The holiday season has begun and nothing puts me in a festive mood more than the aroma of something sweet baking in the oven. For many of my friends, cinnamon is what puts them in a holiday state of mind. Made from the ground bark of a genus of trees called Cinnamomum, the top cinnamon producing countries are Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar. There are two main types: Ceylon cinnamon, produced in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil, and the Caribbean, and cassia cinnamon, which comes mainly from Indonesia, China and Vietnam.
Cinnamon is one of those delicious spices that also has many healthful properties, which places it firmly in the realm of FoodTrients. It has been used for thousands of years, not only to enhance the flavor of foods but historically doctors used cinnamon to treat conditions such as coughing, arthritis, sore throats and other common ailments. Today, research indicates that cinnamon has some very beneficial uses, including:
Cinnamon has a remarkable ability to moderate blood sugar levels. I’ve been taking cinnamon capsules for years because it’s so effective at lowering blood sugar. In a USDA study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, cinnamon stood out among dozens of herbs, spices and medicinal plants as being effective in maintaining proper blood sugar metabolism. According to the results of the study, one gram of cinnamon a day reduced blood sugar 18-29%, triglycerides 23-30% and LDL cholesterol 7-27%.
It’s so easy to add cinnamon to your diet. Besides baked goods, you can add a teaspoonful to your oatmeal, sprinkle into coffee, tea or coco; mix it into yogurt, use it to top fresh fruit and for baked apples. Cinnamon adds a distinctive flavor to Moroccan-style meats and stews and adds depth to sweet potatoes or baked squash. Whole grain pancakes, waffles and French toast are all better with cinnamon.
I also like to serve a steaming cup of Cinnamon Coffee on cold nights. The cinnamon and nutmeg in the recipe decrease inflammation while the cloves contain high levels of antioxidants. The milk and the molasses in this comforting recipe provide a good dose of calcium. And coffee contains antioxidants that help prevent damage to your DNA.
This delicious cold-weather drink has a host of health benefits. Both cinnamon and nutmeg decrease inflammation inside the body. Cloves have high levels of antioxidants for skin renewal and regeneration. Molasses and evaporated milk provide calcium for strong bones and teeth.
1 can (12-oz.) evaporated milk
4 Tbs. molasses (or to taste)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. each ground nutmeg and cloves
4 cups freshly brewed coffee
Cinnamon sticks as garnish
FoodTrients Benefits for This Recipe:
Disease Prevention: Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases (such as cancer and diabetes).
Mind: Improves mood, memory and focus.
Beauty: Promotes vibrant skin and hair and helps keep eyes healthy.
My recipe for Exotic Fruit Salad, which is featured in my cookbook – The Age Beautifully Cookbook — is a protein-packed, vitamin-filled way to grab a healthy snack or start your morning. You can add spices, such as nutmeg, cardamom, and allspice (about ⅛ tsp. each), and nuts. Instead of exotic fruits you can use grapes, blackberries, strawberries, and/or bananas. The Omega-3 fatty acids in the flaxseeds are great for your arteries and heart. Oats and fiber are both known to reduce cholesterol. The exotic fruits in this recipe are full of antioxidants and vitamin C, which helps the body resist infection and aids tissue regeneration. The probiotics in yogurt can help digestion and bolster the immune system. Cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels.
2 cups oats
⅓ cup maple syrup
½ cup flaxseeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 egg white (organic, free-range, or Omega-3-enriched)
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. maple syrup
½ cup sliced fresh figs
½ cup cubed fresh pineapple
½ cup sliced and seeded jujubes
½ cup sliced fresh jackfruit sections
½ cup peeled, sliced kiwis
½ cup peeled, halved, and seeded rambutans
2 cups plain, low fat Greek yogurt
FoodTrients Benefits for This Recipe:
Anti-inflammatory: Reduces the inflammation process in cells, tissues and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and lower the risk of long-term disease.
Anti-oxidant: Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free-radicals.
Immunity-booster (including Anti-Bacterial): Supports the body’s resistance to infection and strengthens immune vigilance and response.