Healthy living is a concern that many have. Frankly it is key to each and every person’s survival on this planet. I like to think that we adventurous grillers and barbecuers have a leg up on the competition. I don’t know about you, but I tend to use more herbs and spices when I cook outdoors than when I am inside using the oven. Indoors I pull out the Mrs. Dash, but outside I will chop fresh parsley and sprinkle cayenne. I do this not to cover up anything, hide any flavours, but to bring out and enhance what we eat. Who knew that I was also helping to lower blood pressure, increase digestive efficiency and helping to prevent Alzheimer’s.
I wanted to find out something funny or interesting about Cinnamon so that I could put this on a spice jar label I was making. So I googled “Interesting facts about cinnamon”. This is where I stumbled over several pages detailing the health benefits of just this particular spice.
Cinnamon is high in antioxidants, and activates essential enzymes that trigger cells to respond more efficiently to insulin. This is quite the perk if you have type 2 diabedes. Cinnamon contains minerals like calcium, and vitamins A, Bi, B2 and C. Not only does it help regulate blood glucose levels, but it leads to an increase in lean muscle mass. When consumed cinnamon creates heat. The Body reacts to this heat by producing its own heat to compensate and balance itself. This process is called thermogenics and fat is burned durring this process. What a great tool for people trying to loose weight.
Now there are distinct types of cinnamon as well. It is a good idea to know which is correct one to consume to gain the health benefits of cinnamon. Ceylon Cinnamon is from the island of Ceylon, now known as Shri Lanka. Only the thin inner bark is used in production and it creates a thinner and more crumbly spice. Ceylon Cinnamon is also delicate and sweet in aroma and taste.
Chinese Cinnamon, is what we are more familiar with. It is actually known as Cassia and has a much stronger flavour to it. It is a reddish brown, and has a more strong wooden texture to it because all of the plant is used in production. Cassia is what North Americans are more familiar with when it comes to cinnamon. Unfortunately, there is a toxic component in the essential oils of Cassia, called coumarin. It is recommended that you do not consume large amounts of Cassia. The amounts of coumarin found in Ceylon are negligible.
Lowers blood pressure, helps stop heart attacks that are in progress, increases appetite, improves digestion, relieves gas, indigestion and nausea, and even thins phlegm.
Is a natural antiseptic, powerful cancer fighter, lowers cholesterol, reduces plaque (in arteries), and lowers blood pressure.
Has anti-cancer properties especially for people who have quit smoking, it is an anti-inflammatory, helps with rheumatoid arthritis, contains many antioxidants and vitamins.
Kills bacteria including E.Coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus, lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, helps cure athletes foot because of its antiseptic qualities, preserves foods, and even helps stop the formation of Alzheimers.
Is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial, it is a digestive aid and soothes a cough.
From the same family as Turmeric, it is a digestive aid, relieves pain from gas, is a powerful anti-nauseant, helps relieve motion sickness, lowers cholesterol and has anti-viral properties.
Helps with gas and stomach upset, prevents aging. Not to say, you eat a little basil and you will live forever, but it has properties that protect against free radicals which cause aging.
Give relief of pain, is anti-microbial, lowers blood sugar, is great for tooth aches, and helps heal cold sores.
All of those healthful benefits sound pretty good. And as you can likely imagine, I am going to say, fresh is better. And what better family activity than to make your own miniature herb garden. If you are incredibly lucky, you can put it on your windowsill in your kitchen. But if not, I am sure you can find a way.
You can find most herbs fresh at your local farmer’s market, or in the fruit and veg section of your favourite grocery store. These, because they have been picked and have already begun to loose their vitamins and minerals, will only keep for about 5 days if refrigerated. (With the exception of basil, it should be kept at room temperature with stems in a glass of water.) Another trick is to remove the leaves of the herbs you wish to keep. Then combine them in a bowl with enough water to make a paste. Then freeze that in ice cube trays. You can always keep the frozen cubes in a freezer bags, and they keep for two months.
Delicate herbs like dill and chives are better put in at the end of cooking to get the best
out of the flavour.
Dried herbs do better in long cooking like soups, sauces and stews.
I hope that you found that very informative. I was quite surprised to learn these things, and all because I wanted to be humorous on my spice jars. Go figure.
What amazing discoveries have you made in pursuit of something completely different?
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