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. 




Turmeric Part II

For centuries, eating seasonally was a natural way of life and this has, naturally, come back around as the latest wellness trend. The perfectly sensible idea is that our bodies and physiology, which are in synch with the current environment, evolved to best handle and metabolize what the season nurtures. That said, there is something refreshing and invigorating about a burst of summer in the heart of cold, dreary winter, especially when it's sunshine gold in color and so good for you. Picking up from our last post then, we bring you two, ultra easy, ultra tasty, ultra good-for-you sunny recipes incorporating turmeric, perfect for babies, toddlers and the family table. 

We're off to Vietnam for a family holiday where it thankfully won't be cold and dreary. We'll break from our turmeric series next week and share some notes from our adventure. Regardless of whether your Christmas will be spent in a warm, sunny locale or a cold, white, wintry one, don't forget to bask in your ever present, inner sunshine this holiday season!

With Love & Spice xx

RECIPES

TURMERIC SUNSHINE SMOOTHIE
6 months+, Toddler, Kid, Adult
(or once you've introduced yoghurt to your baby)

Nutrition
As discussed in a previous post here, mangoes are brimming with carotenids like alpha and beta-carotene, which are precursors to Vitamin A production in the body and potent anti-cancer agents due to their antioxidant, free radical scavenging activities. Vitamin A is especially important for eye development in children - being fat soluble like turmeric, it is well absorbed in this greek yoghurt smoothie. Mangoes also offer a boatload of Vitamin C and some B vitamins, particularly folate - if you're pregnant and looking for sources of folic acid, you can devour this with your kids. Together with calcium, protein and probiotics from yoghurt, the range of health benefits from turmeric, the pro-digestive and anti-viral power of ginger, this superfood, power smoothie is a treat you can most certainly feel good about. 

Yield
2 8oz servings

Ingredients
1 cup plain Greek yoghurt
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen mango
1 banana chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen peach (about one medium peach)
1/2 - 1 inch turmeric root grated (with gloves on!)
1 tablespoon honey (not appropriate for under 12 months)
1/4 - 1/2 inch piece ginger grated (optional)

Method
Mix all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Enjoy as a healthy and yummy breakfast or snack. Feel free to make extras and freeze for divine popsicles!

Turmeric Scrambled Eggs
12 months+, Toddler, Kid, Adult

Nutrition
Eggs contain choline which is important for brain and memory development. At only 75 calories, an egg has 6 grams of high quality, complete protein as well as iron, vitamins, minerals and carontenoids that are vital for eye development and vision. The egg is therefore a tiny nutritional powerhouse. But what about all that cholesterol? While it's true that eggs do contain a solid helping of cholesterol, experts agree that it's not cholesterol in food but saturated and trans fats that causes blood cholesterol to be elevated as explained here. So go ahead and enjoy those nutrient-dense eggs. They are especially handy for picky eaters and for a quick, last minute, i'm-too-lazy-to-cook lunch or dinner. 

Yield
1 adult and 1 toddler serving

Ingredients
5 eggs
1 3/4 tablespoon cream
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons butter
1-2 pinches turmeric
Chives (optional)

Method
Heat a small saucepan on medium heat and add the butter. While the butter melts, crack the eggs into a bowl, add the cream, salt and pepper and beat well ensuring the yolks are well integrated into the mixture. Add the turmeric to the melted butter and stir the pan for a minute allowing the turmeric to open up. Reduce the heat to very low and add the eggs, stirring as often as possible, at least every 30 seconds. The mixture will eventually become custard-like and creamy. Once the eggs are cooked to your liking (about 15 minutes on very low flame), transfer them to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the chopped chives. These will be the creamiest, most delicious scrambled eggs ever, well worth the elbow grease and patience! Serve with toast and fruit for a five star, healthy breakfast at home. My toddler cannot get enough.



ANCIENT WISDOM

Anti-inflammatory
Antimicrobial
Antioxidant
Digestive Health
Liver & Gall Bladder Health

RECIPES

Turmeric Sunshine
Smoothie
6 months+, Toddler,
Kid, Adult

 

Turmeric Scrambled
Eggs
12months+,
Toddler, Kid,
Adult