Every once in awhile, a particular ingredient (edible or otherwise) gets a ton of press and starts appearing in everything from drinks to lotions. Why? Is it all hype, or are there any real benefits? If there are benefits, what’s the best way for you to incorporate this new ingredient into your already-crowded life? We do the research so you don’t have to, because we’re good at reading between the lines: welcome to Ingredient Check!
WHY ARE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT CINNAMON?
Cinnamon technically isn’t a new ingredient—it dates all the way back to 2000 BCE—but it’s especially popular this time of year because it’s the quintessential fall spice (it’s also a great cleansing food).
But aside from spicing up your favorite fall dishes, cinnamon is making a name for itself as a superfood with all of its amazing health benefits, including its ability to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risks associated with heart disease and diabetes. It also has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which make it an effective and sought-after ingredient in health and beauty products.
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
Cinnamon is a spice cultivated from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees within the laurel family. Its distinctive flavor and aroma come from the essential oils that occur naturally in the bark. These essential oils contain active compounds, most notably cinnamaldehyde, which is most responsible for the health benefits and healing effects of cinnamon.
The two main types of cinnamon are: (1) Cinnamomum verum or Ceylon cinnamon, which hails from Sri Lanka and is often referred to as “true cinnamon” and (2) Cinnamomum cassia or Chinese cinnamon, which is the more common variety found in spice cabinets today. Health experts recommend not eating more than 2 teaspoons a day of the Cassia variety because it doesn’t offer the same benefits as Ceylon cinnamon, and it has a higher concentration of courmarin, which can cause liver toxicity if consumed in large doses.
If you can get your hands on Ceylon cinnamon, the U.S. Department of Health recommends taking up to 6 grams daily for 6 weeks to reap the health benefits and then taking a break for one week to avoid over-consumption.
DO YOU NEED CINNAMON? WHY?
Cinnamon not only has a naturally sweet taste that makes it a great alternative to refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, but it’s also been proven to reduce insulin resistance and lower high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes.
With its anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, cinnamon can also be used to treat anything from the common cold to even more serious respiratory infections. What’s more, cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory that can boost blood circulation, so regular intake can help reduce joint pain and headaches caused by systemic or specific inflammation.
And you don’t have to eat cinnamon to reap its many benefits, either. The scent of cinnamon alone is said to increase cognitive function, so if nothing else, light a candle!
HOW TO GET IT?
You know how to get cinnamon. But how do you get cinnamon in your skincare?
Some of our favorite skincare products incorporate cinnamon, including:
Illustration: the amazing Rebekah Flores
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