spice up your fall

Has this wonderful fall weather made you start thinking about the flavors of the season?  This week we are taking an in-depth look at cinnamon and its nourishing properties.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known.  It was used in ancient Egypt as a medicinal herb, beverage flavoring, and also as an embalming agent.  At one point in the ancient world, cinnamon was so highly treasured that it was considered to be more valuable than gold.

A single teaspoon of cinnamon is loaded with nutrients- among them iron, manganese, calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and approximately one gram of fiber.

Cinnamon has been found to combat the following diseases:

Diabetes

Recent studies have found that cinnamon may help control blood sugar levels. A 2003 study found that people with type 2 diabetes who took 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon reduced their fasting blood glucose levels by 18 to 29 percent, and also reduced triglycerides by 23 to 30 percent. It also reduced LDL cholesterol by 7 to 27 percent, and total cholesterol by 12 to 26 percent.

Cancer

A 2009 study found that the administration of a particular component in cinnamon, cinnamic aldehyde, impaired the proliferation of cancer cells and slowed the progression of melanoma in animal studies. A second study published in 2010 also found that cinnamon extracts were directly linked with anti-tumor effects.

Alzheimer’s Disease

According to a 2009 study, extracts of Ceylon cinnamon inhibited the formation of the proteins and filaments that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers isolated a certain flavonoid, proanthocyanidin, from cinnamon and determined it had the majority if the inhibitory properties.

How to select and store:

Cinnamon is available in either powder or stick form.  Most recipes call for ground cinnamon and if you are feeling adventurous, you can grind up cinnamon sticks in a spice grinder.  As with other foods and spices, choose organic whenever possible.

Ground cinnamon, as well as cinnamon sticks should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Simple cinnamon tea recipe:

1 cinnamon stick

1 regular or decaffeinated black teabag

1 cup of boiling water

stevia or honey to taste

Preparation:

1. Place the cinnamon stick in a cup.

2. Add the boiling water and steep covered for 10 minutes.

3. Add the teabag. Steep for one to three minutes.

4. Sweeten to taste, if desired.

5. Enjoy!

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