Cinnamon (Dalchini), a condiment used liberally as a garnish for almost every dish cooked in India, also has a host of health benefits. While some are known to people, most of them are unknown. With scientists and researchers confirming the goodness of Cinnamon, most people are only now realising the culinary, nutritional and medicinal value of Cinnamon.
Uniqueness of Cinnamon
It is the brown coloured bark of a tree and is generally available as a dried tube known as quill or in the powdered form. It is also a rich source of manganese. Its uniqueness is generally attributed to the presence of certain chemicals present in the form of essential oils. These essential oils, that are present in the bark of the cinnamon tree, are
- Cinnamyl acetate,
- Cinnamaldehyde and
- Cinnamyl alcohol
Healthy properties of Cinnamon
The many benefits of cinnamon are
- As an anti-clotting agent: In normal circumstances, instances of clotting hamper the smooth flow of blood as they result in the blockage of veins and arteries. The cinnamaldehyde present in cinnamon is well known for its anti-clotting properties. Hence the intake of Cinnamon helps to aid in the regular flow of blood in the body.
- As an anti-inflammatory food: Arachidonic acid, generally released by the membranes of the platelets, is a fatty acid which is inflammatory in its action. By preventing the release of this acid, Cinnamon helps to lessen its inflammatory action, thereby acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.
- Anti-Microbial in function: Cinnamon inhibits the growth of certain bacteria as well as fungi thereby making it an important anti-microbial food.
- As a controller of blood sugar: Carbohydrates peppered with cinnamon generally do not cause any increase in the blood sugar levels after food. This is because Cinnamon reduces the rate at which the food passes out of the intestine. This increases the time taken to digest food.
- As a powerful insulin stimulator: Cinnamon has been known to stimulate the receptors of insulin. This, in turn, increases the ability of a cell to utilise its glucose properly. Cinnamon is, thus, extremely beneficial to people suffering from type 2 diabetes.
- As an antioxidant: Cinnamon is also a very powerful antioxidant and prevents the oxidation of free radicals more effectively than any of the other six antioxidant spices like anise, licorice etc.
- As a booster of brain functions: The aroma of cinnamon also helps to give a boost to the functioning of the brain and improve one’s mental abilities.
- As a preventive against colon cancer: Cinnamon contains fibre and calcium, both of which are extremely adept at binding the harmful bile salts. This is done to throw them out of the body thereby reducing the risk of colon cancer.
- As a cardiac care giver: The reduction in bile caused by Cinnamon enhances the breakdown of cholesterol to produce more bile. This is done in an effort to keep its levels under control. In fact, Cinnamon also reduces the amount of triglycerides present in the blood along with cholesterol. This helps to reduce the chance of a cardiac arrest.