The secret life of cinnamon
It has been in our kitchen cupboards for centuries, spurred spice wars, was the secret kept by Arab merchants to ensure their wealth in the 16th century, was a status symbol to Europeans in the middle ages, was used for embalming by Egyptians, persevered meat in the winter, The Old Testament describes its used in anointing, not to mention to the medicinal properties of this spice with a spicy history! Let’s take a moment to discover the secrets of cinnamon.
Giant birds and terrifying snakes
Arab traders, who controlled the cinnamon trade in the middle ages, spun elaborate (and totally false) tales of why cinnamon was such a rarity and therefore a precious luxury that was ridiculously priced. They said giant ferocious birds wove their nests with cinnamon atop the highest mountains and that only the bravest merchants could lure the bird with meat to get the cinnamon. Another legend spoke of enourmous terrifying snakes, who guarded the entrance to the only cave that cinnamon could be found, deep in Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka). Tall tales, but the West lapped it up and couldn’t get enough!
The Portuguese eventually got control of the cinnamon trade, but were quickly overthrown by the Dutch (VOC), who seized control of the spice trade by early 1600 and managed to keep it from both England and France. Those were some very heated spice wars.
Real spice, real medicine
Despite the bloody stories surrounding its origin, cinnamon is a bonafide medicine. It’s been used since the time of Ancient Egypt, over 4000 years ago, for embalming processes, as incense and healing oils, because of it’s antibacterial properties. Over the centuries it’s been used in Asian herbal medicine to treat gastronomical problems and in the west as a ‘stimulant tonic’ to cure indigestion and mild spasms.
Antioxidants everyday, keep the doctor away
Cinnamon has the highest levels of antioxidants of any household herb or spice, according to a recent study. As little as ½ a teaspoon daily can have positive effects on immunity, digestion and blood sugar levels. Having lots of antioxidants in the blood help protect the body against disease and are similar to the antioxidants found in ‘superfoods’ like berries, red wine and dark chocolate.
Finally, a reason to unashamedly enjoy cinnamon flavored dark chocolate!
A diet rich in spices, like cinnamon and turmeric, help reduce the negative effects in the stomach after eating a fatty meal, it slows stomach emptying which curbs blood sugar levels rising and. High levels of fat in your blood- triglycerides can lead to heart disease, but thankfully ingesting cinnamon boosts levels of antioxidants in the blood, which lowers triglceride levels for a happier healthier heart. Hooray!
A little cinnamon can help cognitive processing; a lot of cinnamon can actually improve brain function! A cool gum-chewing study conducted at Wheeling Jesuit University proved that volunteers who chewed cinnamon flavored gum whilst completing computer-based tasks did far better than when chewing jasmine or peppermint flavored gum, had better attention scores and faster visual-motor skills. Good to know what to eat before important meetings and big days- cinnamon tea, cinnamon rolls and a few sticks of cinnamon gum!
Because of its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and the fact it’s a natural inflammatory, cinnamon helps protect the skin from irritations, rashes, allergic reactions and infections.
“It helps clear up mucus and encourages circulation”, states the director of Ayurveda For Modern Living, Denise Baron. Cinnamon’s healing properties can help with a lot, from a little common cough to full blown bronchitis.
I’m sweet enough!
We can all agree that cinnamon tastes awesome- sweet and spicy, fragrant and flavorful. It’s a great way to sweet recipes without adding sugar, so it can lower the glycemic load of what you’re eating. Have a sweet tooth when it comes to coffee and cakes? No problem! Try swapping in cinnamon as a healthier alternative. A diet with less sugar in it, will in turn manage your sweet cravings and energy levels.
At TrueStory we love the spicy kick and healing properties of cinnamon. You can find it in some of our cold-pressed creations: California Dreaming cashew nut milk and Oh My Nuts! almond milk. You can also find cinnamon in our seasonal Golden- and Matcha Milk’s that are available exclusively at the Juice Bar.
The secret’s out, cinnamon!