(Possible health benefits of cinnamon; August 2007)
Charoset, a sweet condiment composed of chopped nuts, fruit, wine, and cinnamon, is traditionally eaten at Passover as a reminder of the mortar used by Jewish slave builders in Egypt, and to help kill the taste of maror, the bitter herb discussed in Torah Flora no. 1. Charoset recipes vary greatly among Jewish communities in different countries, reflecting the ingredients locally available. Traditional components may include walnuts (northern and eastern Europe), cherry jam and coconut (Guyana), hot chili peppers (Yemen), or even brick dust (one island village in western Greece). Cinnamon is mentioned as an ingredient in the Talmud, and appears in most recipes.
Recent research suggests a health benefit to the inclusion of cinnamon. Several medical research studies have found that consuming a large dose of cinnamon together with carbohydrate-rich foods (for example, a little over a teaspoon of ground cinnamon in a bowl of rice pudding) can slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, moderating the rapid rise and fall in blood sugar level that occurs after a meal. The effect was observed in healthy subjects and in people with type 2 diabetes, but not in those with type 1 diabetes. The research has not reached the clinical stage yet, but it sounds like a good idea to pile in the cinnamon and charoset at your seder next year, especially if you are expecting to down four glasses of sweet wine or grape juice and a desert of macaroons and candy fruit slices.
You can read more about this research at the following Web site: http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSCOL07026020070620