About Cinnamon Sticks
About Cinnamon Sticks
About Cinnamon Sticks
Cinnamon is from the cinnamomun family, derived from a common tree called the cassia. It is the dried bark most commonly found in this laurel tree. The bark may be grounded to serve as a spice for cooking and baking; or it may be chopped into little cinnamon sticks which are then rolled into a tube called a quill and then left to dry.
Cinnamon is very common in Sri Lanka, but the cassia tree where cinnamon sticks are from also grows in North and Central America (Brazil), China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Properties of Cinnamon
Cinnamon contains a sweet but strong fragrance and has a unique ability to heal and comfort many illnesses. It contains a few essential oils like cinnamyl acetate, cinnamyl alchohol and cinnamaldehyde.
Cinnamon has two different kinds of variety:
- Cinnamomun zeylanicum or Ceylon cinnamon; often regarded as the true cinnamon
- Cinnamomun aromaticum, which is a Chinese variety, more commonly called as “cassia”
Ceylon cinnamon is more refined than its Chinese counterpart. It is also a rare expensive kind which is often quite hard to obtain; particularly in North America, where one can only find this in specialty shops and ethnic markets.
Compared to its powdered form, cinnamon sticks have a stronger flavor, often indicative of its freshness. Storing the stick form is a lot easier than the powdered form as they may just be kept inside a tightly sealed container, in a dry and cool place. The powdered form will normally last for at least six months, while cinnamon sticks will last for more than a year. Cinnamon’s shelf life may be extended a lot longer if they are stored in the refrigerator or a cooler.
Cinnamons are not known to have giotrogens or purines that cause allergies.
History of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is the oldest spice known in civilization. Since the ancient times, China was already importing cinnamon from Egypt sometime in the year 2000 BC. The Bible even mentions it in one of the chapters; and the spice was used, not just for food enhancements, but for medicinal purposes, as well as an embalming agent.
The ancient people believed that the spice was a sacred item. Cinnamon was such an important commodity before, that it was even worth more than gold. In the 15th and 16th century, which was at the time of the exploration of Medieval Europeans, one of their main goals was to find this spice and bring this back home to Europe. Thus, cinnamon became one of the first few commodities regularly traded between the East and the West.
Today, cinnamon is used in the very same way our ancestors used them during their time, albeit with a little more variety.
Uses of Cinnamon
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- Confectionary and Food Flavor Enhancer
Cinnamon is most commonly used as a baking ingredient, a flavor enhancer or a cooking spice, in many parts of the world. It is an important ingredient for baking cookies, cakes and other desserts and sweets (including chocolates). It is also used for dishes with chicken or lamb, especially in many Middle Eastern cuisines. Americans especially love to combine cinnamon with their apples and also use this for many of their cereal varieties and hot beverages. For the Westerners, it is particularly soothing to be drinking hot coffee or chocolate, with a dash of cinnamon on many cold, winter nights.
- Medicinal Benefits
Anti-Clotting and Anti-Inflammatory Actions:
Researches have proven that cinnamon has a positive effect on blood platelets, in that it prevents blood from clumping and clotting. These clots may cause heart attack or stroke, so it is potentially dangerous. Daily intake of cinnamon helps prevent this. Aside from that, cinnamon’s healing components (cinnamaldehyde) also has the ability to inhibit the distribution of an arachidonic acid which has an inflammatory effect in the body.
Cinnamon contains essential oils that prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria, most common of which is Candida, very infectious yeast. Its antimicrobial components are so effective that it is suggested cinnamon be used as an alternative to food preservatives, as well as a flavoring ingredient.
- Blood Sugar Control and Anti-Oxidant
Those struggling with diabetes (type 2) may benefit from cinnamon (taken daily, half a teaspoon full) as this helps improve their body’s response to insulin, and aids to normalize blood sugar levels. What’s more, it may also help in the reduction of bad cholesterol, which could also be dangerous for people afflicted with the lifelong disease.
A recent animal testing has shown the good effect cinnamon components have over insulin activity. In this test, controlled rats were given a regular doze of about 300 mg cinnamon (calculated based on their body weight) for a period of three weeks. This then demonstrated that their bodies absorb more sugar, indicating that cinnamon enhances the muscles to signal insulin activity and prevent resistance; thereby aiding in normalizing blood sugar levels and reducing the risk factors associated with a diabetic attack.
As an anti-oxidant, cinnamon is much more effective than ginger or licorice. In addition, cinnamon contains a good source of dietary fiber, calcium and iron, that helps prevent many major conditions like colon cancer, antherosclerosis or heart attack. For those suffering from irregular and irritable bowel movement, cinnamon also provides relief from diarrhea and constipation. Its main components do help clean the body from impurities.
- Boosts Brain Function
Cinnamon does not only help improve ones bodily functions, its sweet odor, believe it or not, gives the brains cells its needed boost! Hence students or even office workers are encouraged to chew or eat cinnamon flavored gum and candies, especially during hours when they feel that body is already tired and overworked. Cinnamon’s active components actually aid in the cognitive processing of the brain, which then improves ones ability to pay attention or to remember things.
- Relief for Cold and Flu
Lastly, cinnamon’s essential oils and its natural healing powers are traditionally used by the Chinese even in the ancient times. The Chinese would often mix this with tea and fresh ginger and serves as a natural medicine to relieve minor headache, or even colds and flu.