Cinnamon: A Spice to Make Blood Sugar Nice

Vicente Villamón

Photo | Vicente Villamón

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Cinnamon

 is the spice that makes sugar act nice.  I don’t like too many sugary things, but I do love honey.  For years I’ve been adding cinnamon and cardamom into raw honey and mixing it really well with a fork to create, what may be, the greatest sweetener of all time.  I had no idea that cinnamon balances blood sugar, but that detail turns this honey concoction into a super food.

This reddish spice derived from the bark of a tropical evergreen tree was used since the beginning of time.  Not to its credit— but the Proverbs 7 woman did perfume her bed with it.  Moses used it, the Greeks and Romans were over this spice. Cinnamon was added to ancient Chinese and Indian medicines for ages.

There are two varieties of cinnamon: cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) is the stronger, sweeter type which is generally preferred in the US, Europe, China and Southeast Asia; and what is known as true cinnamon (Cinnamomum Verum) which is used in Mexico, Latin America, and South Asia.  But let’s talk about cassia.

Healing Qualities

A lot of research supports the effects of cinnamon.  It is proven to treat and prevent disorders like: cholesterol problems, Diabetes type 2 (not type 1), food poisoning, heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), insulin resistance (prediabetes), metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome, high triglycerides, yeast infections and a few other things I don’t know much about.

Diabetes type 2 is a drastic problem in the US caused by chronically high blood sugar which attacks arteries and veins and increases the risk of heart disease and leads to many problems.  Nerve damage, skin ulcers, vision loss, blindness, kidney failure and in critical situations choked blood flow leads to amputation of gangrenous toes, feet and lower limbs(Aggarwal and Yost 80).  It’s unspeakable but common.  Thus, thinking about our blood sugar is something that we should all do from time to time.

Preventative Qualities

But it’s not just for problem-solving.  Cinnamon is great for us, even at the peak of health because it prevents elevated glucose and blood lipid levels.  Swedish researchers found that it lowers blood sugar levels after a meal and then helps to process and store glucose (Aggarwal and Yost 81).

And let’s not forget the delightful, warming flavor and that smell.  Cinnamon smells like the holidays.  It doesn’t have to be consumed daily, but the spice is the simplest way to counterbalance some of the effects of sugar when we have more sweets on our tables.  Maybe that’s why it’s such hit around the holidays.

How to Use It

The quills can be used to infuse flavor for liquid dishes or beverages.  Ground cinnamon is used for baking and sprinkling on things.  It’s most fragrant when freshly ground, but since the quills are tough, grinding them requires a really good spice grinder so it may be easier to buy it ground.

It pairs well with:

  • Fruit, especially apples and bananas and dried fruits.
  • Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, squashes, zucchini, rutabaga, and carrots
  • Baked goods: pies, muffins, zucchini bread, banana-breads, oatmeal cookies, etc.
  • Breakfast foods: oatmeal and French toast.
  • Hot beverages: spiced teas, Masala chai, spiced wine, hot cocoa and even coffee.
  • Honey: Mix it into honey with cardamom and nutmeg.

I wish you a Happy, Spicey, and Healthy Thanksgiving!

Sources

Aggarwal, Bharat B., and Debora Yost. Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease. New York: Sterling Pub., 2011. Print.