Spice It Up
Spices, herbs and seasoning add flavor and interest to food. But did you know that many are also functional foods that add value to life? Take cinnamon, for instance. The fragrant spice harvested from the inner bark of certain Asian and Indonesian trees (Cinnamomum sp.) has been prized for centuries for the zing it provides to savory and sweet dishes alike. Cinnamon is even mentioned in the Old Testament. In the past, it was also valued for its usefulness as a food preservative, thanks to its ability to discourage the growth of bacteria and fungi. It’s long been used in traditional medicine, and modern science has shown that it possesses antiviral properties.
Cinnamon is also finding new uses as a functional food that helps maintain normal blood sugar levels. By consuming modest amounts of cinnamon, people who are pre-diabetic (meaning they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes) can prevent sharp spikes in blood glucose levels, and the insulin surges that usually follow these blood sugar oscillations. Of course, I’m not recommending you “take the cinnamon challenge.” The Internet phenomenon, chronicled on social media and video clip sites such as Youtube, involves ill-advised attempts by various people to ingest a tablespoon or more of the potent powder in one disastrous gulp.
That’s a very, very bad idea. It can leave you gasping and sputtering at best, and it may cause respiratory problems at worst. But a teaspoon or less of cinnamon added (and stirred into) some no-sugar-added applesauce can be a pleasant and effective way to help control one’s blood sugar without the need for medications.