Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree. Ceylon cinnamon originates from Sri Lanka, India, and Myanmar. The more common Cassia cinnamon is grown in China, Southeast Asia, and Indonesia and can be found in the spice section of any supermarket.

This flavorful spice is most often used in baking and desserts, but traditional Chinese and Indian medicine has relied on cinnamon’s health benefits for thousands of years. Cinnamon is valued as a treatment for diabetes and gastrointestinal problems.

Health Benefits

The vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds in cinnamon can provide important health benefits.

Cinnamon contains potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Potassium helps to counteract sodium’s effect on blood pressure and regulates the heart rate. Potassium is also involved in nerve function. 

Magnesium and calcium work together to maintain a healthy heartbeat. These two minerals are essential for skeletal health, preventing the weakening of bones, a condition called osteoporosis.

In addition, cinnamon can provide other health benefits like:

Anti- Inflammation

Cinnamon is an effective anti-inflammatory. Researchers tested the phytochemicals found in cinnamon and discovered antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In one study, certain cinnamon compounds also targeted free radicals with promising results. 

Diabetes Control

Cinnamon has proven anti-inflammatory effects, which can help prevent the development of diabetes, but it has other protective effects as well. Cinnamon has the ability to improve insulin resistance, lower glucose levels, and reverse oxidative damage. Because of this, many scientists believe it could help treat Type 2 diabetes or even prevent its initial development.

Cancer Prevention

Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels induced by tumor growth. One of the keys to successfully battling cancer is the interruption of angiogenesis (the process in which new blood vessels form from pre-existing ones). A study showed that cinnamon inhibits angiogenesis, cell proliferation, and cellular signaling. This suggests that cinnamon could be a powerful weapon in preventing or treating cancer.

Antibiotic Properties

The compound cinnamaldehyde is responsible for cinnamon’s distinct odor and flavor. This phytochemical also has proven widespread antibiotic effects. Cinnamaldehyde was tested against several bacteria and viruses, including staphylococcus, E. coli, salmonella, and candida. Researchers found that it was able to effectively prevent these bacteria’s growth.

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Nutrition

Cinnamon offers many nutrition benefits from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s known to help prevent conditions like heart disease or cancer. A serving of cinnamon is an excellent source of:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus

Nutrients per Serving

One teaspoon of cinnamon contains:

Portion Sizes

It’s safe to eat a normal amount of cinnamon each day, which is about a teaspoon of powder. However, because there is no specific dosage recommendation for cinnamon, it’s important to remember that a high intake could be dangerous. Cinnamon contains coumarin which in high quantities can harm your liver and increase the risk of developing cancer.

How to Use Cinnamon

You can usually find cinnamon in the baking section at most grocery stores and supermarkets. It is often available rolled in sticks or already ground into a fine powder. Ground cinnamon has many uses and adds flavor to savory dishes as well as sweet desserts.

Many people enjoy cinnamon sticks in warm beverages like hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and mulled wine. You can also add them to pickling brine and fruit compotes. And many ethnic recipes for stews, sauces, and marinades call for cinnamon’s unique taste. 

Mix some cinnamon with sugar, then sprinkle it on buttered toast. It can also be a delicious topping for sweet potatoes. Or, you can use it to spice up plain yogurt or your morning coffee. Simply combine two teaspoons of cinnamon into one cup of granulated sugar and keep it in a sealed container.

Try making an apple cinnamon oatmeal topping.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add apple and cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring regularly. Add sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Cook for one minute more or until the sugar is dissolved. Pour apple mixture over prepared oatmeal.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 08, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Assumption University: “Spice Production in Asia - An Overview”

Bollettino Chimico Farmaceutico: “Antioxidant activity of cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, Breyne) extracts.”

Britannica: “Cinnamon.”

Cancers: Coumarins and Coumarin-Related Compounds in Pharmacotherapy of Cancer.”

Carcinogenesis: “Novel angiogenesis inhibitory activity in cinnamon extract blocks VEGFR2 kinase and downstream signaling.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “Spice, Cinnamon, Ground.”

Food and Function: “Anti-inflammatory activity of cinnamon (C. zeylanicum and C. cassia) extracts - identification of E-cinnamaldehyde and o-methoxy cinnamaldehyde as the most potent bioactive compounds.”

Frost & Sullivan: “OSTEOPOROSIS AND THE BENEFITS OF USING CALCIUM, VITAMIN D, AND MAGNESIUM.”

Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology: “Cinnamon: Potential Role in the Prevention of Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Cinnamon.”

National Institutes of Health: “Potassium.”

USDA: “CINNAMON.”

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