cinnamon sticks can be stored for up to a year in a tightly sealed glass container kept in a cool, dark place, twice as long as the stronger-flavored ground cinnamon. Cinnamon is very versatile and can be used in baked goods, simmered in teas and milk as well as mixed into main dishes such as beans for unique ethnic twists.

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