Cinnamon (spice): useful properties and contraindications
Cinnamon is an essential spice. It is harvested from a Ceylon cinnamon tree, an evergreen in the laurel family. The tree reaches a height of 6-12 meters. It grows only in tropical areas and is cultivated on moist soil.
- Types of cinnamon
- How to distinguish real cinnamon from cassia
- How much cinnamon can be eaten per day
- Composition and Calories
- Useful properties of cinnamon
- For Women
- For Men
- If Pregnant
- For Children
- What is cinnamon useful for weight loss?
- Cinnamon in medicine
- For Gastritis
- For Intestines
- For constipation
- For gout
- For Liver
- Cinnamon in cosmetology
- Cinnamon Hair Masks
- Face Masks
- Essential Oil of Cinnamon: Properties and Application
- The benefits and harms of cinnamon tea and coffee
- Cinnamon with Honey: Benefits and Harm
- Cinnamon in Cooking
- Harm and contraindications
- Symptoms of cinnamon allergy
- How to choose and store the cinnamon
- How to Grind Cinnamon Sticks
- Interesting facts about cinnamon
Types of cinnamon
Types of it are very diverse, and each cinnamon has its own characteristics:
- Ceylon cinnamon. It is a tube, which is very easy to break, as it is only up to 1 mm thick. But the best cinnamon is the one that is no thicker than writing paper. The color of the top may be brown - very light or with a yellow hue. It has a strong aroma and a sweet-smelling flavor. It is cultivated mainly in Sri Lanka, India, but also in Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia. It is the best kind.
- Malabar. Characterized by a rough appearance with thick walls - more than 3 mm, the color is dark brown, irregularly colored. Taste - with bitterness and astringent properties. This species is native to southwestern India.
- Cinnamon. Represents thin pieces of bark from 1 to 2 cm. The outer part has a very light beige color, the inner part is yellow-red. The aroma has a specific - spicy, flavor - spicy-burning. It comes from the Moluccas Islands.
- Chinese. Its appearance is a fragment of bark with a thickness of more than 2 mm. The external color of the bark is reddish-brown, visible gray-brown flecks. The taste is pungent and pungent, tart and astringent, sweetish. Cultivated in plantations in China, Laos, Cambodia.
How to distinguish the real cinnamon from cassia
First of all, in order not to make a mistake in choosing a natural, high-quality cinnamon, you should pay attention to the aroma. Cassia has a coarse scent, but it is sweeter and less saturated. A true spice has a refined noble aroma, softer, with notes of warmth and a pleasant sweetness.
If the product is presented in the form of sticks, it is also possible to determine the variety by its color:
- Real cinnamon is characterized by an even color. It is usually presented in light brown sticks. Cassia, on the other hand, is reddish brown or grayish brown on both the outside and the inside.
- The best variety has a closed surface at both ends, with the ends specially twisted into a lamb's horn. Cassia is either just slightly curved or just plain and open.
- You can verify the quality by looking at the cut of the stick. The highest cinnamon has the thinnest structure, as thick as a sheet of paper. A strong pressure can easily break the fragile base, which is why this cinnamon is easily crushed. Cassia is difficult to break, because it is coarser and thicker. When it is crushed, it does not crumble but breaks into fibers, its sticks are hollow inside.
If you want to know what kind of spice it is, you will find on the label the information about the country of origin. If you must have a high-quality spice, then you should buy the product made in Ceylon. If you want a spice from China, Vietnam or Indonesia, then you must buy it from Ceylon. If it is written on the product that it is Germany, Israel or another country where it is not possible to grow Ceylon cinnamon, it is better to avoid buying this spice, because there is no cinnamon production there, and the sale of Ceylon bark is not organized there. The price will also indicate the quality. Real cinnamon is more expensive.
The quality can also be determined with iodine. Cassia will react to iodine with a dark blue color, while high-quality cinnamon will turn a bluish color.
Important! Chinese cinnamon, otherwise known as cassia, has an increased amount of coumarin, and for humans this substance in high doses is toxic.
How much cinnamon can be eaten per day
Doctors advise consuming no more than one teaspoon per kilogram or liter of food in various dishes. The coumarin in Ceylon cinnamon contains a small amount of 0.02 g/kg. Cassia has much more - 2 g/kg.
Composition and calories
The caloric value of the spice is 247 kcal. One stick contains approximately 10 kcal. The composition contains many useful components, so that cinnamon is not only of interest to cooks around the world, but also has many medicinal properties. It contains:
- Vitamin A supports the immune system, gets rid of keratinization of the skin, improves vision and promotes faster healing of wounds and makes the skin healthy.
- Vitamin C is responsible for raising the immune system, helps the respiratory tract, increases the strength of capillaries, synthesizes collagen, relieves irritation, fatigue and drowsiness.
- Vitamin B group helps quickly absorb fats and proteins, the food that enters the stomach, is responsible for cellular respiration, helps the formation of red blood cells, relieves anxiety.
- E is an antioxidant vitamin that is needed as a preventive measure for tumors and vascular disease.
- Vitamin K has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system, is involved in blood clotting processes, increases intestinal peristalsis, supports liver and heart function.
- PP helps the body better absorb protein, normalizes gastric secretion, relieves pain in the stomach, prevents the development of diarrhea.
Macronutrients and trace elements
- Magnesium. It is an important component of enzymatic activity, has soothing properties, helps the body assimilate calcium and phosphorus.
- Potassium. Promotes excretion of fluids from the body, helps to convert glucose into glycogen, regulates the rhythm of the heart.
- Calcium. Has an anti-stress effect, removes heavy metals, and has anti-allergic properties.
- Sodium. Supports blood osmotic pressure.
- Iron. Basic element of hemoglobin, is part of many enzymes.
- Copper. Participates in hematopoiesis, protects the joints, indispensable participant in many metabolic processes.
- Phosphorus. Converts incoming food into energy. Helps ease the absorption of vitamins and maintains a balance of magnesium and calcium.
- Zinc. Thanks to it normal respiration of tissues is restored, hemoglobin and erythrocytes are regenerated. It plays an important role in the functions of the prostate gland.
- Manganese. Beneficial effects on the musculoskeletal system and sexual function, restores lipid and carbohydrate metabolism.
- Selenium. Is a preventive agent against cancer, stimulates the formation of antibodies.
Also includes polyphenol, coumarin, tannins, essential oils.
Useful properties of cinnamon
Promotes the menstrual cycle, relieves pain, helps return elasticity to the skin, remove swelling, cope with the appearance of cellulite, relieves inflammation, removes excess weight. Women during menopause lose the ability to maintain enough calcium, and cinnamon can make up for this deficiency.
The aroma of the cinnamon tree has a beneficial effect on the male libido, increases male potential and enhances libido. Cinnamon relieves tension caused by anxiety and nervousness, as well as sexual tension. If you use the spice in drinks or in food, the tonic effect on the genitals will soon have an effect. The presence of selenium in cinnamon is useful for men who are sexually active, because this trace element is almost half contained in the testicular seminal tubules, and it is lost with the ejaculate.
In pregnancy, this spice is prohibited due to the fact that it can provoke the contraction of the uterus.
During breastfeeding, if you do not exceed the daily rate, you can use cinnamon as a preventive measure to maintain the weakened body during this period. It will help to cope with viral infections, strengthen the immune system thanks to its antiseptic effect. Tea with cinnamon will help maintain weight and get rid of accumulated extra pounds. To strengthen lactation, use a product that includes milk, cinnamon, chopped walnuts and sugar.
But, in order not to harm the infant, introduce such a product into the diet very carefully and only after the baby is 4 months old. It is recommended to add the spice to tea or kefir before the morning feeding, and then watch the reaction of the baby. If negative changes appear, for example, the baby will become more restless, allergic effects will appear, problems related to the gastrointestinal tract will begin, the cinnamon will have to give up for now.
Until the child is three years old, doctors do not recommend including cinnamon in the diet, but for the older age group it is useful, primarily because its composition strengthens the immune system, supports the normal growth of the bones and skeleton. But hyperactive children are better not to include this spice in the diet. Many recipes for baby food contain cinnamon for flavor and aroma. The main thing is to make sure that this new product in the diet does not cause an allergic reaction, although cinnamon does not belong to the allergenic products.
What is the usefulness of cinnamon for weight loss
Some created recipes allow you to lose up to 3-4 pounds per week, because they are low-calorie, with soothing properties.
How to drink cinnamon for weight loss
Thanks to this recipe, you can lose weight without dieting, strengthen the immune system and restore the nervous system: a teaspoon of green tea is brewed for 100 g of water. Separately, a pinch of freshly ground cinnamon is added to 100 grams of heated milk with little fat. Then the ingredients are mixed. It is recommended to drink a few hours before going to bed, and be sure that the drink should be warm.
- Consuming the spice together with kefir, you can achieve excellent results if you decide to lose extra pounds. For a glass of fermented milk product, half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon without the top is added. Not only during a diet, this recipe is used, but also when unloading days are necessary.
- Dried apples or medicinal plants that do not cause side effects are used for the drink to help lose weight. Make tea and add to it a separately brewed mixture consisting of dried apples, cinnamon and herbs. Three cups of 200 g per day should be drunk.
Cinnamon in medicine
Cinnamon, like many other spices, is very good in the treatment of certain diseases. But it is still necessary to consult a doctor, who will tell you in what doses cinnamon will benefit.
In diabetes mellitus
If you have type II diabetes, you can include cinnamon in your diet, because the polyphenols and flavonoids it contains have a positive effect on health. Glucose levels are reduced, as well as cholesterol by lowering the levels of low-density lipoproteins, but there is an increase in those with high density. Due to the presence of coumarin, blood thinners, and as we know, many patients have a number of problems caused by blood viscosity, which greatly increases the risk of thrombosis.
Important: The glycemic index of cinnamon is very low - 5 units.
Studies have shown that this spice promotes the work of pancreatic enzymes, resulting in normalization of the work of the stomach and pancreas. Stabilization of glucose levels is also noted, which means that sugar absorption will be normal, which is beneficial for the pancreas. But still the use of this flavorful powder should be reduced, and if the disease is exacerbated, it should be completely excluded from the diet.
The use of cinnamon in this disease depends on its stage and the level of acidity. If an exacerbation began, it is better to give up the spice, but in a stable remission, it can serve as an auxiliary treatment. To reduce the level of acidity, you will need to drink boiled water with the addition of cinnamon before meals, 3 times a day. It is better to discuss the dose with your doctor. Cinnamon added to honey helps wounds heal more quickly and reduce inflammation.
For the intestines
Cinnamon has a medicinal effect on a variety of digestive tract functions, regulating intestinal muscle tone, with anti-inflammatory properties. It helps mucus production and protects the intestinal walls. But too high intestinal sensitivity indicates that it is better to reduce the consumption of cinnamon.
In constipation, cinnamon powder has a stimulating and antiseptic effect, because it improves digestion and increases appetite, is an effective herbal laxative, restores intestinal tone.
Only a balanced diet and treatment delays the development of this disease. In the diet must also be present spices, which include cinnamon and vanilla, bay leaf and others.
For the liver
Cinnamon is essential for the liver as a cleansing product. But there are also significant contraindications because of the presence of coumarin.
We must take into account: because the spice is a natural antibiotic, it may affect the properties of some therapeutic drugs.
Cinnamon in Cosmetology
The useful properties of cinnamon decided to take advantage of women, coming up with many good recipes.
Cinnamon hair masks
Such treatments are important for the hair, giving it shine and elasticity.
- One of the best is considered the following recipe: two spoonfuls of honey, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and one spoonful of oil, preferably olive oil (if your hair is long, the dose should be increased) mixed and applied, massaging, to the hair. Cover with a film and wrap your head with a warm scarf. In an hour rinse with warm water.
- To accelerate hair growth, you can use cinnamon oil mixed with white clay, mustard powder, 1 tsp. sugar. Such a composition is rubbed into the hair roots and lasts no more than 1 hour.
- To cleanse the face, return it to freshness, it is necessary to prepare mineral water or nonfat yogurt/smethane - 1.5 tsp, add a teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix all the components, apply the mush to the face. Leave it on for 3 minutes only and wash it off. It is desirable to perform this procedure in the evening, as a slight redness of the skin is possible.
- If your skin needs to lighten or you need to get rid of pigmentation, use this treatment: grind one third of a banana to a pulp, add half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon. Apply the mixture to a clean face. After 5 minutes, rinse off.
Cinnamon essential oil: properties and uses
Due to the presence of essential oil, the plant has acquired such a typical smell. This oil is obtained in the usual way, using the distillation method. The bark of young shoots is used as a raw material. The result is an oil with a strong odor, and in its undiluted form it has such aggressive qualities that it can burn unprotected skin or cause severe irritation. It is considered one of the most dangerous allergens among esters, so the oil is not used as often as others. It is usually diluted by adding 5 times more other oils.
But even in its diluted form, cinnamon oil has many advantages:
- It has a pronounced soothing effect;
- blood-relieving and antispasmodic properties;
- relieves attacks of dizziness and nausea;
- It relieves inflammation and lowers body temperature;
- It is used for fungal diseases.
If inhalation is necessary, only three drops of the oil are added. You can drop it into the cream to enrich its structure - no more than two drops.
Important: You should not use this essential oil if the skin is sensitive or the person is subject to nervous exhaustion.
The benefits and harms of tea and coffee with cinnamon
To maintain energy and vigor, to strengthen the metabolic processes in the body, to stimulate the cardiovascular system, as well as often for weight loss use cinnamon in drinks. Most often it is green tea or coffee. Excellent in these drinks are combined in addition such components as ginger and lemon, black pepper and milk.
The fastest and easiest way to make tea is to pour boiling water over a spoonful of brew and a third of a teaspoon of cinnamon and let it infuse for three minutes. If you keep it for a longer time, the drink may become bitter, so it is recommended to drink at once, rather than make a reserve. It is advisable to drink such a tea several times a day.
To adjust the digestive tract, get rid of excess weight, use this drink: brew tea - green or black - 200 grams. Separately grind cinnamon (2 g) and grate ginger, so that you get an incomplete teaspoon. Add spices to the drink, if desired, you can also add honey.
Cinnamon is often added to coffee to improve the taste. The most delicious is considered to be that made from freshly roasted ground beans. These drinks are useful in reasonable quantities.
Cinnamon with honey: benefits and harms
Healing qualities of cinnamon are manifested in combination with honey. This is an excellent antimicrobial that protects the body from inflammation for a long time, improves the digestive process, provides a feeling of satiety. Colds are cured faster.
If you use these products incorrectly, you can harm your health and provoke a worsening of diseases.
Using cinnamon in cooking
Cinnamon will fully develop its aroma and flavor if it is crushed just before use. But first, professional cooks recommend roasting the sticks in a dry pan for a short time, and then using a coffee grinder or mortar to turn them into a powder.
Some housewives fry the sticks on a low heat in some vegetable oil until the true flavor emerges.
First of all, cinnamon is used in all dishes where sugar is present. This means that any compotes and kissels, puddings and casseroles, fruit pies and rolls, sweet pastries and baked fruits or vegetables, jellies and mousses, milk and chocolate drinks and liqueurs can be flavored with cinnamon, and the taste becomes much more refined. Ground cinnamon can also be added to meat dishes, making them spicy and unusual. For example, add when cooking duck or goose, minced meat, cutlets, when grilling meat. Cinnamon improves the taste of jams and jams, marinades and various seasonings.
If the dish is cooked over a fire, add cinnamon about 10 minutes before the end of cooking. If the dish is served cold, such as cottage cheese or salad, this spice should be added immediately before eating.
Hazards and contraindications
Cinnamon can have a negative effect if the person is prone to bleeding and increased intestinal sensitivity. If nervous exhaustion, epilepsy attacks are observed. It is not recommended to use the spice for the elderly, as well as for those who have high blood pressure, and at a time when the body temperature is elevated.
Doctors do not recommend that pregnant women eat dishes containing cinnamon, even in small quantities.
Symptoms of cinnamon allergy
There is no doubt that cinnamon tastes great and has a therapeutic effect, but the body of some people reacts to this spice allergic reaction. It manifests itself in very unpleasant phenomena:
- stomach pain;
- Redness occurs on the skin, which causes itching and burning;
- you get a stuffy nose;
- dizziness occurs;
- breathing becomes difficult;
- Swelling and inflammation can occur anywhere on the body;
- vomiting and nausea;
- Often the spice provokes diarrhea.
Also aromatic powder can in rare cases affect the heart rate and cause fainting.
If the body reacts negatively to cinnamon and products containing it, it is better to give them up.
How to choose and store cinnamon
Not always, when buying cinnamon, the buyer purchases this particular spice. It is not uncommon to find cassia in a package, also belonging to this species of Indonesian cinnamon, but they do have a difference. Both are cinnamon products, but of different varieties. It is cultivated mainly in China and Indonesia, and its Indonesian counterpart has slightly different useful properties.
To obtain a high quality product one takes cinnamon shoots that are 2-3 years old and a very thin layer of bark, whereas cassia has a different production technology. It uses raw material from trees that are more than 7 years old. It successfully replaces the natural spice, but still carries a danger because of the high concentration of coumarin. This substance, which in large doses causes headaches and is poisonous to humans.
You can preserve the aroma, flavor and valuable qualities of cinnamon if you follow a number of recommendations:
- Hide from sunlight, do not leave in a very warm room or with a high percentage of humidity, especially if the spice is stored in sticks.
- To keep the unique flavor unchanged, do not mix with another spice during storage.
- Keep in an opaque, tightly corked container. It is best if it is glass, ceramic or porcelain.
- The shelf life of cinnamon is limited. In sticks can remain suitable for 12 months, if it is crushed - up to 6.
If the spice has lost its unique flavor, then it has expired.
How to grind cinnamon sticks
To turn the sticks into a powder, an ordinary grater is not suitable. And if you use a blender or coffee grinder, you can only achieve a mixture with a non-uniform structure. At first, the required number of sticks should be held over a low heat in a dry frying pan. This procedure is useful because the moisture will escape, it will be easier to grind, and the aromatic qualities will be much stronger. Now the sticks are placed in a secure sturdy bag and run it several times with a rolling pin, pressing hard. This is how the crushed parts are obtained. You can use a mortar for this purpose - the effect will be the same.
Now a coffee grinder or blender comes in handy. If the powder will not be used all, it should be put aside in a separate container, so that its specific taste and smell will not interfere with other spices.
Interesting facts about cinnamon
- This spice is so popular and in demand that for the sake of it a certain measure was invented to control the quality of cinnamon. They called it excel. If it is the highest quality, cinnamon is labeled "00000," and then it goes down to "0" and then down to the lower end of I to IV. The higher the number, the lower the quality of the spice.
- Data about this plant is contained in the book of Emperor Shen-Nung-Kwan, in which he described the plants used by people, and from this treatise we know that cinnamon was known more than 2800 years B.C.
- To this day, cinnamon is still used by some peoples for cult rituals.
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