Super cinnamon superfood - it looks as though that should be its new name. Cinnamon has been used for thousands of years to flavour our food and drinks, to heal the wounded on battlefields and embalm the dead. It's certainly a multitasker.
Cinnamon is the smell of Christmas and a sign of excellent coffee, but what can it do for our health?
For those of us with a sweet tooth, sugar is difficult to resist. Cinnamon can be used to sweeten coffee, cereal, curry, toast, all manner of foods. Anything that lowers our sugar consumption is good thing.
The compound that makes it smell so delicious might prohibit colorectal cancer. In studies mice that were dosed with cinnamaldehyde, a chemical found in cinnamon, were protected from cancer. Human studies are still to come, but it's a good sign.
Research suggests that an extract with 10% cinnamon killed a virus that makes animals and humans sick. It did this within 10 minutes and kept the virus from re-appearing for 24 hours.
Not just the excitement of Father Christmas' imminent arrival, but cinnamon may also boost logical memory. Mice (these mice get a tough time) were dosed with cinnamon, and then tested with mazes and object recognition. The cinnamon-loaded mice did better.
There are potential benefits to type 2 diabetes sufferers. Cinnamon may be an alternative to glucose-lowering medications. It's cheap and easy available. Research continues but the first tests are promising.
Cinnamon may help with period cramps. Tests showed that 80 women taking cinnamon in pill form had fewer symptoms of PMT. Taking 420mgs of cinnamon lessened pain on day one. The group also had less bleeding and nausea. Hurrah!
That cimmamaldehyde may also fight against fungal infections.
Of course! For every up there is a down, for every smile there is - oh you know.
There are different types of cinnamon. The majority of research has used cassia cinnamon. This is the most prevalent in health food stores because it's cheaper than true cinnamon -'cinnamon zeylanicum', otherwise known as 'cinnamon verum', which comes from Sri Lanka.
Cassia cinnamon from Vietnam, Indonesia and China contains coumarin, which taken at high levels can cause liver damage. It's even caused the Danish government to crack down on cinnamon swirls. Honestly. The European Union is strict about the amount of coumarin foods can contain. In Germany the bakers complained because their Christmas treats contained twenty times the recommended dose. They said it was OK because people only ate the treats once a year...
Cassia cinnamon may affect drugs too, such as aspirin, NSAIDS like ibuprofen, and anti-coagulants.
So, cinnamon. There are some pros and some cons to this delicious tree bark. It's certainly one to watch in the future, and may already benefit you now if you are sensible with doses. Don't just wait till Christmas, crack out the cinnamon on your coffee and cereal tomorrow morning. It certainly tastes the part.
Ho, ho, ho. How many shopping days left?