CINNAMON IS ANTIVIRAL
I never had a cold or flu until I was about 20 years old. Everyone in our family was healthy. I always thought it was just all the milk we drank and the great meals my parents prepared. Could our good health be attributed to all the cinnamon we consumed?
Many mornings our toast had butter sprinkled with a sugar-cinnamon mix. Kept in a shake, like salt, we sprinkled cinnamon on hot cereals. If food tasted better with cinnamon, we added that spice. I use it almost daily in my coffee. The cinnamon shake bottle sits in the cupboard alongside my coffee.
I never thought much about cinnamon being a health supplement until a few years ago. I read a news article about citizens working in a cinnamon factory in Indonesia. Although Indonesia had a horrible killing flu that year, NOT ONE OF 278 EMPLOYEES IN THE CINNAMON FACTORY CONTRACTED THE FLU. That opened my eyes.
SO, WHAT IS CINNAMON?
Cinnamon, from the bark of plants in the Laurel family, has been used for thousands of years and was once a gift for kings.
My first source of food information is in the back of my dog-eared “Spice Islands Cook Book; How to cook with Spices, Herbs and Seasonings” written by the Spice Islands Home Economics Staff. The book discusses cinnamon beginning with the Middle Ages when it was a treasured spice. Check out their website at www.spiceislands.com.
My favorite cinnamon recipe in that book is the “Baked Spiced Pork Chops” (page 61). I serve it with mashed sweet potatoes or rice. Easy to make and put in the oven, it’s great for dinner parties.
I visited the Spice Islands when I lived in SE Asia. Before that time I had never handled raw spices like the mace apple-type fruit. In appearance like a small green apple, the outside flesh of the apple-like fruit is dried, ground up and sold as mace. The core is what you buy as the nutmeg. I use store-bought ground nutmeg most of the time. However, my egg custard always has the richer, freshly ground nutmeg heavily sprinkled on top before baking in the microwave. Yum! Recipe at the end of this blog.
Cinnamon contains ‘cinnamaldehyde’ which may be responsible for the health benefits.
PROPERTIES OF CINNAMON
Joe Leech, MS, included in a HEALTHLINE ARTICLE some properties of cinnamon as a health spice. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section6 Additional information is included below:
Decreases blood pressure in animals
Decreases blood sugar levels
Decreases insulin resistance
Increases “good” HDL cholesterol levels
Inhibits buildup of tau protein in the brain (hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease)
In mice helped protect neurons & improved motor function
In mice reduced growth of cancer cells, the formation of blood vessels in tumors,
In mice, appears to be toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death
Used to treat circulation (may lower risk of heart disease)
Used to treat coughs
Used to treat digestion
Used to treat exhaustion
In a study of 26 spices, “…cinnamon wound up as the clear winner, even outranking “superfoods” like garlic and oregano. In fact, it is so powerful that cinnamon can be used as a natural food preservative.” https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section2
Cinnamons I use in cooking are
Batavia Cassia, Ceylon Cinnamon and Saigon Cassia.
The picture to the left has some of the cinnamon bottles from my kitchen cupboard.
The Batavia Cassia is grown in Indonesia. These are the ones usually sold as Cinnamon sticks you find in the stores.
Ceylon Cinnamon, grown in Ceylon and India, is from a fir tree that grows over 50-feet tall. The cultivated ones have many shoots coming up from the base of a short trunk pruned to 8-feet tall. The bark is removed from the shoots during the monsoon season. The rain keeps the bark pliable and easy to work with. If you cannot find the higher quality Ceylon cinnamon in the grocery, it can be purchased online.
Saigon Cassia, originally found in China, has what the Spice Islands cookbook calls a “warm, bitter-sweet and aromatic taste.” Cassia has been found to cause health problems in large doses due to the coumarin content. Being cheaper, it is often sold in groceries.
Selective uses of Cinnamon include it in baked cookies and sweets, puddings, cooked fruit, fish, honey, meats, mulled red wine, pickling liquids and punch drinks. Seeds are used in potpourri and seed oils in perfumes.
DANGERS OF CINNAMON USE
NOTE: Like many spices, INHALED DRY CINNAMON CAN BE DANGEROUS. If inhaled, dry cinnamon can cause choking or gagging, irritate your throat, and can permanently damage your lungs. Lungs cannot break down spice fibers. Keep all spices safe from children.
Dangers of cinnamon use are discussed by Ryan Raman, MS, RD in his article, “6 Side Effects of Too Much Cinnamon,” found in the online Healthline. He states it is safe to eat, but too much of the spice can damage your liver, cause mouth sores or cancer and lower blood sugar. As mentioned earlier, Raman states if inhaled, it can cause damage to your lungs and breathing problems. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/side-effects-of-cinnamon#1
Bremness. Lesley. The Complete Book of HERBS; A practical guide to growing & using herbs. Viking Studio Books. Penguin Books. Hudson Street. New York. 1988.
Leech.Joe.MS. 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon. HEALTHLINE. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section6. 5 July 2018. Used 13 March 2020.
Raman.Ryan.MS.RD. 5 Side Effects of Too Much Cinnamon. HEALTHLINE. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/side-effects-of-cinnamon#1. 26 September 2019. Accessed 13 March 2020.
Spice Islands Home Economics Staff, The Spice Islands Cook Book: How to cook with Spices, Herbs and Seasoning., Lane Books. Menlo Park. CA.1965.
ADDITIONAL LINKS FOR INFORMATION
KFOR TV: https://kfor.com/health/fda-cooking-spices-could-be-making-you-sick/amp/
VERY Easy- Sour Cream Apple Pie
Makes its own crust!
This takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare and cooks 35-40-minutes.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
2 thinly sliced medium apples. If used unpeeled, clean and dry the outside of the apples before slicing.
( I use a slicer which cores and cuts an apple into 8-pieces. Then I slice each piece.)
1/2 C raisins
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 C Bisquick mix
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 C half-and-half
2 TB melted butter
2 large eggs
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Butter or spray 9" pie plate or 9"square glass dish.
Stir together apples, raisins, sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Pour into pie dish.
Except for the 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon, mix/whisk remaining ingredients until well blended. Spoon or pour gently over the apple mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon. Bake 40-45 minutes. When a knife inserted into the mixture comes out clean, the pie has finished cooking. When cooled, store covered in the refrigerator. (I use Press & Seal)
VERY EASY- Microwave Egg Custard w/nutmeg
A family recipe from Irene Baron
1 ¾ C. milk
4-5 large eggs
1/3 C sugar (or less)
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Heat milk 4-5 minutes in the microwave. Do NOT boil. In a 1-1/2 quart casserole, beat eggs. Stir into eggs the sugar, salt and vanilla. Add hot milk and stir to mix. Over the custard surface, sprinkle ground nutmeg or grind fresh nutmeg. Cover the casserole dish. Place in a microwave oven on low for 12-14 minutes. The time will vary depending upon the size of your eggs and the power of your microwave. Check for doneness by inserting a clean knife. If the knife is removed with no custard residue on it, the custard is cooked. Cool.
I often double the recipe for dinner guests who always love fresh egg custard. If you double the recipe, you may have to cook it 17-20 minutes.