You Are What You Eat: Cinnamon Divine

You Are What You Eat: Cinnamon Divine

Every time I walk into my local grocery store, scents of cinnamon drift my way, compliments of spiced-up holiday decorations strategically located just inside the sliding doors. On most school-day mornings, I make my boys slices of cinnamon toast. They always ask for more. And when I buy my favorite Yankee candles, I always grab the cinnamon varieties. I burn them whenever I'm home. I especially love them at Christmas time.

You Are What You Eat: Cinnamon Divine

Think warm mugs of apple cider sprinkled with cinnamon, baked apples with crushed nuts and cinnamon on a cold winter day, or a cool glass of spiced tea on a hot summer afternoon and you're likely to conjure up visions of a Super Spice that's good for all seasons. Not only is cinnamon good, though. It's also quite healthy.

Cinnamon, derived from the interior bark of evergreen trees native to Asia, is one of the oldest spices known, used in traditional medicine and studied for its beneficial effects on a variety of ailments, particularly type II diabetes. In fact, the USDA has determined that half a teaspoon per day lowers blood-sugar levels in patients and also lowers bad cholesterol.

Cinnamon is also an effective agent in fighting E.coli, offers a "brain boost" via its smell, and even has anti-bacterial qualities. Also helpful in preventing unwanted clumping of blood platelets and powerful as an antioxidant, cinnamon is a good source of fiber, iron, and calcium. Available in a dried tubular form (known as quill) or as ground powder, cinnamon comes in two basic varieties: Chinese or Ceylon. Both have similar flavors, but the Ceylon type is slightly sweeter, more refined, and more difficult to find in local markets. The cinnamon we most commonly see in our supermarkets is Chinese cinnamon, or cassia cinnamon.

It doesn't take a complicated recipe to incorporate cinnamon into your diet. Per one teaspoon, this five-calorie, no-fat treat can be used in a variety of ways. Sprinkle cinnamon in with coffee grounds before brewing or mix cinnamon with hot cereals. Slice apples, put them in a plastic bag, and add one tablespoon cinnamon -- then shake, and taste the sweetness. Add cinnamon to chicken noodle soup for flavor and an instant cold remedy and for diarrhea, mix one to three teaspoons cinnamon into one cup hot water and steep for 10 to 15 minutes -- then strain & drink. For another 21 cinnamon uses, click here.

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