The Health Benefits of Cinnamon, Everyone's Favorite Spice
Cinnamon can do so much more than just enliven your latte: The plant's potent compound cinnamaldehyde has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes when you get a few teaspoons daily. It's not hard to add cinnamon to your diet, and with the tasty ideas here, you'll be well on your way. First let's look at the different forms of cinnamon available.
The most readily available form of cinnamon is ground. If you have cinnamon in your spice cabinet make sure it is still fresh before using it—in general, ground spices last about six months. For maximum antioxidant benefits, Los Angeles bariatric physician Amy Lee, MD, says to seek out the Ceylon cinnamon variety. Then go big at breakfast: Shower a teaspoon (or more!) onto yogurt and fruit, buttered toast, or oatmeal.
Herbaceous in flavor, cinnamon leaves are unprocessed so they have extra-high levels of antioxidants, says Dr. Lee. Sub them for bay leaves in stews and curries, or stir them into mulled wine or cider.
These derive from the tree's inner bark. Use a coffee grinder to pulverize them into a powder that retains more nutritious essential oils than pre-ground cinnamon, suggests Dr. Lee.
Proving that cinnamon is not just for lattes, this tropical-tasting drink combines full-fat yogurt with coconut water, hemp-seed hearts for protein, fiber, and iron, and frozen pineapple chunks. Add a pinch of cinnamon before blending and another pinch to serve.
Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes
Cinnamon is an unexpected but inspired ingredient in this plant-powered lunch. Bake sweet potatoes, then load them with diced avocado for a healthy fat and black beans stirred together with olive oil and cinnamon fuel for filling fiber. Add more cinnamon when you serve the loaded sweet potatoes with crème fraîche and toasted sesame seeds.
Roasted Cinnamon-Rubbed Chicken
When you need a dynamic dinner, try this easy spice rub on chicken leg pieces. Cinnamon takes centerstage and ground cumin and fresh ginger play supporting roles in the zesty mix. The meat can be marinated a day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container—because who doesn't like to get ahead with prep!
Recipes by Greg Lofts; Food styling by Laura Rege; Srop styling by Suzie Myers.