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7 Benefits You Need To Know About Cinnamon

7 Benefits You Need To Know About Cinnamon

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    Cinnamon is one of the most delicious fragrances of the Season!  

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    Although cinnamon is available throughout the year, the aromatic, deliciously sweet and warm taste of the spice make it the perfect spice to use during the fall and winter months. The spice is readily available and used both inside and outside our kitchen. It is such a commonly used spice, we may give little thought to its origin and history.

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    Cinnamon has a spicy history

    Cinnamon has been used for thousands of years!   The ancient Egyptians utilized this spice as a flavoring for beverages,  for medicinal purposes, and as a step in the embalming process.  Its use and popularity became widespread in Egypt, although the Arabs seemed to hold the monopoly on the popular spice.  They kept its origins a secret, creating elaborate tales, and adventurous stories surrounding the acquisition of the spice. This early ‘supply and demand’ allowed them to drive the market with outrageous prices and create a monopoly.

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    The desire to enjoy this luxury good drove explorers to set sail in search of their own stockpile of the exotic spice.  Eventually Portuguese explorers and traders discovered their own cache at Ceylon, or modern day Sri Lanka.  By the time the British took over the country, itwas no longer a rarity and the price no longer exorbitant.

    There is more than one type of Cinnamon

    The two varieties of commercial  cinnamon, cassia and Ceylon, have similar flavor, however the cinnamon from Ceylon is slightly sweeter, more refined and more difficult to find in local markets. The Ceylon type is more expensive and produced in Sri Lanka.  Cassia is produced in Indonesia and has a stronger aroma and taste.  Cassia cinnamon is what we would typically purchase from the spice aisle of our local grocer.

    Potential Benefits of Cinnamon

    1. Cinnamon may help lower blood pressure Extracts from the bark of the cinnamon tree have been utilized throughout the ages as traditional medicine.  Cassia cinnamon may lower blood pressure in people suffering from diabetes.  More research is needed, but studies show that cinnamon may significantly aid people with type-2 diabetes improve their ability to respond to insulin, thus normalizing their blood sugar levels.  Adding this spice to a carbohydrate-rich food, such as oatmeal or sweet potato, may help lessen its impact on  blood sugar levels.
    2. Cinnamon may have anti-microbial properties. Cinnamaldehyde, a chemical found in the cassia type may help fight against bacterial and fungal infections. Cinnamon’s essential oils also qualify it as an “anti-microbial” food, and cinnamon has been studied for its ability to help stop the growth of bacteria as well as fungi, including the commonly problematic yeast Candida. In laboratory tests, growth of yeasts that were resistant to the commonly used anti-fungal medication fluconazole were often stopped by extracts.
    3. Cinnamon may help lower the effects of consuming high fat meals. According to Penn State researchers, eating a diet rich in spices, like turmeric and cinnamon, reduces the body’s negative responses to eating high-fat meals.
    4. The scent of cinnamon may help boost brain function Just breathing in the sweet aroma of cinnamon can boost brain activity.  Walk down the corridor of any major airport and the delicious and aromatic scent of Cinnabon can entice even the strongest willpower! The wonderfully rich scent of cinnamon can stimulate the mind, uplift the spirit, and create a cozy feeling.
    5. An ancient Chinese secret Traditional Chinese medicine utilized the energy based and warming properties of cinnamon to help with the onset of flu or colds.  A delightful cup of tea was created with cinnamon and ginger to bring much needed relief for the chills brought on by illness.
    6. A natural way to freshen your home The inviting and cleansing scent of cinnamon is thought to have therapeutic effects when used in your home. The spice is a natural air freshener!  But did you know it is also a insect repellent?  It’s true!  A very inexpensive holiday room freshener is to place whole cinnamon sticks in your potpourri.
    7. Natural beauty uses Skip the collagen treatments!  Cinnamon is a natural lip plumper! Simply apply a bit of Vaseline onto your lips and gently pat a tiny amount of cinnamon on top. Rub the mixture on for a few seconds and then allow it to sit for a minute. You should feel a slight tingly sensation from the spice. Add another coat of Vaseline and you’ll have much fuller lips.
    8. A word of caution While cinnamon does not generally cause side effects, heavy usage may irritate the lining of the mouth and lips.  Very high quantities of cassia may be toxic to anyone with liver conditions.  It is always suggested to discuss usage with your physician. Do not use any spice for medicinal purposes in children or women who are pregnant or nursing.

    Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/manuuuuuu/ via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

    Video Summary

    Why is it important to train up our core strength?

    There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

    This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

    Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

    In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

    One Exercise, multiple benefits

    There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

    By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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    When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

    Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

    In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

    What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

    What will happen when you start doing planks every day

      1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

      Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

      • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
      • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
      • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
      • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

      2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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        Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

        Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

        3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

          Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

          4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

            Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

            A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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            A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

            On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

            5. You’ll improve overall balance

              Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

              6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                  Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                  How to hold a plank position

                  1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                  2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                  3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                  4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                  5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                  6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                  7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                  Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                  Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                    How to improve your plank time gradually

                    1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                    2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                    3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                    Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                    Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                    You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                    • Prolapse
                    • After prolapse surgery
                    • Pelvic pain conditions
                    • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                    • Previous childbirth
                    • Overweight

                    Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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