Cinnamon – Trivia of Spice

Origin: imported from China to Egypt already in the year 2000 a. C., cinnamon was offered as a prestigious offering to monarchs. It even appears with a positive and symbolic meaning in the NY Times Best Seller of All Time, The Bible, in the books of Exodus and Proverbs.

Plant: A small evergreen tree with oblong leaves and small green flowers with an unpleasant odor. Inside the small purple berry of the tree is a single seed. Cinnamon is harvested by cultivating the tree for two years and then cutting it down to grow shoots from the tree’s roots for the next year. The shoots are then peeled and dried. After natural drying, the outer part is removed and only a minimally thin inner rind is used. Finally, the thin crust is layered with other pieces and once again allowed to dry into the recognizable curly strips. This end result, known as the feather, is cut into pieces the size of a spice jar. The oil, also widely used, is prepared by crushing the bark, immersing it in seawater and then distilling it.

Quality: The best cinnamon comes naturally from Sri Lanka, as well as commercially grown farms in Brazil, Madagascar, Sumatra, West Indies, Vietnam, and more. It has a very thin, smooth, light yellowish-brown rind. Its fragrant smell is particularly sweet, warm and gives a very pleasant flavor, the result of the concentration of its cinnamon oil.

Benefits: The US Department of Agriculture found in studies that daily use of half a teaspoon of cinnamon lowered many dangerous blood-related levels, including blood sugar in diabetics (especially type 2), cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The same result is achieved by adding cinnamon to tea. The notion that ingesting cinnamon can lower blood pressure and whether excessive amounts of the fat-soluble components of cinnamon are safe from toxicity will be further investigated.

Cinnamon oil also has its benefits: it increases brain function. Research by the Association for Chemoreception Sciences found that cinnamon oil products improved cognitive processing in research participants, especially on computer-based tasks such as attention processes, virtual recognition, working memory, and visuomotor speed.

Blurb: When cinnamon is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is desserts like the cinnamon roll. However, in all its uses, cinnamon does more than just make your food taste good. It also qualifies as an “antimicrobial” food, stopping the growth of bacteria and fungi such as yeast (Candida). In laboratory tests, cinnamon extracts often stopped the growth of yeast with resistance to antifungal drugs. With this data, cinnamon even proves its worth as a natural food preservative… but really, to us, it just tastes and smells great!

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