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Cinnamon and Heart Health

Anna Wilde -- Here are six facts about holistic health care from your spice rack that make cinnamon a heart health winner.

Why is cinnamon being hailed as one of the newest heart health heroes? That humble sweet spice better known for blessing French Toast or doughnuts with a delightful richness, is moving from the spice shelf to the natural pharmacy. Research scientists and nutritionists have been impressed by cinnamon's potential contribution to a healthier heart. What six facts make cinnamon a heart health winner?

1) Cinnamon can reduce and perhaps prevent diabetes.

How? Cinnamon increases the body's ability to regulate blood sugar by increasing glucose metabolism. A compound in cinnamon stimulates insulin receptors and inhibits an enzyme which activates them. It is wise to manage blood sugar levels because of the strong link between diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

2) The wonder spice cinnamon is great value and delicious.

Compared to many pharmaceutical drugs cinnamon is inexpensive and easy to obtain. A combination of lifestyle changes, diet improvement, regular exercise plus daily cinnamon is a low cost way to ensure heart health. If you are overweight, loosing approximately 10 pounds (4 1/2 kilos) of body weight reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease by half!

3) Cinnamon is relatively safe as a natural medicine.

Scientists concerned about the safety of cinnamon in large doses have conducted studies. The results show that potentially toxic compounds are present in infinitesimal quantities; making cinnamon very safe for humans.

4) Cinnamon contains anti-clotting properties preventing unwanted clumping of blood platelets.

As you probably know this excess clumping and blood thickening is a heart health issue, because the heart has to work much harder to pump thicker blood, especially with "hardened" arteries. This contributes to high blood pressure. Aspirin produces a similar effect, but with other complications. Cinnamon could be a healthier effective alternative, when used in combination with diet and exercise.

5) Cinnamon is an excellent circulation tonic according to traditional healing philosophies, such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese Medicine.

Cinnamon is a warming spice, also helpful for digestion ("stoking the digestive fire"). So if you get cold fingers and toes in winter, try cinnamon (with a little ginger) in hot teas and other recipes.

6) Cinnamon may help reduce cholesterol by assisting in the breakdown of bile salts.

Cinnamon contains fibre and calcium, the combination of which works to remove these excess bile salts. Cholesterol is simultaneously broken down to create new bile.

Cinnamon study results: One study was conducted with 60 participants with type two diabetes. 30 people were in a control group. The other 30 participants took varying quantities of cinnamon; between 1/2 teaspoon and 1 1/2 teaspoons daily over 7 weeks. All 30 showed a significant drop in blood glucose (18-29%), triglycerides (23-30%), and LDL cholesterol (7-27%). Once cinnamon intake was reduced all indicator levels began to rise. The control group showed no change. There are several studies with rats and mice that show cinnamon's positive effect on blood sugar control, even when sugary foods are increased.

In conclusion, studies with animals and humans indicate there is more to cinnamon than tantalizing aromas in a Moroccan market or the flavorsome crowning glory in your icy eggnog. Try adding more cinnamon daily to drinks, breakfast porriges or muesli, stews and soups. Combine a diet sprinkled with cinnamon, (well, in moderation and according to taste!), with plenty of exercise, and you're on your way to a longer heart healthier life.

New Zealanders Anna and Roger Wilde inspire and encourage people who want healthy food to be easy, delicious, and great value. Check out their helpful easy healthy food Web site, wildhealthfood.com. There you'll find Anna and Roger's yummy healthy recipes like bircher muesli.

© 2007 Anna Wilde

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