Before fridges and freezers had been invented, they would flavour their foods heavily with spices partly as a way to preserve them. In medieval times cinnamon was a hugely popular ingredient because of this reason. It contains cinnamaldehyde, which has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Cinnamomum verum is from Sri Lanka, and is taken from the tree bark, which is peeled off and laid out in the hot sun to dry, where it rolls up into its familiar sticks. It is packed with antioxidants which help boost the body’s natural immune system.
Be careful to buy Cinnamomum verum (the Sri Lankan variety) rather than Cinnamomum cassia. Real cinnamon is flakier, and has lots and lots of thin layers. Cassia has a very thick coarse layer, with a hollow centre. It’s used to help regulate blood pressure and treat people with Type 2 diabetes.
HOW TO USE IT: Try ginger tea with cinnamon to pep you up, spinkle onto cereal to sweeten up a dish without using sugar and making cinnamon buns – yum! Its essential oil is said to have mood-boosting properties, use one or two drops diluted in a diffuser to scent your home.