29 Aug

Cinnamon, the ‘new’ super-spice

Category: Parrots Blog

Cinnamon sticksby Pauline James

The health benefits of cinnamon are so powerful that even just smelling it enhances the mental and physical wellbeing of humans and parrots!

Cinnamon is one of the oldest known spices and is mentioned in the bible, was used in Chinese medicine centuries ago, and the ancient Egyptians used it as a flavouring, medicine and embalming agent, and considered this spice more precious than gold.  And, although we know it mainly as a baking ingredient, cinnamon is now making a come-back as a super-spice and powerful alternative medicine.

This aromatic, sweet-tasting and warming spice has been credited with boosting brain performance and memory function, lowering LDL cholesterol levels, being anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, and is also antimicrobial, inhibiting the growth of bacteria and fungi, especially persistent yeast infections such as Candida, that vitamin-A deficient parrots can be prone to.

Cinnamon promotes a healthy colon, regulates blood sugar, reduces the proliferation of leukaemia and lymphoma cancer cells, has an anti-clotting effect on the blood, and provides rapid relief from arthritis.  This spice is also a natural food preservative, with greater potency than most chemical alternatives, and effectively inhibits the growth of the Bacillus cereus pathogen, and E-coli, especially useful when providing eggfood or unpasteurised fruit juices for your parrots.

As a food, cinnamon is an excellent source of manganese, soluble and non-soluble fibre, calcium, fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and other minerals.  It is also iron-rich so its use should be carefully regulated and should not be fed with other iron-rich foods.  Just half a teaspoonful of cinnamon a day benefits humans.

There are around 100 varieties of cinnamon, and all possess three unique healing components cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, plus many other volatile substances, in essential oils found in the brown bark of the cinnamon tree.  When cut into rectangular pieces and dried, the bark curls up to form a quill, or cinnamon stick.  Kept in a tightly-sealed glass container, in the fridge, it will stay fresh for up to three years.

It is important that cinnamon is fresh and organic, and has not been weakened by the effects of irradiation or chemical processing, leading to a significant reduction in its benefits, and in particular its vitamin C and carotenoid content.  Freshly-ground cinnamon, that has an even stronger and sweeter fragrance, remains fresh and aromatic for just six months.

Parrots absolutely love crunching and nibbling on aromatic cinnamon bark, available in 2-3in long ‘sticks,’ and is found alongside other spices in most supermarkets or health shops.  Alternatively, sprinkle ground cinnamon on their fresh food, or offer on a small piece of wholemeal toast, that has first been drizzled with omega-3-rich flaxseed oil.

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