By peoplestaff225
Updated May 08, 2015 01:15 PM
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The smell of cinnamon conjures up vivid memories of weekend mornings being treated to warm cinnamon buns and cozy winter evenings spent baking decadent pies. But who knew that in these guilty-pleasure sweet treats lies a super ingredient with benefits you can enjoy year-round?

Stripping away its best friend, sugar, we are left with an ancient spice that is loaded with incredible health benefits. Cinnamon comes in two varieties: Ceylon, a true cinnamon, and cassia. Cassia is what is generally found in our supermarkets, and there isn’t a huge difference between the two. Either variety of cinnamon will allow you to reap these benefits:

Controlling Blood Sugar
Studies have shown that a daily intake of a small amount of cinnamon can curb blood sugar spikes that occur after eating, as well as keep your fasting blood-glucose levels low. This is especially important for those who suffer from Type 2 diabetes, but it’s helpful for anyone looking to regulate their blood sugar levels.

Better Heart Health
Cinnamon contains high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols, which help to create healthy arteries, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Research has also shown that cinnamon helps to lower levels of triglycerides as well as the “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, maintaining better heart health.

Curb That Sweet Tooth!
Swapping in cinnamon for sugar on toast, in coffee, or anywhere you typically sprinkle the sweet stuff can help curb your sweet tooth (and cut your sugar intake) while adding fragrant flavor.

How to Eat More Cinnamon
To get the most from cinnamon, integrate small amounts into your diet throughout the day. Here are some easy ways to use it:

  • 1. Sprinkle it on top of your coffee, or mix it in coffee grounds before brewing
  • 2. Stir some into hot (or cold!) oatmeal, cereal or plain yogurt
  • 3. Mix it in with your favorite nut butter, and spread it on toast or celery for a nutrient-rich snack
  • 4. Having a movie night? Instead of salt, add cinnamon to your popcorn.
  • 5. For more savory options, you can season chicken, squash and even pasta with it!

Too Much of a Good Thing?
Like everything, you should use cinnamon in moderation. The cassia variety contains a natural compound known as coumarin, which for people who are sensitive to it can cause liver damage. Experts recommend 1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice per day, so don’t go attempting the cinnamon challenge.

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