Looking for an easy way to boost your wellness? It turns out there are some serious cinnamon benefits that may just be worth your while.
The Power of Cinnamon
Have you ever taken a bite of a dessert and tasted an unexpected hint of warmth and spice? Nine times out of ten, the secret is that extra dash of cinnamon. Sure, it gets plenty of attention around the holidays. Whether it’s a sprinkle on top of your hot cocoa or a tablespoon in your favorite gingerbread recipe, it always adds a bit of something to a recipe.
But cinnamon is so much more than just a fall and winter flavor. Beyond its culinary appeal, this age-old spice has plenty of potential health benefits that could play a pivotal role in holistic well-being. In this article, we’ll take a look at all the ways cinnamon can potentially boost your health, and also some ways to incorporate it into your diet.
*Please note that we are not a medical authority, and you should consult a medical professional before adding supplements to your diet.
Different Types of Cinnamon and Uses
There are four main types of cinnamon:
- True cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon, Mexican cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
- Indonesian cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmanni)
- Vietnamese cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureiroi)
- Cassia cinnamon or Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum).
While each of these has its uses, for all intents and purposes, we’ll focus on Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) in this article due to its exceptional benefits. Cassia cinnamon is more commonly found in supermarkets, but it contains higher amounts of coumarin, which can be harmful in large doses.
Keep in mind, cinnamon has potential health benefits, but it’s not a cure-all and should be used as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Before using cinnamon as a supplement or in large amounts, especially for specific health concerns, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional. This is especially true for individuals with liver problems or those taking medication that affects liver function, due to the coumarin content in Cassia cinnamon.
Cinnamon Benefits: The Superfood
Here are some potential health benefits of cinnamon based on scientific research:
- Antioxidant Properties: Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols, which help protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Some studies have found that the compounds in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help lower the risk of disease.
- Reduces Risk of Heart Disease: Cinnamon has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. It can reduce levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, while HDL cholesterol remains stable.
- Improves Sensitivity to Insulin: Insulin is crucial for regulating metabolism and energy use. Cinnamon can help improve sensitivity to insulin, which has implications for those with type 2 diabetes.
- Lowers Blood Sugar Levels: Cinnamon appears to reduce blood sugar levels in several ways, including by slowing the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract and improving insulin sensitivity.
- Antimicrobial and Antifungal Properties: Cinnamaldehyde, one of the main active components of cinnamon, may help fight various kinds of infection. Cinnamon oil has also shown potential as a topical treatment for certain types of fungal infections.
- Neuroprotective Effects: Some animal studies have suggested that cinnamon compounds might have neuroprotective effects, particularly against Parkinson’s disease, though this research is in its early stages.
- Reduces Symptoms of Neurodegenerative Diseases: Some studies have found that cinnamon may help inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. This research is in its early stages.
Recipes for Incorporating More Cinnamon into Your Diet
There’s no shortage of recipes out there that incorporate cinnamon! Here are a few of our favorites.
Honey Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- In a large bowl, combine the honey, olive oil, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Add the sweet potatoes and toss to coat.
- Add the potatoes to a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.
Cinnamon Hot Chocolate
Begin by warming 2 cups of whole milk in a saucepan over medium heat, ensuring it doesn’t boil. As the milk heats, whisk together three tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, two tablespoons of sugar, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Once the milk is hot but not boiling, whisk in the cocoa mixture until it’s fully dissolved and the liquid is smooth. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Allow the mixture to heat for another 1-2 minutes, continuing to stir frequently.
When the hot chocolate is thoroughly heated and slightly frothy, pour it into your favorite mug. For an extra touch of warmth and flavor, you can top the drink with whipped cream and sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon on top before serving
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Start by peeling and dicing one medium-sized apple into small chunks. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, stir in 1 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats and reduce the heat to a simmer. As the oats begin to cook and absorb the water, add the diced apple, one tablespoon of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Continue to stir occasionally, allowing the flavors to meld together and the apples to soften, for about 5 minutes or until the oatmeal reaches your desired consistency. If you prefer a creamier texture, feel free to add a splash of milk.
Once ready, transfer the oatmeal to a bowl, and for a final touch, sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on top and drizzle with honey or maple syrup if desired. Enjoy your warming bowl of apple cinnamon oatmeal; perfect for a chilly morning!
Cinnamon Spiced Nuts
Begin by preheating your oven to 300°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together one egg white and one tablespoon of water until it becomes frothy. To this mixture, add 2 cups of mixed nuts, ensuring they get a thorough coating. In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and a pinch of salt.
Mix these dry ingredients well. Pour this cinnamon-sugar blend over the wet nuts, tossing and stirring to ensure an even coat. Spread the coated nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, stirring once or twice to ensure even roasting and to prevent the nuts from sticking together.
Once golden and aromatic, remove the nuts from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet. They’ll become delightfully crunchy as they cool. Store your cinnamon-spiced nuts in an airtight container and enjoy them as a sweet and savory snack!
Begin by heating two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add one diced onion and three minced garlic cloves, sautéing until the onion is translucent. Introduce 1 pound of ground beef to the pot and brown it, breaking it up as it cooks. As the beef nears full browning, sprinkle in 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, one teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, one teaspoon of chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir these spices in, letting them toast, and release their aromas for about a minute. Pour in one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, 2 cups of beef or vegetable broth, and one can of drained and rinsed kidney beans.
Allow the chili to come to a simmer, and then reduce the heat, letting it bubble gently for about 30-40 minutes. The cinnamon will add subtle warmth and depth, contrasting beautifully with the other spices. Serve the chili hot, garnished with shredded cheese, sour cream, and chopped cilantro if desired. This cinnamon-spiced chili offers a unique twist on a classic dish, perfect for those chilly nights when you crave something hearty with a hint of sweetness.
Cinnamon Roasted Vegetables
Begin by preheating your oven to 425°F. Take a medley of 4 cups of your favorite root vegetables—such as carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and butternut squash—and cut them into uniform bite-sized pieces. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together three tablespoons of olive oil, one teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, salt, and black pepper to taste. Toss the prepared vegetables in this cinnamon-spiced oil mixture, ensuring they’re thoroughly coated.
Spread the coated vegetables out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast them in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until they’re tender and the edges are slightly caramelized. Halfway through the roasting time, give the vegetables a good stir to ensure even cooking. Once done, transfer the cinnamon-roasted vegetables to a serving dish. They can be garnished with a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley or a drizzle of honey for an added layer of flavor.
Cinnamon Spiced Pulled Pork
Begin with a 3 to 4-pound pork shoulder. In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon of brown sugar, one teaspoon of ground cinnamon, two teaspoons of smoked paprika, one teaspoon of ground cumin, one teaspoon of garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Rub this mixture generously all over the pork shoulder, ensuring it’s well-coated. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, sear the pork shoulder on all sides until it’s golden brown.
Transfer the seared pork to a slow cooker. To the slow cooker, add one finely chopped onion, three minced garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup of chicken or beef broth. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the pork is tender and easily shreds with a fork. Once done, remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred it using two forks.
You can toss the shredded pork with some of the cooking juices from the slow cooker for added moisture and flavor. Serve your cinnamon-spiced pulled pork on buns with coleslaw for a delightful sandwich, or alongside roasted vegetables and a salad for a hearty meal. The warming hint of cinnamon pairs beautifully with the rich, savory pork, creating a dish that’s both comforting and memorable.
Get the Most Out of Cinnamon!
Now that you know the potential health benefits of cinnamon and are equipped with some tasty recipes, you’re ready to start adding it to your daily routine. Whether it’s a sprinkle here and there or a cinnamon-heavy dish, the benefits are definitely worth it. What’s your favorite way to use cinnamon? Let us know on Instagram, and tag us in your favorite recipe @getfamilyapp!