Cinnamon and honey have a long history together. They’re delicious stirred into warm milk, and they love to jazz up a peanut butter sandwich. They even made an appearance in this green smoothie. But this duo is more than just pretty flavor: each one boasts some pretty incredible health benefits. They’ve been used together for centuries in Eastern medicine, and while no hard scientific evidence proves that they’re healthier together than apart, their sweet taste insists otherwise.
Though it sits humbly in your spice cabinet, waiting for the day you make those oatmeal raisin cookies again, cinnamon has been prized throughout the centuries as an incredibly potent, healing spice. Two teaspoons of cinnamon contain 45% of your daily requirement of manganese, an essential mineral that helps with bone health, anemia, and PMS.
The healing ability of cinnamon comes from its essential oils, which contain active components called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol. These components have been examined in various scientific studies, and cinnamon has been found to be anti-microbial, anti-fungal, a powerful antioxidant (better at preserving food than chemical preservatives!), and anti-blood clotting. It slows the rate at which food leaves your stomach, meaning that it helps control how much your blood sugar rises after eating. Sprinkling cinnamon on a piece of toast will lessen the ensuing blood sugar spike that comes from eating carbs. And a 2004 study found that just smelling cinnamon improved participants’ brain function!
You’ve probably heard that honey is good for you, but take note: it has to be quality honey. The $3 honey that comes in a plastic bear-shaped squeeze bottle has probably been processed within an inch of its life. When honey is heated and processed, it loses the phytonutrients that give it it’s anti-tumor and cancer-preventing properties, so go for raw honey—local raw honey, if you can—to reap all of its incredible benefits.
Honey, like its friend cinnamon, may help regulate blood sugar. It also boosts immunity and helps with wound healing, as it’s mildly antiseptic, and its sugars can draw water out of the wound. I always dab honey on any little cut or scratch I get to speed up the healing process. And buckwheat honey has been shown to be more effective than medicine (dextromethorphan, to be specific), when it comes to helping kids with upper respiratory infections feel better.
- Spread honey and cinnamon on toast to control spikes in blood sugar.
- Got a cold? Take a daily tablespoon of honey with ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon until you feel better.
- Sip a blend of hot water with cinnamon, honey, ginger, and cayenne to soothe a sore throat.
- Cinnamon and honey are both great for skin, so make a paste and leave it on blemishes overnight. (Not too much cinnamon, though, or your skin will get red and irritated.)
- Use both in place of sugar when you want to sweeten up a dish and still reap the health benefits.
- Keep a shaker of cinnamon by your desk, and smell it any time you need to wake up your brain!