Julia Mirabella is a Washington, D.C. based attorney who grew up enjoying Italian food. When the time came to pack her own lunches for the office, she began designing portable, delicious Mediterranean salads. In her book, Mason Jar Salads and More: 50 Layered Lunches to Grab and Go, she showcases tasty layered meals that fit easily in a wide-mouth jars.
You may be surprised to know that most of the “cinnamon” sold in Europe and North America is actually not cinnamon at all. It is a similar spice more properly known as cassia, and it does not provide the valuable health benefits of Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean. Cassia, sometimes called Chinese cinnamon or Saigon cinnamon, is grown primarily in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Japan and Korea.
Cinnamon has been used for thousands of years to seas food and for its medicinal qualities. Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon in their embalming rituals. The Emperor Nero showed his devotion to his late wife by having a year’s supply of cinnamon burned on her funeral pyre.
There are several differences between the two cinnamons. Ceylon cinnamon costs more and is more difficult to find. It is more refined, lighter and sweeter than cassia, and it is a better choice for use in sweet desserts. The heaver cassia cinnamon is suited to savory dishes.
A more important difference, however, is the level of coumarin, a natural compound that functions as a blood thinner when ingested. Cassia has a much higher level of coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon. In fact, patients on blood thinning medications such as warfarin are encouraged to limit their intake of cinnamon, but this applies much more to cassia than real cinnamon.
Both kinds of cinnamon are very good sources of manganese, a trace mineral essential to healthy bones and the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. They are both rich in dietary fiber, iron and calcium. Fiber and calcium work together to lower the likelihood of colon cancer, reduce cholesterol levels, and relieve constipation and diarrhea.
Here are six reasons to eat the real cinnamon, every day:
1. It lowers blood sugar levels. – Cinnamon normalizes blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics by reducing insulin resistance. Less than half a teaspoon a day reduces blood sugar levels.
2. It improves heart health. – A research study completed in 2003 found that type 2 diabetic subjects who ate between one and six grams of cinnamon (about 2 teaspoons) daily for 40 days lowered their blood sugar levels by 18 – 29 percent, and also reduced triglycerides by 23 to 30 percent, their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 7 to 27 percent, and their total cholesterol by 12 to 26 percent.
3. It assists in blood clotting. – Extensive research has shown cinnamon supports the healthy clotting of blood platelets.
4. It fights bacteria and fungus – Ayurvedic medicine prizes cinnamon for its anti-microbial qualities. Cinnamon fights not just bacteria, but also viruses, fungi and Candida.
5. It boosts memory and protects the brain.- The simple act of smelling cinnamon, or chewing cinnamon flavored gum, improves brain activity. Research shows it improves memory attention, and cognition.
6. It improves digestion. – Traditional Chinese medicine uses cinnamon for flatulence, nausea and diarrhea. It supports digestion of fruit and dairy products.
Although both cassia and Ceylon cinnamon offer some health benefits, spend a little extra month and get the real thing. You will notice it is a lighter shade of brown, a finer texture and a sweeter scent – and it is work the extra expenditure of time and money.
If you’re a fan of Indian food, you are probably familiar with turmeric. This bright orange herb gives curry its vibrant color, and it is used in most Indian dishes. What you may not know is that Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, uses turmeric as a medicinal ingredient.
According to a recent article by Joseph Mercola, M.D., animal-based omega-3 fats are critical for heart health. Dr. Mercola believes maintaining a sufficient level of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may be one of the most important nutritional priorities. People need both DHA, a 22 carbon omega-3, and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), an 18-carbon omega-3 fat. Both plant and animal omega-3 fats are important, but the DHA present in seafood is the type most associated with heart health and other vital health benefits.
You’ve decided to embark on a vegetarian lifestyle. Congratulations! Whether you are hoping to lose weight and improve your health, to protect the environment, or because you are an ally of animals, it’s a great choice.
The importance of vitamin D is often overlooked, not just by average people, but also by physicians. Extensive research has shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and a number of serious health problems. As you monitor your own health, ask your doctor to order a blood test to assess your vitamin D level. If you are deficient, make a plan to get your D up to an optimal level. Your health depends on it!
If you’re throwing a backyard party this summer, you know your guests will be excited about a red, ripe watermelon. But after the melon is cut and served, don’t thrown away those seeds! In an earlier article, we highlighted 10 healthy benefits of watermelon seeds, which are surprisingly packed with nutrients. But there are more – in fact, here are 10 more health benefits of watermelon seeds.
Nothing says summer more than cutting into a ripe watermelon. The sweet red flesh of the fruit is the main attraction, but few people realize the value of watermelon seeds. Those are rich in fatty acids, essential proteins, and minerals.
Magnesium is the most important mineral in the human body. Experts say that after oxygen, water and basic food, magnesium is the element most critical to health. Magnesium is more necessary than calcium, potassium or sodium, and in fact, it regulates all three of those.
People have been cultivating bananas for thousands of years. Many primates eat the whole banana, including the peel. Although people in the West generally throw the peel away, people in some Asian countries consume the peels, which are usually cooked. Banana peels are not nearly as sweet as the fruit’s flesh, but they are rich in nutrients such as potassium.