The Health Benefits of Cinnamon in the Arab American Kitchen
By: Myrna Daher/Arab America Contributing Writer
Cinnamon is one ingredient that can truly take over the aroma of a room. There are many different ways to utilize cinnamon in the Arab American kitchen, but the best way is to incorporate cinnamon to utilize all its benefits.
The health benefits of cinnamon include, but are not limited to, neurological support, removing bacteria, protection of the heart, managing diabetes, dental benefits and more. It would thus make sense that Arab Americans would incorporate this spice as an ingredient in many popular recipes.
The Mediterranean diet is currently a popular trend in American society, so this topic is of particular relevance now. Following is a review of many of the health benefits of cinnamon as well as a variety of popular recipes throughout the Middle East which incorporate this beneficial spice!
Health Benefits of Cinnamon:
Cinnamon is well known for being an antioxidant but consumers may or may not understand the benefits of antioxidants, let alone what Polyphenols are extracted from either the seed of the grape or the oil from the bark of the cinnamon stick. If you aren’t familiar with polyphenols, not to worry, you aren’t the only one. In fact, cinnamon is one overlooked spice and it’s very unfortunate due to its potent health benefits which we shall now examine.
Let’s start with the known benefit of its antioxidant level, which is recognized as the top medicinal spice which assists our bodies, especially as an anti-diabetic. According to The National Library of Medicine, polyphenols undergo phase I and II biotransformation (sulfation, glucuronidation, methylation, and glycine-conjugation) as enterocytes in the liver which increase hydrophilicity favoring urinary secretion.
Polyphenol metabolites derived from liver metabolism interact with adipose tissue, pancreas, muscle, and liver, and may exert anti-diabetic effects. This could be a great home remedy to help manage Type II diabetes while controlling glucose levels while stimulating the metabolism and intestinal tract by assisting in removing toxins and bacteria.
There are two options for receiving Polyphenols, grape seeds or cinnamon bark oil.
Health professionals encourage utilization of this antioxidant in its strongest potency to perform its highest level of benefits to our Health. According to the US National Library of Medicine, Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) has been widely used in spices, flavoring agents, and preservatives. Cinnamon polyphenol extract (CPE) may be important in the alleviation of chronic diseases, but the molecular evidence is not substantial.
Furthermore, studies of this agent provide clinical evidence that is observable which document positive changes encouraged by incorporating cinnamon into one’s food. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipid profiles of people with type 2 diabetes.
The topic of anti-inflammatory agents naturally directs one’s mind to think about arthritis. Cinnamon does contribute in many ways to arthritis, however, the main objective is to relieve pain within muscle joints. The extreme cases of inflammation that causes stiffness and discomfort are common in American society. Taking advantage of the anti-inflammatory benefits that are released in our bodies after consuming cinnamon is thus very desirable in this society.
How does this work?
When soaking a stick of cinnamon in water for a tea, the oil from the stick releases its nutrients of several compounds that encourage the activation of B-cells that help balance inflammation. Bulletproof, a health-related publication, comments on the top seven anti-inflammatory herbs, “Other than muscle stiffness, many other chronic diseases are encouraged by inflammation, on a cellular level or in one or more (or all) body systems. Reducing inflammation to ideal levels is key to achieving optimal functioning, enhanced immunity, vibrant energy, mental clarity, and all the other things that give you the kind of energy you want to have all day”.
Antimicrobial and Anti-fungal properties stem from the oil which is within the bark of the cinnamon stick and extracted into powder form. Studies have shown that cinnamon is effective in fighting yeast infections, ulcers, and even allergies.
With the additional benefit of Polyphenols that we just learned are responsible for removing toxins, cinnamon assists in removing bacteria, which confirms the effectiveness of its relieving the body of harmful properties that have trouble exiting our bodies.
In general terms, cinnamon has beneficial properties that influence the removal of toxic waste from our bodies. Regulating the bacteria in our bodies is very important as well as preventing yeast infections and ulcers, but there are more important benefits, such as managing blood sugar levels, digestion, immunity, cancer, and neurological diseases.
Cinnamon is one powerful plant and can be a significant means of prevention of the neurological diseases of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disorders. As previously mentioned, cinnamon serves as an antioxidant which assists in anti-inflammatory reduction. This ultimately assists in increasing blood flow which helps the heart and previews cardiovascular diseases. Lowering lipids, which basically helps oxidize our bodies, helps the brain and nerves which help prevent Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Ways to use Cinnamon:
Put a whole stick while your tea is warming up. You’ll notice that the water will turn into a reddish brown. Mix in a tea bag of your choice and enjoy drinking a powerhouse of health benefits.
Toss a cinnamon stick in the broth of any soup especially chicken noodle soup!
Making any type of dough can be even more delicious by adding cinnamon, especially pancakes! Sprinkle powdered cinnamon on top of anything for a boost of flavor and health benefits.
Popular Middle Eastern Recipes:
This dish requires a lot of cinnamon. The chicken is cooked with two sticks of cinnamon and an additional 3 – 4 tablespoons of ground cinnamon is added to the rice. The goal is to use enough cinnamon to season each grain of rice. You can always add part of the cinnamon, taste and continue to add until you get it right for your personal preference.
Meghli is a traditional Lebanese dessert that is served to celebrate the birth of a baby. It is a delicious rice pudding spiced with anise, cinnamon, and caraway and garnished with shredded coconut and nuts.
Hushwee: Ground Beef with Rice and Cinnamon
Hushwee is a simple, modest recipe made with ground meat, cinnamon, and toasted pine nuts.
Hopefully, this article has illuminated some of the little-known health benefits of cinnamon, one of the essential foundations of Arab cuisine and has motivated you to use it as often as you can in your recipes.