7 Science Backed Health Benefits of Cinnamon & A Sensational Smoothie

While our ancestors recognized the magic of cinnamon, its medicinal uses were restricted to digestive, respiratory and antibacterial ailments. The greater power of cinnamon is only just becoming apparent as modern science unearths the real potency of this ancient, medicinal and delicious spice!

Cinnamaldehyde is the main volatile oil found in the cinnamon bark and responsible for most of its medicinal properties. As previously discussed, please be mindful of which cinnamon you enjoy, if using it regularly and more abundantly. Ceylon cinnamon, thanks to its negligible coumarin content, is the way to go.

There is reasonable modern scientific evidence for the following health benefits of cinnamon: 

1) Anti-Diabetes
Studies on type II diabetics have shown that even less than 1/2 a teaspoon a day of cinnamon for 4 months reduces blood glucose levels. There is evidence that cinnamon improves the function of insulin, the hormone that coaxes our cells to soak up blood sugar and use it for energy. Rice pudding flavored with cinnamon spiked blood sugar less than bland rice pudding (and probably tasted loads better too)! 

2) Anti-Microbial (bacterial, fungal viral)
Our ancestors used cinnamon to prevent food spoilage and for good reason. Cinnamon can kill bacteria, viruses and even drug-resistant fungi. It can disrupt a particularly nasty type of bacterial colony called a biofilm that coats the surface of medical devices and wreaks havoc with hospital-acquired infections. To be a potent medicinal antibiotic, cinnamaldehyde would have to be improved substantially, which is no small pharmaceutical feat. Nonetheless, you can feel good about adding cinnamon to that meat dish to keep it from spoiling too quick!

3) Anti-Inflammatory
Inflammation is pivotal for our body's defense against invaders but unwanted inflammation can contribute to chronic diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's. Cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory compound - it blocks inflammatory molecules like arachidonic acid and TNF-alpha, keeping unnecessary inflammation in check and inflammation-related diseases at bay. 

4) Cardioprotective 
Cinnamon has been shown to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol while sparing good (HDL) cholesterol although some conflicting data remain to be sorted out. Cinnamon can also lower blood pressure and reduce triglycerides, suggesting it may benefit heart health. 

5) Cognition boosting
Studies in animal models have shown that cinnamon improves memory and learning by reducing oxidative stress in the brain. The spice may also protect dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson's disease. A small study in humans demonstrated that the mere scent of cinnamon improved cognitive function. Larger, more systematic studies are warranted to confirm these provocative findings. 

6) Anti-Cancer
Cinnamon slowed tumor growth in several animal models although human studies have not been conducted yet. The spice inhibits the function of a molecule called NF-kappaB which turns on many cancer causing genes. It can also block proteins that allow cancers to access our blood supply and spread throughout the body. 

7) Regulating Female Hormonal Cycle
In a provocative albeit small-scale study conducted by researchers at Columbia University in New York, cinnamon improved menstrual regularity in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Larger trials are necessary but the findings are intriguing given the link between insulin resistance and PCOS and cinnamon's positive effects on insulin function. 

To no one's surprise, nature's pantry and pharmacy merge once again. Without further ado then, let's get in the kitchen!  

RECIPE

Cinnamon Chocolate Smoothie
Toddler, Kid, Adult

Yield
2 toddler servings depending on appetite!

Ingredients
3/4 cup almond milk
1 banana frozen
1 date
1 teaspoon raw cacao powder (regular is fine but you really do miss out on major health benefits!)
1/4 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 teaspoon ground Ceylon cinnamon (1/4 teaspoon if using the widely available Cassia variety)

Method
Blend ingredients until smooth. Enjoy for a burst of luxurious, delicious nutrition for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack.