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Every time a new season comes along, I marvel at the accompanying spices, foods and associations. It never ceases to amaze me how our collective cultures celebrate spring with certain flavors and tastes, such as lemon and cilantro, or summer with fruity salads and toppings, and mangoes and pineapples. Especially in the colder climates of the northeast, fall and winter have distinctive flavor palates all their own. We associate certain holidays with certain flavors, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas with nutmeg and cinnamon. Our pumpkin pies are spiced and our teas and chai lattes bring us to the eastern parts of the world to acknowledge and rejoice in cardamom and clove.
Yet, even as we are so inclined to use these flavors at special times of the year and peruse recipes which call for them more often during certain seasons than others, we mostly have access to many of them all year long.
Cinnamon, the bark of the laurel tree, is one of these. Now ubiquitous as salt and pepper, it peers up gracefully golden brown from our commercial cereal boxes, our oatmeal, and our toast, as if it were meant to be there no matter the season, as natural as water.
As much as I adore it, I've always wondered about the health benefits of cinnamon. After all, so much of our food and food combinations were created by people far wiser than we are today, who realized that a sprinkle here or a dab there was not only colorful and tasty but good for us as well. Long before a car was invented to actually drive-through any window at a chain restaurant, folks were piling their plates high with what they knew would sustain them, dollar meals a foreign and useless concept.
So what of it? Is cinnamon merely decorative and delicious or is it something of a health boon? Let's take a look.
Nowadays people realize cinnamon can increase heart health by reducing blood clotting.
It is thought that cinnamon can help to control blood sugar levels and assist with weight management.
Cinnamon was used by ancient Egyptians to help preserve mummies.
It was used by the ancient Chinese as one of their top ranking medicinal herbs, helpful with digestion.