If you are like most people, you only know three things about cinnamon. It has a warm, reddish-brown coloring. It is expensive to purchase, and it has a distinctive flavor. Truthfully, cinnamon has a long, colorful history that is interesting to say the least and revealing in many ways. Here is a look at cinnamon's role in the world from the very beginning.
Centuries ago, cinnamon was rare and hard to find. It was so scarce in quantity that it was worth its weight in gold. Suppliers hid the details of its whereabouts to prevent competition from taking their profits away. Despite its scarcity, cinnamon was widely used throughout much of Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Centuries ago, Arab traders carried cinnamon to faraway lands such as Africa and Europe. They did so secretly to maintain the value of this highly desired spice. Their customers wearied of paying high prices, and they began to explore other lands in search of cinnamon.
While it is true that more than three hundred types of trees and shrubs found in the genus Cinnamomum exist, only two kinds are actively cultivated for their cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is less expensive and more widely available as a result. Ceylon cinnamon is expensive, partly because it is only cultivated from a single type of tree, the cinnamomum zeylanicum. Ceylon cinnamon offers a slightly more delicate flavor than Cassia cinnamon.
Even though it is more expensive, Ceylon cinnamon is thought to be the "true" cinnamon because it provides health benefits along with its sweeter taste. Moreover, Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, a substance that is harmful to the liver, particularly when ingested in large amounts. Ceylon cinnamon has such minuscule amounts of coumarin that they are barely detectable.
Ceylon Cinnamon is delicately harvested from the inside of the bark of the cinnamomum zeylanicum. The tree's branches are removed during this process, and the bark is carefully peeled from them. Next, the bark is peeled and rolled into quill-like pieces from its inside. These pieces resemble narrow cigars in appearance. Before they are shipped to market, the cinnamon sticks are thoroughly dried.
Despite its popularity, Ceylon cinnamon continues to come from Sri Lanka, a small island that was once known by the name "Ceylon." Sri Lanka produces nearly all of the commercial supply of this spice, up to as much as 90% of it. Ceylon cinnamon is also found in lesser quantities in the following countries - Brazil, Madagascar, India, and the Caribbean.
Ancient Egyptians appreciated the sweet scent of cinnamon and used it during the embalming process. Not only did it offer an opportunity to mask the smell of a dead body, but it also helped to preserve the body during the interval between death and burial.
Although many stories surround the death of Nero's second wife, Poppaea Sabina the Younger, most of them agree that a year's worth of cinnamon was burned at her funeral. Whether Nero did so in tribute of his wife or solely because he regretted being at least partly responsible for her death is in question. However, the fact remains that cinnamon was highly celebrated for its fragrance even as long ago as AD 65.
Ancient Egyptians experimented with many spices in their effort to preserve meat and prevent it from spoiling. Eventually, they discovered that several spices, including cinnamon, were useful in slowing the spoiling of meat. Although the Egyptians may not have known the science behind this process, they learned to use cinnamon to keep their meats fresh. Cinnamon and others spices, such as cloves and garlic, slow the growth of bacteria in the food by setting up a perimeter that is toxic to them.
Many myths began to swirl around the presence of cinnamon long ago, when few people knew where it came from or how it was cultivated. People made up fantastical stories to explain its existence. Some sources suggest that cinnamon grew in "Heavenly Paradise" and that it was sent to earth as a gift to humans. Its scarcity and aromatic scent gave credibility to this story. In another magical tale, cinnamon was brought to the earth in a faraway land so that large birds would be able to build their nests high up on a mountain that had no trees to give them branches. Other myths surround the origination of this sweetly scented spice, but the truth is much more ordinary than all of them.
Cinnamon ingestion is thought to promote healthy blood sugar levels. It does this by boosting the body's ability to return blood glucose levels to normal more quickly when this spice is ingested regularly.
Cinnamon promotes healthy cholesterol levels by increasing HDL cholesterol, which is considered the good one. As a result, the likelihood of developing cholesterol-related problems is reduced.
While many people take anti-inflammatory medication to ease their aches and pains, the antioxidants in cinnamon may offer similar results. Cinnamon's antioxidants offer anti-inflammatory properties, promoting relief from problems caused by inflammation, including joint pain, headaches, and arthritis.
Cinnamon is known to contain a variety of antioxidants. The presence of free radicals is reduced when antioxidants are present in large numbers, aiding in protecting cellular damage.
Some studies suggest that regular intake of cinnamon offers memory enhancement. More specifically, the results of these studies suggest that brain functionality is improved regarding memory and attention span.
Cinnamon has been used for many centuries for a wide variety of purposes. Today, many people look to Ceylon cinnamon supplements for the health benefits it offers. If you want to take advantage of these health benefits, you should look for a product offering certified organic Ceylon cinnamon for the best and safest results.
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