With its sweet and spicy aroma, the cinnamon it has been loved and used around the world for centuries. But how much do we know about this spice with a thousand virtues?
There are those who cannot do without it in desserts and there are those who experiment with savory dishes to give complexity to the recipes: the cinnamon it is one of the most used spices ever.
From its distinctive aroma to its sweet, warm and slightly spicy flavour, this spice promises to enrich every dish.
Cinnamon: what it is and origin
There cinnamon it is obtained from the internal bark of different species of trees of the genus Cinnamomum, commonly known as cinnamon trees. The most common varieties are the Cinnamomum Zeylanicum and the Cinnamomum Cassiabut there are also other varieties.
Known since ancient times, it seems to have been used in China two thousand years before Christ and considered as a spice with a thousand therapeutic and healing properties: Mithridates, king of Pontus in the 1st century BC, included it in his Tiriaca, the mixture of spices and herbs, created by the sovereign himself as an antidote to many poisons.
Even Ovid himself, in the Metamorphoses, connects the myth of the Phoenix to the sweet aroma of this spice. This is why it is among the oldest spices known. Although coming from the East, with its intense perfume and therapeutic power it conquered nobles and aristocrats from all over the world, so much so that it earned the title of spice of kings being used as a gift by queens, cinnamon was also the basis of the commercial power of Venice, a crossroads and meeting place between the European and Eastern economies.
The bark of the younger branches is cut, treated and dried until it takes on its particular “parchment” appearance cinnamon that we all know.
The Italian name “cinnamon” derives precisely from the straw shape that allows the spice to be identified in all supermarkets and grocery stores. The name “cinnamon” instead derives from Arabic and literally means “scented plant from China”.
Today the cinnamon we use comes from the island of Ceylon in Sri Lanka and there are different varieties: the most used are the “true” or Ceylon one (Cinnamomum zeylanicun). The bark of these trees is cut and dried. We find it cut into sticks, in powder or in the form of essential oil.
Cinnamon: properties and benefits
In addition to its irresistible aroma, it offers health benefits that make it a valuable spice in our daily diet. What are the benefits of cinnamon?
- Antioxidant properties: It is rich in powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body, helping to protect cells from damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
- Diabetes control: Studies have shown that it can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels, helping to control type 2 diabetes.
- Anti-inflammatory properties: The oils present have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body and relieve symptoms of conditions such as arthritis.
- Cardiovascular benefits: Cinnamon is not bad for the heartIndeed, consuming this spice regularly can help improve heart health, reducing LDL cholesterol levels (the so-called “bad cholesterol”) and blood pressure.
- Antibacterial and antifungal properties: Between properties of cinnamon there are also antibacterial and antifungal ones linked to its compounds capable of fighting harmful bacteria and fungi, helping to prevent infections and improve general health.
- Promote digestion: It has the ability to promote the secretion of gastric juices and activate trypsin: a digestive enzyme. In this way it helps the stomach to break down ingested foods more easily. Being rich in fiber and a good source, calcium, iron and manganese can provide relief from constipation and aid the intestine in digestion.
- Weight management: Why cinnamon makes you lose weight? It could promote weight loss thanks to its ability to regulate blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and slightly increase metabolism.
- Cinnamon and sexual properties – It has often been associated with potential sexual health benefits as it is thought to increase libido and improve blood circulation, potentially influencing sexual response and male fertility.
How to use cinnamon in cooking
Cinnamon has proven to be a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from sweet to savory. Here are some ways to use it in the kitchen:
- Sweets -It is a key element in many traditional desserts, such as cakes, biscuits, breads and baked desserts. Prepare one apple and cinnamon cake or Cinnamon cookies or add a spoonful of cinnamon powder it can give an irresistible touch of sweetness and heat to pancake mixture.
- Drinks – This spice is also delicious in drinks, such as coffee, tea, hot chocolate and cocktails. Add a cinnamon stick to a cup of chai tea or a splash of cinnamon powder to a hot chocolate creates a warm and enveloping drink perfect for cold days.
- Savory dishes – It may seem strange to some, but cinnamon can also be used in savory dishes, such as stews, curries and meat marinades. Adding a pinch of cinnamon to a chicken curry or beef chili can add depth and complexity of flavor.
- Condiments – It is a common ingredient in many condiments, such as cinnamon sugar and baking spice mix. These seasonings can be used to add a touch of sweetness and spice to a variety of dishes and desserts.
Recipes with cinnamon, some ideas to try
Few have not yet experienced it cinnamon in cooking. If you are among them, here are some delicious recipes that use cinnamon.
Ingredients for apples
- 6 Golden or Renette apples;
- 50 g of cane sugar;
- juice of half a lemon;
- 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.
Ingredients for the crumble
- 150 g of 00 flour;
- 80 g of cold butter;
- 125 g of cane sugar.
Peel the apples, then cut the apple into small pieces and pour it into a large pan, adding some sugar and lemon juice. Immediately afterwards, cook everything on high heat in the pan for about 5 minutes. At the end of cooking, turn off and sprinkle with cinnamon, stirring the mixture very quickly.
Immediately afterwards, blend the soft butter, sugar and flour together in a container to obtain a rough, crumbly mixture. Then pour the apples into a baking tray that you have previously lined with baking paper, then level everything with a wooden spoon and cover with the well-crumbled mixture.
Create a uniform but soft surface on the pan, without pressing it excessively. Bake the pan in the preheated oven at 180° for about 30 minutes until the crumble is cooked and golden. Finally, remove from the oven, leave to rest for a few minutes and then serve in a cup with vanilla ice cream on top.
- 1 and a half liters of red wine;
- 3 cinnamon sticks;
- 250 g of cane sugar;
- 10 cloves;
- 2 oranges;
- 1 lemon;
- 1 apple;
- 1 pinch of nutmeg.
Wash all the fruit very well, then remove the zest from the oranges and lemons and cut the whole apple into rounds. Immediately afterwards, carefully pour the wine into a large pot, together with the cinnamon, sugar, cloves, apple slices and the peel cut into small pieces.
Finish the dish by pouring a pinch of nutmeg into the pan. Let everything cook over a low heat until it reaches the boil and until the sugar has completely dissolved. Finally, mix everything very carefully and serve while still hot.
Natural remedies with cinnamon
As is easy to imagine, i benefits of cinnamon make the spice a widely used ingredient among natural remedies.
For example, being antibacterial, it can be used to combat infections of the pharyngeal tract. Just boil a cup of water and dissolve in it 2 tablespoons of honey, 2/3 of ground cinnamon (or a good bit of grated cinnamon, if you have chopped cinnamon) and a handful of pepper. Bring everything to the boil and drink as if it were a good hot tea. The spicy scent clears all the respiratory tracts in a minute and the antiseptic properties of cinnamon reduce thethroat inflammation.
Another way to fight winter bacteria is to take a piece of cinnamon and boil it in a little water in a saucepan for about 5 minutes. Mix the decoction obtained with the milk and add a little cocoa. This is a good morning habit for adults and children, as it contains cinnamon natural antibiotics.
Furthermore, being also an extraordinary antifungal, it helps to inhibit the growth of fungal organisms (such as candida, which many women suffer from). Obviously little can be done with i natural remedies if you are already in an advanced stage, it is therefore advisable to intervene at the first symptoms.
You can put two drops of essential oil in the diffuser to kill bacteria in the air and improve the environment.
The essential oil can also be used to make fumigations by dissolving a few drops in boiling water and breathing the released steam by covering the head with a towel or to increase the effect a few drops can be spread on the chest when the bronchi are blocked by mucus.
Cinnamon-based cleansers and creams therefore exploit the antioxidant power as a disinfectant and thanks to the presence of eugenol and its antiseptic properties it is excellent against acne.
There are many creams on the market with cinnamon extract that cure capillary fragility at a mature age thanks to its polyphenols which also have an effective sebum-regulating activity.
How much cinnamon can you eat in a day?
The amount of cinnamon that you can eat in a day It depends on several factors, including age, body weight and general health. However, research suggests that consuming cinnamon moderately as part of a balanced diet is safe for most people.
The case is different with supplements containing cinnamon. A safe daily dose of cinnamon powder for adults is usually indicated as approximately 5-6 grams per day, which corresponds to approximately half a teaspoon.