Why You Should Incorporate This Exotic Spice Into Your Lifestyle!
Cinnamon has seen its use for several thousands of years as a medicine, as a preservative to embalm the deceased, and of course as a spice to be used in both sweet desserts such as Tiramisu(!), as well as savory dishes like the Mexican beef stu Caldillo.
Aside from its versatile use, cinnamon also provides a host of benefits to your health, as well as boosting some of the fat burning processes in your body.
I will also cover how cinnamon is very useful and compatible with keto, by enhancing the fat obliterating processes that keto itself already provides.
And I will of course cover the various other benefits that cinnamon will provide for your health, stay tuned!
The Origins And Production Of Cinnamon
The first recorded use of this dried exotic spice dates back to over 2500 years B.C. in Sri Lanka where its main purpose was to be used as a conservation method to preserve the bodies of the deceased.
The versatile spice originates from the bark of the cinnamon. To create cinnamon – the bark is removed from the cinnamomum zaylanicum tree, which is commonly found in exotic climates.
The bark is then dried, which causes the layer bark to curl up, and the color to turn to the golden-brown we know cinnamon for. It can then either be pulverized, or used as whole cinnamon sticks.
While cinnamon is often branded as being one single spice – There are actually two types of cinnamon you can get your hands on. Cassia-, and Ceylon.
But which one should you buy? While both are healthy, one of them contains a substance that may be toxic when consumed in high quantities.
Do they provide the same benefits for your health? And how much of this popular exotic goody can you use per day?
Cinnamon And Health Benefits
Aside from its inviting flavor and wide implementation in various kinds of foods, cinnamon is very useful to contribute to your health and (keto) weight loss journey.
- Fights fungi and bacteria – Cinnamon contains the substance known as ‘cinnamaldehyde‘ which is the main component of which cinnamon consists of. Research suggests that incorporating cinnamon into your diet contribute in fighting the growth of bacterial infections like the infamous E. Coli bacteria, as well as Salmonella.
- Cinnamon aids in combating cardiovascular disease – Ever since it’s original use thousands of years ago in China it has been used to combat heart disease. While this medical issue was not as common back then – when it did occur the Chinese used it to combat heart disease. So how does cinnamon play a part in this? Cinnamon maintains a proper balance between your cholesterol levels by increasing your healthy HDL cholesterol, and lowering the bad LDL cholesterol.
- Cinnamon provides powerful antioxidants – Antioxidants are responsible for eliminating free radicals that circulate in your body. Cinnamon has an overflowing amount of antioxidants, the most occurring antioxidant in cinnamon is Polyfenol which actively contributes to fighting inflammation in the body, as well aiding in preventing cancer cells from growing.
- Improves insulin sensitivity – Yep, we’re talking about the hormone Insulin again. As you may know from my previous post ‘What is the keto diet about‘ in which I cover all the information about insulin in great detail, and why it is best to avoid the production of this hormone if you are trying to drop your body fat percentage. Cinnamon aids in improving your insulin sensitivity, which results in lower blood sugar levels – keeping you in a fat burning state.
- Cinnamon helps to counteract neurodegenerative diseases – A fancy term for the notorious diseases Alzheimer and Parkinson. Cinnamon prevents the excessive build up of a protein in your brain called ‘Tau’ which is responsible for causing these neurodegenerative diseases.
- Improved blood circulation – Cinnamon improves your blood circulation which indirectly results in a faster metabolism. Another reason cinnamon will help to keep your waistline slim! A faster metabolism will result in more calories burned during the day.
- Gives you a feeling of satiety – Another excellent addition that cinnamon will provide for your overall health is that it induces a feeling of satiety because of it high fiber content. This will keep you full for longer, resulting in a lower calorie consumption!
- Anti-inflammatory – Everyone suffers from a nasty cold from time to time. The antioxidants that cinnamon has contain anti-inflammatory effects that will fight this. By implementing cinnamon on a regular basis in your diet – you not only contribute to preventing any cold or flu in the first place, but you can also use it as a cure to contribute to your faster recovery!
- Prevents bad breath – By eliminating the bacteria in your mouth that are responsible for a bad odor, cinnamon contributes to a fresh breath. By adding a bit a cinnamon to lukewarm water you can even create your own natural mouthwash!
- Aids in preventing bladder infection – The anti-inflammatory substances that are present in cinnamon will make short terms with your bladder infection. Cinnamon can contribute to both preventing, as well as curing your bladder infection. These effects have especially been found noticeable when pairing cinnamon with honey. However, as an advocate for the ketogenic diet I do not recommend you to consume honey on keto due to its high sugar content which will remove you from the fat burning metabolic state of ketosis.
- Helps in keeping your cells youthful – The etherical oils that are present in cinnamon aid in your youthful look by eliminating old cells, as well as slowing down the aging process of your cells.
- Rich in micronutrients – Also known as minerals. Cinnamon is rich in magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium, manganese, as well as vitamin A, B1, B2 & C.
- Supports relaxation and focus – This benefit is likely attributed to the mineral magnesium, cinnamon will help you relax. Mix half a tea spoon through a cup of chamomile tea to create a natural sleep/relaxation tonic.
Not All Cinnamon Is Created Equally!
The listing of benefits that your health will gain for the most part apply to either variant of cinnamon. Their main difference is in the taste, the color, the part of the tree from which it is extracted, and the amount you can consume.
The more expensive version of cinnamon that is not known so well.
Ceylon cinnamon is extracted from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum zaylanicum tree, and originates from Sri Lanka, but can also be exported from Madagascar, India or Indonesia. Ceylon cinnamon lends it more brownish color to its lower dosage of cinnamaldehyde with only around 55% of this substance.
It’s flavor leans more towards the sweet side, making it ideal for the implementation in desserts. Due to the very low active amounts coumarin it can be used pretty much as often as you’d like – it will not be toxic for you in any dosage.
While both variants of cinnamon will do your health a favor, the most common form that is found is pre prepared foods and supermarkets is Cassia cinnamon. This variant of cinnamon comes from China.
Due to the high amounts(circa 92%) of the substance called cinnamaldehyde – it has a very outspoken strong flavor that we(myself included!) often find so appealing about cinnamon.
Cassia cinnamon may in fact be toxic when consumed in high quantities because of the higher amounts of coumarine in it. The toxicity will however only occur when it is over-consumed. As long as you don’t exceed an intake of around 5 teaspoons per day you will be fine, and cassia will still be beneficial to your overall health!
Bottom line is that both are incredibly healthy and will offer similar benefits for your health. Just be careful when it comes to your daily cassia cinnamon consumption.
Which cinnamon do you prefer in terms of flavor?
Keto And Intermittent Fasting
Fortunately for those that already utilize the power of Intermittent Fasting to burn fat, and also have a love for cinnamon – I bring good news.
Cinnamon is allowed during your fasting window!
Cinnamon is void of caloric content, and does not let your blood sugar levels rise. On the contrary, cinnamon actively contributes to lowering your blood sugar levels and keeps your insulin levels in check.
In addition to its nonexistent caloric value – cinnamon contains some fiber which may help to kill some food cravings that you may have during your fasts, which will help you to get through your fasting window to burn fat!
Do you feel like cinnamon makes it easier to keep up your fasts when you experience cravings as well?
Cinnamon in particular is one of the best spices you can utilize on the ketogenic diet. This is due to its capacity lo lower and regulate blood sugar levels, as well as positively enhancing your metabolic rate which will result in burning more calories.
This also makes cinnamon very efficient to recover from a cheat meal that has carbohydrate content in it. An especially powerful combination that I have used a couple of times after having had carbohydrates on keto is apple cider vinegar with a teaspoon of added cinnamon.
Since they both actively lower blood sugar levels, it is a highly effective combination, and because they both have no caloric content it can even be used when fasting intermittently – which is highly advisable after for instance derailing from the ketogenic diet with a cheat meal.
As an avid supporter and practitioner of the ketogenic diet – I feel like cinnamon actively aids in keeping me in ketosis, as well as optimizing my metabolism and promote a feeling satiety, which also makes cinnamon a brilliant addition to the ketogenic diet.
Samantha wrote an in-depth article about all the various supplements that are useful to supplement with on the keto diet, among which are cinnamon capsules if you want to profit from the benefits cinnamon provides while on the go, or traveling for instance.
Is Cinnamon Safe To Consume During Pregnancy?
While this has never been confirmed by scientific research – it is often claimed that the effective substance known as coumarin, which is responsible for its well-known bitter-sweet flavor, can potentially be dangerous for your unborn. This substance is present in much higher quantities in the cheaper Cassia cinnamon when compared to Ceylon cinnamon.
It has not been backed by research, but it its better to be safe than sorry – Therefore any type of cinnamon is best avoided during pregnancy.
How I Implement Cinnamon
I like to add cinnamon as an extra flavor to my bulletproof coffee mixture, I’m personally not really a fan of the flavor of Ceylon cinnamon, so I always implement small amounts of cassia cinnamon in my diet. That way I can enjoy my favorite cinnamon, benefit from the good properties and effects of it on my health – while still enjoying the flavor.
Another brilliant way I have found to enjoy the health benefits that cinnamon provides when I’m on the go, or traveling is by taking cinnamon in the form of capsules. I simply love cinnamon not only for its flavor, but also the effect it has on my hunger as well as my blood sugar. It is really noticeable that it remains stable upon consumption as I do not experience any cravings and a more stable mood.
Another way I like to incorporate cinnamon is by adding just a touch to my breakfast; which usually consists of a serving of cottage cheese, with added keto meal replacement shake, an avocado & then of course cinnamon to really add to the cappuccino-like flavor, all while packing the meal with both macro-, as well as micronutrients!
How do you incorporate cinnamon into your diet? Like me, do you prefer the taste of cassia over Ceylon cinnamon?
Let me know in the comment section below!