Cinnamon is usually considered a winter spice: You might bust it out when it’s your turn to host the company Christmas party or you’ll see it added to your local bar’s seasonal drink menu, but this spice doesn’t have to hide when temperatures begin to rise. In fact, the fragrant, potent ingredient can play an important role in your summer dishes—and offer a ton of health benefits in the process.
Essential oils found in cinnamon bark help to regulate blood flow, prevent clumping of blood platelets, and lower the release of certain cell membrane acids that contribute to inflammatory diseases—particularly arthritis. Additionally, a recent study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine found that athletes who regularly ingested cinnamon powder showed a decrease in muscle soreness; so, it can encourage you to keep those activity levels up! And if that doesn’t convince you to embrace this spicy ingredient, did you know that cinnamon may help ease menstrual symptoms? Cinnamon contains the natural chemical cinnamaldehyde, which helps to balance hormones, reduce heavy bleeding, and alleviate cramps.
Controls Blood Sugar
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that adding cinnamon to carb-heavy meals increased the time it took to empty the stomach after eating; thus, the spice was effective in reducing the rise of blood sugar that is normally associated with those meals. The researchers also noted previous studies indicating that cinnamon lowers total cholesterol concentrations. Regulated blood sugar levels work to stabilize both energy levels and mood—adding cinnamon to your diet may not only reduce your risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, but also prevent the onset of fatigue or depression.
Cinnamon has the ability to stop the growth of bacteria and fungi, making it a natural food preservative.
Research has shown that simply smelling cinnamon can increase cognitive functions such as memory and visual-motor speed, so even using it as a garnish for dishes or drinks can have beneficial effects. When ingested, cinnamon is metabolized into sodium benzoate—and elevated sodium benzoate levels in the brain have been linked to stimulated brain activity and a reduced risk for the development of brain disorders, according to a report published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.
Contains Essential Nutrients
Cinnamon provides the body with fiber, calcium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and more. These all help to improve overall body and heart health.
So, are you ready to spice up your summer? For a quick cinna-jolt, add a few pinches to your cereal, stir into oatmeal, or sprinkle over peanut butter toast.