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Spice Up Your Life

It’s that baking time of the year again! Gingersnaps, bread pudding and pumpkin pie are some of my favorite autumn treats. 

One ingredient that all these treats have in common is cinnamon — that delicious and healthy spice that can make even the blandest piece of toast taste like a delicacy. 

Siesta Botanicals carries organic Ceylon cinnamon, also called “true cinnamon.” It’s a much healthier version of the typical cinnamon (cassia) found in the grocery store. 

What is ceylon cinnamon?

Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), also known as true cinnamon, is a small evergreen tree belonging to the family Lauraceae, native to Sri Lanka. 

Ceylon cinnamon is considered a superfood and is loaded with powerful antioxidants. Although the inner bark of several other Cinnamomum species is also used to make cinnamon, cinnamon from C. verum is considered by culinarians to be of superior quality.

Cinnamon use dates back to 2800 BC. Traditionally, cinnamon has been used to help with bronchitis and upset stomach and gynecological problems. It was also used as an anointing or embalming agent. 

How many types of cinnamon are there?

There are mainly four types of cinnamon:

  • Ceylon cinnamon or true cinnamon or Mexican cinnamon
  • Indonesian cinnamon
  • Vietnamese cinnamon
  • Cassia cinnamon or Chinese cinnamon

What sets ceylon cinnamon apart from the others?

Ceylon cinnamon is softer and lighter in color and rolled in layers. The other types of cinnamon are darker, harder and rolled in a single layer. 

Although it’s more expensive, Ceylon cinnamon is preferred due to its delicate taste and low levels of coumarin. Coumarin is a compound found naturally in several plant species but can be harmful in large doses. Cassia cinnamon contains about 1% coumarin, but Ceylon has only 0.004% (250 times less). 

According to the European Food safe authority, cassia cinnamon has been the cause of exposure to coumarin which is highly hepatotoxic and carcinogenic. Because of this, if you eat a lot of cinnamon (more than 1-2 tsps per day), you should use Ceylon rather than cassia.

Traditional use of cinnamon

The use of cinnamon goes back to 2800 BC where it was first referred to as “Kwai” in the Chinese language. 

The Romans used cinnamon for its medicinal properties, particularly for the digestive and respiratory tract. It was also used in funerals to ward off the smell of dead bodies. In Egypt, cinnamon was used to embalm mummies as well as for its fragrance and flavoring properties.

Being highly treasured, cinnamon led to world exploration in the 15th century. According to a research paper, cinnamon was the “motivation behind Christopher Columbus’s voyage which led to the discovery of the new world and for Vasco da Gama’s exploration of South India and Sri Lanka.”

What are the health benefits of cinnamon?

Cinnamon has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, and antilipemic (prevents the accumulation of fatty substances in the blood) effects. Recently, several studies have looked at the beneficial effects of cinnamon on the blood and the brain, as well as in diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes. 

Ceylon cinnamon is loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For instance, it has high levels of beta-carotene, which is partly responsible for its rich brown color. 

Ceylon cinnamon’s active ingredient, cinnamaldehyde, lowers inflammation in the body. 

Inflammation plays a role in the development of many chronic diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cerebral injury, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, cancer, allergy, asthma, bronchitis, colitis, arthritis, renal ischemia, psoriasis, diabetes, obesity, depression, fatigue, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Consuming Ceylon cinnamon may be able to reduce symptoms of these conditions. 

Ceylon cinnamon may also be beneficial for people with insulin resistance or diabetes. Research suggests that consuming cinnamon can help your body regulate your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of hypo- or hyperglycemia.

In addition, since cinnamon helps control glucose levels in the brain, it may also be useful in some neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease. 

Cinnamon may also help reduce cholesterol. “Bad” LDL cholesterol is linked to problems like heart disease and stroke. Cinnamon seems to lower LDL and overall cholesterol levels without significantly affecting the “good” HDL cholesterol.

How to use it

Besides all of the amazing treats you can make with cinnamon, it’s also a potentiator for kratom.

Or you can simply add cinnamon to your favorite tea or you can make straight cinnamon tea. To make the latter, just add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to 1 cup of boiled water and stir. Add honey to taste.

You can also make amazing smoothies with cinnamon. Here’s a really good one:

Apple Cinnamon Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 medium apple, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons old fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (optional)
  • 1 cup milk or plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

  • Mix the ingredients in a blender until creamy.
  • Top with granola, diced apples and/or a pinch of cinnamon

Do you carry any other spices?

Yes! We also carry turmeric, an Ayurvedic spice with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a flowering plant of the ginger family Zingiberaceae. It’s native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia and has a long history of use in traditional medicine. 

Turmeric powder has a warm, bitter, black pepper-like flavor and earthy, mustard-like aroma. 

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is an efficient scavenger of free radicals. Research has shown that curcumin can benefit inflammation, pain, metabolic syndrome, and help in the management of inflammatory and degenerative eye conditions. 

In fact, curcumin has such strong anti-inflammatory action, that studies have shown it may be as effective as some any-inflammatory medications but without the side effects.

According to a review in the journal Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition, the authors write “In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric is thought to have many medicinal properties including strengthening the overall energy of the body, relieving gas, dispelling worms, improving digestion, regulating menstruation, dissolving gallstones, and relieving arthritis.”

 

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