Q:

The Best Anti-Inflammatory Spices: Cinnamon

I've heard that inflammation is bad for me and can hurt my sports performance. Why is that, and is there an easy way to keep inflammation down?

Cinnamon extract should not be overlooked for its anti-inflammatory powers. Via Shutterstock     Photo: Danicek

A:What it is: Cinnamon comes from the bark of cinnamon trees, which grow in China, India, and Southeast Asia. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, cinnamon has often been used to treat bronchitis and gastrointestinal issues.

A recent study found that cinnamon extract helped suppress inflammation of the colon in mice, leading researchers to say that cinnamon extract may have significant anti-inflammatory effects in humans. The NCCAM, however, doesn’t recommend taking in more than six grams daily for more than six weeks, as some people may be allergic to cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon (a.k.a. Chinese cinnamon) should also be used in moderation, containing compounds similar to those found in blood thinners.

How to use it: While cinnamon extract is sold in tablet and liquid form, powdered cinnamon is a tasty addition to a number of foods. Try sprinkling it on apples, in oatmeal, in a smoothie, or on sweet potatoes for some extra flavor.

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