Health Benefits of Cinnamon | Is cinnamon good for you?
A favorite household spice, cinnamon has been traded as currency. In fact, the spice was once more valuable than gold and has been valued for its medicinal properties since medieval times.
In the heart of winter, there’s nothing like indulging in a spicy cinnamon dessert. And who doesn’t love walking into a kitchen filled with the warm, inviting scent of this spice?
But in addition to making you feel good on the inside and helping a batch of muffins burst with flavor, the ancient spice is being increasingly studied for a range of potential health benefits. Although we use and love cinnamon, few think about how it can improve well-being and performance.
Here’s why this versatile spice can benefit cyclists and some healthy ways to add cinnamon into your daily meal and dessert rotation.
What are the health benefits of cinnamon?
Not only does cinnamon make many different foods more delicious, it may also provide evidence-based health benefits.
Perhaps the strongest science is tied to cinnamon and improving blood sugar management. A handful of studies, including this one and this one, have shown that higher cinnamon consumption may improve blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. fasting blood sugar levels are more likely to be lowered when they consume more cinnamon, so cinnamon may help diabetics better manage their condition and prevent people with prediabetes – where their blood sugar levels are higher to normal – to develop the disease.
Fewer blood sugar highs and lows could improve your energy levels throughout the day with less brain fog, which may motivate you more to get in the saddle for an intense run, but there’s been little of research on the role that cinnamon may play in blood sugar management in those who are not diabetic or prediabetic.
There is also data that has shown that using cinnamon can improve cholesterol levels, including lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol in people with diabetes. type 2. This would certainly offer some degree of protection against heart disease, but again, we don’t know if this cinnamon-cholesterol link would transfer to people without metabolic problems like diabetes. This meta-analysis of some previous research found that while cinnamon supplementation may improve triglyceride and total cholesterol levels in diabetics and non-diabetics, there is not enough strong evidence to say that cinnamon can improve LDL and HDL levels. It is likely that a cyclist whose cholesterol level is in the healthy range will not reap the main benefits of cinnamon in this case.
However, there is some definitive research on cinnamon that may specifically benefit cyclists. Cinnamon contains several bioactive compounds, including antioxidants such as phenolics and cinnamaldehyde (the substance that gives the spice its characteristic flavor and aroma). These compounds are likely responsible for the beneficial metabolic effects.
Cinnamaldehyde may improve insulin sensitivity, which would help with blood sugar management by moving more sugar out of the blood and into the tissues. This could benefit cyclists, because the more the muscles absorb glucose from the blood, the more it can be burned as fuel.
Antioxidants can have powerful anti-inflammatory properties by scavenging cell-damaging free radicals, which can reduce the risk of certain conditions like heart disease. These free-radical scavenging antioxidants that decrease cell damage and inflammation may also help cyclists recover better. In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of over two dozen spices, cinnamon was found to be a favorite.
How much cinnamon should you consume?
The effective dose used in research is usually 1–6 grams, or about 0.5–2 teaspoons of cinnamon per day, which is an easy amount to add to your diet. At these levels, no serious side effects have been reported. But we don’t yet know if different varieties of cinnamon have different health effects at different intake levels.
Since cinnamon can make foods like oatmeal and baked goods sweeter, using it more liberally can help you reduce the amount of added sugars you need to add to these foods. A study in the Journal of Food Science found that people considered a low-sugar apple crisp dessert made with additional spices (including cinnamon) to be just as delicious as a sweeter version that lacked the spice.
Although cinnamon seems to have positive effects on our health, these will likely be negated if your primary source of the spice is heavily processed foods like cinnamon rolls and raisin bread. Your best bet is to add it to healthier options like oatmeal and homemade baked goods made with whole-grain flour and less added sugar.
How to add more cinnamon to your diet
It goes without saying that almost any dessert, from cookies and chips to pudding and muffins, can benefit from the inclusion of cinnamon. But you can also use it in your breakfasts (pancakes, oatmeal, etc.), your post-ride smoothies, your homemade energy bars and balls. Or, sprinkle it on any nut butter you spread on toast.
Don’t overlook its potential to add a depth of flavor to savory dishes, like chili and stews, either. You can also sprinkle it on winter squash and sweet potatoes before roasting them. Cinnamon can also be included in a rub mix for chicken, turkey, and steak.
Cinnamon sticks are great for infusing a warm, sweet flavor into drinks, like cider and mulled wine. Any recipe in which you simmer or slow cook the dish for an extended period of time, such as a braised beef stew, also works well with whole cinnamon. When cooking with cinnamon sticks, smash them gently with the back of a knife to release more flavor into the dish. You can even grind a cinnamon stick with your coffee beans.
Store cinnamon (whole or ground) in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. If you have a spice grinder, you can buy whole cinnamon sticks and grind them into a powder to ensure the utmost freshness.
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