Healing Kitchen

Cinnamon Power
Not only is cinnamon a wonderful addition to many foods but it may also have health benefits as well. Preliminary studies have found that cinnamon may exert considerable antimicrobial capabilities against a type of deadly food-borne bacteria that poisons approximately 20,000 Americans each year. The bacteria that cinnamon combats is one of the most dangerous strains of food-borne pathogens, E. coli 0157:H7, the cause of hemolytic uremic syndrome (kidney failure), hemorrhagic colitis, and death. The major food-related conveyance of outbreaks of E. coli are ground beef, salami, raw milk, contaminated drinking water, and unpasteurized juice.

Cinnamon, the E. coli-Killer
Unpasteurized apple cider is known to harborE. coli, and scientists recently tested cinnamon in unpasteurized apple juice that had been artificially infected with E. coli. Kansas State University Professor, Daniel Fung, Ph.D., found that the addition of cinnamon in apple juice can reduce the pathogen E. coli by 90% to 99%. When cinnamon was combined with preservatives, such as sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate, scientists were unable to detect the microbe at all. According to Fung, "our data indicated that addition of appropriate amounts of cinnamon into apple cider can reduce experimentally inoculated E. coli and can thus provide a level of protection to consumers against this pathogen (and possibly others) in liquid drinks such as apple cider, orange juices, or other juices." As investigation of the health attributes of cinnamon is still in preliminary stages, it is advisable to select pasteurized apple cider to avoid dangerous bacteria. This is particularly important for children, pregnant women, the elderly, and for those who are immune-suppressed. Other spices that are being studied for antimicrobial activities include clove, garlic, oregano, and sage.

Cinnamon as Medicine?
More studies are being conducted on cinnamon's potential antimicrobial effects on other common food-borne bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. Research on cinnamon's antibacterial action is also focusing on the bacterium that causes most ulcers, Helicobacter pylori. While cinnamon as medicine is a very sweet notion, until more research is done, it may be best to regard cinnamon as a superspice that adds a unique, distinctive flavor to food while at the same time provides some measure of protection against food-borne pathogens.

Author: Maureen Mulhern-White
Date Published: 04/10/2000
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