The Christmas season is in full swing! Festive lights light up the streets and Christmas music blares wherever you go. You can’t escape the holiday cheer! Or scents! Nothing says holiday season quite like the soothing smell of cinnamon. At this time of the year, you’re likely to see cinnamon in just about everything! Cinnamon is a Christmastime staple.
Not only does this spice warm your soul with its earthy and seasonal smell and taste, but it’s actually packed with health benefits that will help your eyes stay healthy. Cinnamon is a versatile spice that can be used in all of your favorite recipes.
So while you indulge in some holiday food and most likely cheat on your diet, why not at least take care of your eyes?
Cinnamon for Your Health
This month, we have a bit of a different type of food for your vision health. Unlike our previous ingredient articles, cinnamon doesn’t directly help the eyes in the same way spinach or carrots do.
Cinnamon is great for your overall health. It helps to keep certain aspects of your body under control, which will then lead to healthier vision. Everything in the body is connected. When one part suffers, the whole body suffers. However, when one part thrives, the rest of the body thrives as well.
Cinnamon is an inexpensive and very accessible way to take proper care of your body this holiday season. We may be more inclined to neglect our health during this time of year. It isn’t difficult to lose stray from good eating habits as we hop from Christmas party to Christmas party.
This isn’t to say that sprinkling some cinnamon onto your Yule Log Cake will eliminate the effects of that amount of sugar on your body. Definitely not. Cinnamon will not counter the effects of a poor diet, but it can help to avoid a spike in blood sugar after a holiday sugar binge!
Cinnamon for Blood Sugar and Diabetes
If you suffer from diabetes, you should know cinnamon is a known blood sugar regulator. It is regularly used by type-2 diabetics to keep their blood sugar levels under control. This benefits the overall body as well as the eyes.
In addition to keeping the blood sugar levels regulated, cinnamon also helps to reduce tissue damage and inflammation related to high blood sugar levels. This then leads to a reduced risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by the inflammation of the blood vessels in the eyes. When the blood vessels become inflamed, they break and leak fluid into the eyes causing spotted vision. This can lead to complete blindness if not treated correctly. Once the vessels break, they grow back abnormally and the cycle of leakage continues.
Cinnamon plays a big role in helping to prevent diabetic retinopathy. You should be taking other preventative measures such as visiting your eye doctor twice a year for comprehensive eye exams.
Ceylon Cinnamon and Cassia Cinnamon
The major health benefit of cinnamon is the way that it regulates blood sugar. Often, cinnamon is used to help diabetics with type-2 diabetes control their disease. However, to get the full benefits, it is important that you are buying the right type of cinnamon.
There are two types of cinnamon: Ceylon and cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is also known as “true cinnamon”. It is the purest form of cinnamon and comes from Sri Lanka. Cassia cinnamon, which is the cinnamon found in most supermarkets is native to China and other parts of East Asia.
Ceylon cinnamon is more difficult to find and more expensive; however, it is the cinnamon with the most health benefits. There are numerous differences. For one, Ceylon cinnamon is sweeter than cassia and better for cooking or baking sweet dishes with.
Cassia cinnamon is also thicker than Ceylon cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon would be the thick rolled cinnamon sticks you use to stir your hot chocolate. Ceylon cinnamon is thinner and looks more like tree bark.
However, the main difference between Ceylon and cassia is a chemical called coumarin. This chemical is linked to liver failure and can be toxic in large amounts. Unfortunately, it is found in higher concentrations of cassia cinnamon, which is why Ceylon cinnamon is better for your health.
Cassia cinnamon is not dangerous in small amounts. A dash of cassia cinnamon every few days will not cause any of your organs to fail. Ceylon cinnamon is just the safe type and is more highly recommended than cassia cinnamon by experts.
Cinnamon Sugar Cookies
What’s Christmas without sugar cookies? Our Christmas recipe comes from marthastewart.com. Cinnamon sugar cookies are great for holiday parties and they make cute and affordable gifts for your friends and family.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1 stick of unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
The first step is to combine all dry ingredients (excluding the sugar) in a large bowl. In another large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the butter and sugar. Then gently beat in the egg and vanilla with the butter and sugar. Then mix the contents of both bowls together gently on a low mixing setting.
Cut the dough in half and form them into ¾ inch disks. Wrap them in plastic and stick them in the fridge for about an hour.
Once the dough has become firm, roll the disks out separately between parchment paper. Roll them to about 1/8 of an inch thick. Then use cookie cutters of your choice to cut out shapes. Or, you can do it free handed if you’ve got the artistic skills!
Preheat the oven to 325 °F and bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking.
You can even freeze the cookie dough for up to one month. The same baking procedure applies to both frozen and not frozen dough.
Just a little bit of cinnamon can go a long way. A dash of cinnamon in your coffee every morning is more than enough to reap the benefits. Don’t lose sight of your health this holiday season and spice up your cookies and Christmas treats with some cinnamon!