Tuesday, February 14, 2023

7 Health Benefits of Cinnamon

 This popular spice can help regulate blood sugar, improve heart health, and more. Cinnamon is synonymous with fall and winter. It is a popular spice, often used in recipes like pies, mulled cider, and cookies. On top of that, it’s one of the most recognized scents of the season. However, the spice is beneficial beyond the happy, homey feeling it gives you when you catch a whiff. Used as a seasoning in food and as a supplement or medicinally, the health benefits of cinnamon extend from your brain to your heart and immune system.

What are the health benefits of cinnamon?

1. Anti-inflammatory properties

Cinnamon is a good source of antioxidants, which people consume to stay healthier since “oxidative stress can cause a number of health issues ranging from fatigue, to inflammation, to full blown disease,” says Mahmud Kara, MD, a functional medicine physician specializing in digestive and heart health. Many superfoods contain antioxidants—and cinnamon falls into this category.

Because it is an antioxidant, cinnamon can bring down inflammation in the body, which can keep you healthier overall and prevent injury and illness. So, by increasing the flavor profile in your food, you are also increasing your ability to ward off disease.

2. Blood glucose regulation

Cinnamon consumption has been linked to improvements regarding blood sugar regulation. “Cinnamon has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for both diabetics and those who are at risk for developing diabetes,” says Dev Batra, MD, an interventional radiologist in Dallas, Texas. Being able to improve insulin sensitivity and stop diabetes before it begins is a big benefit for one small spice.

The benefits don’t stop there. “Some studies have suggested that cinnamon slows down the breakdown of carbohydrates after eating and may even mimic the effects of insulin which in turn can help combat insulin resistance, regulate blood sugar levels, and may even reduce the risk for developing diseases like Type 2 diabetes,” says Dr. Kara.

Because of the positive effect on blood sugar stabilization and as a possible replacement for insulin, cinnamon is good for kidney function. “Cinnamon may help prevent damage to the kidneys caused by too much sugar in the bloodstream if the kidneys are unable to filter out sugar or lessen the demand to ‘work’ that the kidneys experience with blood sugar spikes,” explains Dr. Kara. Something as simple as adding a few shakes from a cinnamon spice jar to your morning coffee might make a big difference in your overall body’s functioning.

3. Digestion

Cinnamon is delicious, sure, but it can actually help you digest your food better. Cinnamon, among other spices like pepper and ginger, enhances growth of bacteria found in prebiotics, which are good for aiding in your digestion. The bacteria in these prebiotics help restore gut health, which can alleviate any ongoing or acute digestive issues.

4. Blood pressure

Though the clinical effects are limited, studies have shown that consuming cinnamon can lower your blood pressure. They have also studied this effect on people with prediabetes and diabetes. The importance of low blood pressure is that heart attack and stroke are more common in patients with high blood pressure, so keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range is very important for your overall health.

5. Triglycerides

Scientists hypothesized that cinnamon would lower cholesterol, but when it was studied, the results were not crystal clear. LDL and HDL cholesterol measurements did not seem to be affected by incorporating cinnamon.

However, cinnamon supplements reduced blood triglycerides, the fat in blood. High triglycerides  increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as contributes to the measurement of total cholesterol concentrations.

Heart health

Putting together all the ways cinnamon helps the body, one major benefit is heart health. Dr. Kara says, “recent research has connected cinnamon to reduced blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and blood sugar regulation all of which can help reduce the risk for heart disease.” Since heart disease is a major cause of death, preventing it with cinnamon is a pretty big win. Of course, other health-promoting behaviors are also important, such as eating a balanced diet that includes foods besides cinnamon, and getting regular exercise.

7. Brain health

Again, because of its polyphenols, cinnamon’s antioxidant powers may help with cognitive function since, “oxidative stress and inflammation can worsen cognitive-related conditions and interfere with normal central nervous system functioning,” says Dr. Kara. Cinnamon consumption can keep your brain operating at the same level for longer into your lifespan.

In fact, not only can cinnamon keep your mind where it is currently, cinnamon might even be able to improve the way your mind works. “Additionally, cinnamon … can help boost cognitive function and memory,” says Dr. Batra. In other words, cinnamon might make you smarter.

 In terms of specific neurological and degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, some research shows that cinnamon can have a positive effect on curbing the onset or progression of these as well. “Cinnamon may help protect certain neurons and chemical messengers in the brain for better cognitive health and reduced risk of cognitive-related disease,” Dr. Kara explains. Being able to have peace of mind that your risk of brain disease is lower due to your dietary choices is a nice benefit to eating a pleasant spice.

What type of cinnamon is best for health benefits?

Cinnamon is a spice derived from the inner bark of several different types of cinnamon trees. You may be overwhelmed by the number of options for buying cinnamon at grocery stores, as there are four main types of cinnamon, which are available in several forms:

Indonesian cinnamon: This is the most common and least expensive variety of cinnamon powder available.

Vietnamese cinnamon: This type of cinnamon is known for high cinnamaldehyde levels, the flavonoid that gives cinnamon its scent and flavor.

Cassia or Chinese cinnamon: Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, a compound that can be harmful in large quantities. “Some studies have found that too much coumarin can increase the risk for certain diseases and may harm the liver,” says Dr. Kara. For this reason, Ceylon cinnamon is the preferred variety. Cassia is less expensive and more widely available.

Ceylon or Mexican cinnamon (also known as true cinnamon or cinnamomum zeylanicum): This is the preferred variety for cooking and supplementation because it has the lowest coumarin levels. However, it is also the most expensive.

Usually the type of cinnamon will be labeled on the packaging, however, Ceylon cinnamon is easy to differentiate from the others because, in its “stick” form, it’s rolled in layers and, both as a stick and ground, is lighter and softer in color.

The different types of cinnamon are also available in different forms: ground cinnamon, cinnamon oil, and cinnamon extract.

Dr. Kara suggests, when purchasing, “Try to stick with cinnamon in its organic form rather than purchasing products like cinnamon sugar spices, cinnamon teas with added sugars, or refined products that are flavored with cinnamon.” Getting it as close to its source will ensure you’re getting cinnamon that will help you benefit from its healthy properties.

How to incorporate cinnamon into your life

In terms of how much cinnamon to have in order to reap the benefits of this spice, it depends on a variety of factors including your own personal taste, health, and other medical conditions. In addition, the method in which you are ingesting it matters as to how much of a health benefit you’d be getting.


“The amount of cinnamon you should take depends on the condition you are trying to treat,” Dr. Batra says. “For example, if you are trying to lower your blood sugar, you may need to take 1-6 grams of cinnamon per day. If you are trying to improve your kidney health, you may need to take 2-4 grams of cinnamon per day.” The median amount seems like about three grams, which is about a teaspoon a day.

However, you may need to adjust your dosage to suit your body and needs. Dr. Kara says, “Every person is different when it comes to the way their body processes certain compounds and how much of that compound the body can handle; therefore, the amount of cinnamon that you need for certain health benefits depends on the individual.” It’s a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider if you’re trying to target a specific health issue rather than simply improve overall health.

Side effects

Signs of too much cinnamon include: diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Since it doesn’t have stimulant or depressant effects, you can have cinnamon at any time of day, whether it’s in your morning oatmeal or in your evening tea. It will neither wake you up, nor put you to sleep, though many people find it soothing. Dr. Kara says, “Some research has suggested that cinnamon can help increase melatonin levels and decrease norepinephrine levels (i.e., ‘fight or flight’ chemicals that stimulate the central nervous system) which in turn can help promote more restful, quality sleep.” Note that this study used cinnamon extract. If you find the effects of cinnamon help you rest, by all means, incorporate it into your bedtime routine.

Recipe ideas 

In terms of cooking with cinnamon, the possibilities are endless. Many people bake with cinnamon, incorporating it into desserts and breakfast foods. Cinnamon is also in a variety of savory dishes and often brings out the flavors of other spices. 

In beverages, you can use powdered cinnamon in your coffee or tea or use cinnamon sticks. There’s nothing more festive than a cider or cocoa with cinnamon sticks. However, you can also get a tincture made from cinnamon to get a more concentrated amount to put into beverages like tea. 


Cinnamon supplements are another option. As with any medication, vitamin, or supplement, always speak with your healthcare provider when adding something new to your routine to make sure it is not contraindicated with any of your existing medications or health conditions. Large amounts of cinnamon may interact with diabetes, liver, or heart medications. 

Other health considerations 

During pregnancy, avoid ingesting large amounts of cinnamon and always talk to your healthcare provider about any additional supplements or dietary changes such as adding in a larger amount of cinnamon for health reasons.
Some people are allergic to cinnamon, especially if it makes contact with their skin. However, it is a rare allergy. 

Additionally, because of the powdery texture of cinnamon, it can cause coughing or throat irritation if consumed in large amounts or inhaled. A few years ago, a viral trend called the “Cinnamon Challenge” caused several people to be hospitalized with lung damage. Inhaling cinnamon on purpose or accidentally can even trigger an asthma attack, which can be very dangerous.

Source : Here


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