Health benefits of cinnamon
Aromatic and tasty, great for coffee and baked goods – Using cinnamon our food and drinks better.
But is cinnamon much more than that?
In fact, the health benefits of cinnamon can easily place the spice on the list of superfoods.
The list of potential benefits includes the ability to lower blood sugar and blood pressure. That on top of its antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-carcinogenic properties.
If this made you curious to learn more about the aromatic spice, read on to understand how cinnamon can be beneficial for your health and how to safely include it into your diet.
Does cinnamon have health benefits?
While more research needs to be conducted in order to confirm all the health benefits of cinnamon and how it can benefit people, it is safe to say that the spice is a promising antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient that you can safely incorporate into your diet.
There are several articles on the National Center for Biotechnology Information that not only list the health benefits of cinnamon but also list research studies that confirm those benefits. For example, in the Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant, the authors mention that the health benefits of cinnamon include lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, lowering the risk of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and lowering lipids. On top of that, it is mentioned that cinnamon contains compounds with antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties.
What are the health benefits of cinnamon?
Cinnamon has been used in traditional medicine for centuries but, until recently, there were no studies to confirm its wonderful medicinal properties.
Thankfully, there are more and more studies that confirm the health benefits of cinnamon.
Before thoroughly discussing the benefits of cinnamon to see how the aromatic condiment that spiced out our coffees can actually benefit our health, it is important to mention that not all cinnamon made from the bark of the Cinnamomum tree is the same.
The most common type is cassia cinnamon, also known as Chinese cinnamon due to its origins. Cassia cinnamon is what most of us use on a regular basis. But we also have ceylon cinnamon.
This type of cinnamon is created from the bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree, in India, and it has more powerful properties but it’s also less toxic because it doesn’t contain coumarin.
It’s also what is used for making cinnamon oil. While cassia cinnamon and ceylon cinnamon are slightly different in flavor and properties, they are both beneficial for our health.
Cinnamon can help fight viruses and kill bacteria
Since cinnamon has antimicrobial properties, it can fight bacteria, viruses, and fungal elements. In fact, centuries ago, the spice was oftentimes used in many food recipes to prevent food spoilage.
Moreover, cinnamon has been used to help prevent and treat seasonal cough and the common cold.
The aromatic spice helps clear out the mucus, therefore it can be very useful in lung congestion issues.
Furthermore, since cinnamon can help inhibit bacteria, it can prevent bacterial complications that are very common complications of the flu.
Cinnamon can help prevent and treat type 2 diabetes
With type 2 diabetes, blood sugar is usually high. Many people who suffer from this type of diabetes are prescribed insulin, a hormone that removes sugar from the bloodstream.
Cinnamon mimics this hormone very well. That’s why it is believed that one of the most important benefits of cinnamon is its ability to lower blood sugar.
Cinnamon doesn’t replace modern medicine in treating diabetes but it can be a great tool for managing symptoms and it works great for prevention purposes, especially for people who have a history of diabetes or insulin sensitivity in their family.
Cinnamon can help prevent and manage metabolic diseases
Since cinnamon can be effective in lowering blood sugar, it’s no surprise that it can also be used for preventing and managing the symptoms of metabolic diseases. It can be effective in fighting such as obesity, blood pressure, and dyslipidemia.
Thanks to its natural sweet taste, cinnamon can be very helpful for people with a sugar addiction because it can work as an appetite suppressant.
Lowering sugar intake helps people lose weight and become healthier overall so cinnamon is definitely a great addition in the diets of those who are looking to lose weight and give up sugar.
Cinnamon can help prevent and treat the symptoms of neurological disorders
Many neurological disorders don’t have cures. The treatment for these disorders is focused on slowing down the degenerative process and on symptom management. Both can be boosted when cinnamon is added to the regular regime.
Cinnamon was found helpful in improving the motor function and neuronal activity in people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
There are studies who found the benefits of cinnamon promising for Alzheimer’s disease because it seems the compounds found in the spice can inhibit some of the trademarks of the disease, helping people to live their life with less impediment or to prevent the disease in the first place.
Cinnamon can lower LDL (bad cholesterol)
Those who have hereditary cholesterol problems can benefit from incorporating cinnamon into their diets. Cinnamon powder consumption can lower blood glucose, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
It’s also important to note that it can raise HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which helps to reduce LDL even more.
Another important thing to mention here is that ground cinnamon can neutralize the effects of high-fat meals by slowing down the process of blood sugar increase that’s very common after this type of meal.
When ground cinnamon is added to someone’s diet, the usual and detrimental effects of high-fat foods can be lowered.
That’s not to say that if you consume cinnamon, you can eat as many fatty foods as possible without experiencing any detrimental effects on your health; it just means that you are a little bit protected against those effects and you can safely indulge from time to time.
Cinnamon may have anti-carcinogenic properties
Cinnamon is one of the superfoods known for its anti-carcinogenic properties.
Although this is great news because it means we can add this spice on the list of ingredients that can help prevent cancer, it is important to understand that cinnamon is not a cure nor a magical prevention tool.
So far, animal studies showed that cinnamon extract is capable of lowering the growth of cancer cells.
In other research reviews, it has been associated with positive effects on stomach and lung cancer but, until further research is conducted, it is important to use cinnamon only as a complementary treatment and preventative method.
Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties
Out of all the health benefits of cinnamon, this is probably the most well-known one.
Oftentimes, people who suffer from chronic diseases, experience systematic inflammation that can prevent them from living their life as they want to.
If you are one of those people, consider adding cinnamon powder to your regular diet.
Cinnamon is also a great aid for fighting migraines, headaches, and other types of pains including joint pain caused by arthritis.
Cinnamon has antioxidant properties
Another well-known fact about cinnamon is that it has powerful antioxidant properties. Adding more antioxidant foods and spices into your diet helps your body to fight against free radicals, preventing cell damage and reducing inflammation.
Cinnamon can help manage polycystic ovarian syndrome symptoms (PCOS)
There are many symptoms associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome and managing them is a challenge more often than not.
One of the most common problems caused by PCOS is weight gain because many women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome have insulin resistance.
Cinnamon consumption can help regulate blood sugar but also help women with PCOS cut down on sugar and live healthier lives.
Additionally, including the spice into a regular diet can help regulate the menstrual cycle and mitigate heavy bleeding in women diagnosed with PCOS, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and other female health problems.
Cinnamon can improve eye health
Not many people know this but cinnamon is actually very helpful in the treatment of eye disorders like dry eye or conjunctivitis. Cinnamon and other herbs and spices are common ingredients in medication that is usually prescribed for these conditions.
Can cinnamon help lose belly fat?
With so many diets and tricks for losing weight that appear overnight, it’s hard to know what actually works.
Except for a healthy diet and regular exercise, of course. Nevertheless, it is understandable that people are looking to find some type of boost to help them lose weight and stay on track with a healthy lifestyle.
Thankfully, with cinnamon, you don’t have to worry about unwanted health problems and side effects that are hard to keep under control. If you consume cinnamon in moderate amounts, the ancient spice can give you the necessary boost to change and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
It can also help you lose some belly fat in the process because cinnamon suppresses the appetite, lowers blood sugar, helps you to quit sugar, and speeds up the metabolism.
How to incorporate cinnamon into your diet?
From supplements to tea, there are many ways to incorporate cinnamon into your diet. Obviously, the easiest way is to add it to your food or daily beverages.
Ideally, you would make those foods yourself instead of buying them at the grocery store.
Granted, there are many snacks and sweet treats that have the spice on the ingredients list but not all of them are healthy.
So it’s best to make your own coffee and spice it up with some cinnamon or bake something healthy with cinnamon flavors.
Other ways to incorporate cinnamon into your diet and life:
- Make cinnamon tea – all you have to do is boil cinnamon sticks in the water. You can add honey and lemon to make the tea taste better
- Drink cinnamon water – add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon or boil cinnamon sticks in water. Have this drink throughout the day or before going to bed
- Spice up your protein shakes or fruit smoothies
- Spice up your breakfast cereal bowl
- Massage painful joints with cinnamon oil
Is a teaspoon of cinnamon a day good for you?
If you’re wondering how much cinnamon you should take, there really isn’t a strict dose set by experts considering many studies are still ongoing.
However, many doctors and dieticians recommend up to 6 grams of cinnamon per day. This means half a teaspoon or a teaspoon of cinnamon a day is a safe dose that will give you all the cinnamon benefits.
Like with any other thing, high doses can be toxic so don’t take more than the experts recommend and make sure you stop taking it if you notice any unwanted side effects.
Possible side effects of cinnamon
Despite being natural and safe in general, there are side effects of cinnamon consumptions you should be aware of before incorporating it into your daily diet. The most common side effects are:
It goes without saying that people who are allergic to cinnamon should not take cinnamon supplements or add cinnamon to their foods. Cinnamon can cause irritation and redness to the skin and it can also cause sores and irritation around the mouth and lips in higher dosages.
People who experience allergic reactions should stop taking cinnamon immediately and talk to their doctor.
Cinnamon can lower blood sugar
While, generally speaking, this is a good thing and it can help prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease, consuming too much cinnamon can cause the blood sugar levels to fall too low, causing hypoglycemia. The most common symptoms of hypoglycemia are dizziness, tiredness, and, sometimes, fainting.
If you have diabetes and you take medication to keep your blood sugar levels under control, you should be careful with cinnamon because it can enhance the effects of the medication.
Cinnamon may interact with certain drugs
Small and moderate amounts of cinnamon are ok with most drugs. However, as we discussed for blood sugar, cinnamon can enhance the effects of some medications, which can lead to undesirable results. Those who take medication for heart disease, blood pressure or liver disease should be wary of this side effect.
Cinnamon can cause liver damage in high amounts
Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin in high amounts. A high dosage of this compound can lead to liver toxicity. If you have liver problems, it is best to avoid high doses of cinnamon. Furthermore, you should monitor your cinnamon intake when you take medication that can affect the liver, such as acetaminophen and paracetamol.
Cinnamon can cause breathing problems if inhaled
Cinnamon has a fine texture that makes it easy to inhale and people who suffer from asthma or any other respiratory problem should be particularly careful with cinnamon. Accidental inhaling of cinnamon can cause difficulty breathing and coughing.
The bottom line is there are many benefits associated with cinnamon but it is best to restrict your cinnamon intake to small to moderate dosages and monitor your body’s reactions to be sure you avoid the unwanted side effects.