Which spice will perfume your whole house in a few seconds and create a beautiful atmosphere? You guessed it, it’s cinnamon!
This type of spice has a wide range of uses, and in this article you will learn not only how to work with it, but also what benefits can be derived from it!
What is cinnamon?
It is an ancient spice that comes from the bark of several types of evergreen trees. Although this plant is grown throughout Asia, Europe and North America, the most popular types of cinnamon come from Sri Lanka and China.
In ancient times, it was valued both for its sweet, sharp and sensual aroma, and for its typical taste. The ancient Egyptians used it along with myrrh to embalm the dead, and the Romans burned it on funeral pyres.
During the Middle Ages in Europe, cinnamon was an ingredient enjoyed only by the elite. Over time, the cultivation of this sought-after spice spread throughout the world.
Types of cinnamon
Chinese cinnamon – cassia variety, is the most popular variety. It is typical for its dark and thick sticks in the shape of a double spiral and a bittersweet, hot spicy taste. Due to the high content of essential oil, this type is the most pungent variety.
Vietnamese or Saigon cinnamon – this type has the highest levels of cinnamic aldehyde and coumarin of all cinnamon varieties. This variety is most often used to flavor pho broth and other typical Vietnamese soups.
Indonesian cinnamon – comes from Southeast Asia and is less spicy than the Chinese and Vietnamese varieties. Its thick sticks are reddish-brown on the outside and gray-brown on the inside. Indonesian cinnamon is used in beef rendang (an Indonesian holiday dish).
Ceylon or true cinnamon – is originally from Sri Lanka. Its stamens are thin, fragile, and smooth, with a single spiral that appears tan on the outside and dark reddish brown on the inside. In terms of taste, it is milder than the Chinese variety and we can taste more floral and clove notes.
Health effects of ground cinnamon
This fragrant spice is credited with antibacterial, antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. People use it to treat insect bites, relieve urinary tract infection symptoms, and soothe rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Studies have explored the possibility that cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar, improve high cholesterol, fight dementia, and even treat multiple sclerosis.
So what can be treated with cinnamon:
- Antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal effects
The distinctive smell and taste of cinnamon comes from the essential oils contained in the bark, called cinnamaldehyde, which have these properties.
- Supports gut health
It has prebiotic properties that are produced by the bacteria behind the balance and good functioning of your gut. They support healthy digestion and alleviate any digestive problems.
- Regulates blood pressure
Consumption of cinnamon is associated with a short-term reduction in blood pressure.
- It lowers blood sugar and the risk of type 2 diabetes
Cinnamon is known to help regulate blood sugar levels.
- Fights brain aging
Cinnamon contains two compounds that appear to promote the production of a type of protein that can suppress the symptoms of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Adverse and side effects of cinnamon
Anyone who remembers the so-called cinnamon challenge knows that indiscriminate consumption of the spice can lead to choking, vomiting and breathing difficulties.
However, there is another health risk involving the aromatic compound coumarin, which is used as a substitute for vanilla in some countries. In high doses (really high), coumarin can lead to liver damage in sensitive individuals.
But the daily dose, which is around 3 grams, will not have any negative effects on your body.
Nutritional values of cinnamon (per 100 g)
|Calorie||Carbohydrates||Sugars||Fats||Saturated fatty acids||Proteins||Fiber||Salt|
|6 kcal||2 g||0 g||0 g||0 g||0 g||0 g||0 mg|
Vitamin and mineral content per 100 g
|11 mg||26 mg||2 mg||2 mg||1 mg|
What and where is cinnamon used?
Ground cinnamon – add it to dishes you prepare for breakfast such as oatmeal or rice porridge. It can be mixed into other foods or sprinkled on baked goods, desserts, savory dishes and drinks.
Dietary Supplements – sold in pill and capsule form and used for potential medicinal purposes such as those listed above.
Cinnamon Bark Sticks – great for dipping in a cup of tea, coffee or hot cider or tossing into a slow cooker with meat.
Tips for recipes with cinnamon
- Make your own honey granola
- Bake fragrant pastries (such as these fluffy cinnamon snails )
- Baked pumpkin
- Chicken shawarma
- Indian butter chicken (prepare butter chicken according to our recipe )
- Beef chili con carne
- Baked goods such as cinnamon rolls and buns
- Cookies, rolls and baklava (try this recipe for genuine baklava )
- Apple desserts – such as baked apples or apple pie with cinnamon crumble
- Cherry bubble with cinnamon
- French toast
- Churros ( the best recipes for fried churros dessert can only be found here)
- Warm drinks – mulled wine, grog, hot chocolate or spiced apple cider
Due to its penetrating, intense and characteristic aroma, the sticks and its essential oil are used in scented sachets or room fresheners.
Some people use cinnamon oil for bad breath or to treat toothaches and oral infections.
How to store cinnamon?
Store the sticks or powder in a cool, dark place in an airtight container to maintain its freshness. Ground cinnamon will last about six months, while cinnamon sticks will stay fresh for about a year if stored this way. To extend the shelf life of cinnamon, store it in the refrigerator.