Posted Sept 21, 2006
Cathy Woolridge, St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.
CINNAMON — it’s not just a tasty ingredient in those heavenly breakfast rolls. The sweet little spice also may pack a healthy punch for your body.
Studies conducted by the Nutrient Requirements and Functions Laboratory of the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center found a small amount of cinnamon may help with a variety of medical conditions.
According to Dr. Richard A. Anderson of the NRFL, cinnamon has been shown to help those with type 2 Diabetes. About half of a teaspoon of cinnamon, Anderson notes in his research that this appears to lead to improvements in blood sugar, cholesterol LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides.
“Some studies indicate that it may be beneficial,” says Krystal Staggs, registered dietitian with Heartland Health. “More research is needed before we give a specific amount that is beneficial.”
The spice also is purported to help with a host of other aliments, including improving digestion, congestion relief, menstrual cramp relief, relief from traveler’s diarrhea, colds, better circulation, relief from arthritis pain and prevention of urinary tract infections.
Even Hippocrates is said to have used cinnamon in some of the 300 medicinal remedies he created.
“It’s interesting,” says Jim Fly, owner of A-Z’s Freshair Fare Natural Market Inc., that some spices, like cinnamon, have culinary, as well as medicinal uses.”
But, before you decide to worship at the altar of the frosted cinnamon roll, take heed.
Although cinnamon is most commonly known as a spice added to baked goods, whatever benefits it may posses can get smothered in a frosting of sugar and calories.
“The cinnamon roll would not be a good choice,” Ms. Staggs says.
But you knew that already.
Ms. Staggs says that cinnamon is low in calories and that “you can place it in a lot of different recipes.”
Both she and Mr. Fly say cinnamon can be added to tea. It also can be put in coffee and hot chocolate, sprinkled on cereal and added to sauces and soups, rice, poultry and meat recipes. The NRFL research also says that cinnamon can be added to orange juice and salads. Ms. Staggs says that if you are a cinnamon fan, you can experiment by adding the spice to just about any food you like.
“I really think cinnamon toast would be easy,” Mr. Fly says.
And if you’re not sweet on cinnamon, you also can get the spice in pill form, says Catherine Jones, owner of Catherine’s Basic Essentials in King City, Mo.
“You have it in an encapsulated form,” she says. “They’ve taken it at the freshest form and captured the essence of the cinnamon.”
Brands and dosage will vary from product to product, but the capsulated form of cinnamon is available in most health food stores.
Ms. Staggs says, and a lot of the research recommends, that those who wish to take cinnamon in the supplement form should consult their doctor before doing so.
“My advice,” Ms. Staggs says, “is to use it naturally.”
And since a little bit of cinnamon adds flavor to a variety of foods, why not add a spice to your menu?
“It has a wonderful smell,” Mr. Fly says, “It tastes sweet without being sweet.”