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10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Authority Nutrition   December 6, 2014

Cinnamon is a highly delicious spice. It has been prized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years.

Modern science has now confirmed what people have instinctively known for ages. Here are 10 health benefits of cinnamon that are supported by scientific research.

1. Cinnamon is High in a Substance With Powerful Medicinal Properties

Cinnamon is a spice that is made from the inner bark of trees called Cinnamomum.

It has been used as an ingredient throughout history, dating back as far as Ancient Egypt. It used to be rare and valuable, and was regarded as a gift fit for kings.

These days, cinnamon is cheap, available in every supermarket and found in all sorts of foods and recipes.

There are two main types of cinnamon:

  • Ceylon cinnamon: Also known as “true” cinnamon.
  • Cassia cinnamon: This is the more common variety today, what people generally refer to as “cinnamon.”

Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of the cinnamomum tree. The inner bark is then extracted and the woody parts removed from it.

When it dries, it forms strips that curl into rolls, called cinnamon sticks. The sticks can be ground to form cinnamon powder.

The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon is due to the oily part, which is very high in a compound called cinnamaldehyde.

It is this compound that is responsible for most of cinnamon’s powerful effects on health and metabolism.

Bottom Line: Cinnamon is a popular spice. It is high in a substance called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for most of the health benefits.

2. Cinnamon is Loaded With Antioxidants

Antioxidants protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols.

In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, cinnamon wound up as the clear winner, even outranking “superfoods” like garlic and oregano.

In fact, it is so powerful that cinnamon can be used as a natural food preservative.

Bottom Line: Cinnamon contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants.

3. Cinnamon Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Inflammation in the body is incredibly important. It helps the body fight infections and repair tissue damage.

However, inflammation can become a problem when it is chronic (long-term) and directed against the body’s own tissues.

Cinnamon may be useful in this regard, because some studies show that the antioxidants in it have potent anti-inflammatory activity.

Bottom Line: The antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help lower the risk of disease.

4. Cinnamon May Cut the Risk of Heart Disease

Cinnamon has been linked with reduced risk of heart disease, the world’s most common cause of premature death.

In people with type 2 diabetes, 1 gram of cinnamon per day has beneficial effects on blood markers.

It reduces levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while HDL cholesterol remains stable.

More recently, a big review study concluded that a cinnamon dose of just 120 milligrams per day can have these effects. In this study, cinnamon also increased HDL (the “good”) cholesterol.

In animal studies, cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood pressure.

When combined, all these factors may drastically cut the risk of heart disease.

Bottom Line: Cinnamon can improve some key risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.

5. Cinnamon Can Improve Sensitivity to The Hormone Insulin

Insulin is one of the key hormones that regulate metabolism and energy use.

It is also essential for the transport of blood sugar from the bloodstream and into cells.

The problem is that many people are resistant to the effects of insulin.

This condition, known as insulin resistance, is a hallmark of serious conditions like metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Well, the good news is that cinnamon can dramatically reduce insulin resistance, helping this incredibly important hormone to do its job.

By helping insulin do its job, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels, which brings us to the next point…

Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to significantly increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin.

6. Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Has a Powerful Anti-Diabetic Effect

Cinnamon is well known for its blood sugar lowering effects.

Apart from the beneficial effects on insulin resistance, cinnamon can lower blood sugar by several other mechanisms.

First, cinnamon has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal.

It does this by interfering with numerous digestive enzymes, which slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract.

Second, a compound in cinnamon can act on cells by mimicking insulin.

This greatly improves glucose uptake by cells, although it acts much slower than insulin itself.

Numerous human trials have confirmed the anti-diabetic effects of cinnamon, showing that it can lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 10-29%.

The effective dose is typically 1-6 grams of cinnamon per day (around 0.5-2 teaspoons).

Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to both reduce fasting blood sugar levels, having a potent anti-diabetic effect at 1 to 6 grams per day.


7. Cinnamon May Have Beneficial Effects on Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by progressive loss of the structure or function of brain cells.

Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are two of the most common types.

Two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

In a study looking at mice with Parkinson’s disease, cinnamon helped to protect neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels and improve motor function.

These effects need to be studied further in humans.

Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to lead to various improvements for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease in animal studies.

8. Cinnamon May Be Protective Against Cancer

Cancer is a serious disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.

Cinnamon has been widely studied for its potential use in cancer prevention and treatment.

Overall, the evidence is limited to test tube experiments and animal studies, which suggest that cinnamon extracts may protect against cancer.

It acts by reducing the growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels in tumors, and appears to be toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death.

A study in mice with colon cancer revealed cinnamon to be a potent activator of detoxifying enzymes in the colon, protecting against further cancer growth.

These findings were supported by test tube experiments, which showed that cinnamon activates protective antioxidant responses in human colon cells.

Whether cinnamon has any effect in living, breathing humans needs to be confirmed in controlled trials.

Bottom Line: Animal studies and test tube experiments indicate that cinnamon may have protective effects against cancer.

9. Cinnamon Helps Fight Bacterial and Fungal Infections

Cinnamaldehyde, the main active component of cinnamon, may help fight various kinds of infection.

Cinnamon oil has been shown to effectively treat respiratory tract infections caused by fungi.

It can also inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, including Listeria and Salmonella.

The antimicrobial effects of cinnamon may also help prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath.

Bottom Line: Cinnamaldehyde has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which may reduce infections and help fight tooth decay and bad breath.

10. Cinnamon May Help Fight The HIV Virus

HIV is a virus that slowly breaks down the immune system, which can eventually lead to AIDS if untreated.

Cinnamon extracted from Cassia varieties is thought to help fight against HIV-1.

This is the most common strain of the HIV virus in humans.

A laboratory study looking at HIV infected cells found that cinnamon was the most effective treatment of all 69 medicinal plants studied.

Human trials are needed to confirm these effects.

Bottom Line: Test tube studies have shown that cinnamon can help fight HIV-1, the main type of HIV virus in humans.

It is Better to Use Ceylon (“True” Cinnamon)

Not all cinnamon is created equal.

The Cassia variety contains significant amounts of a compound called coumarin, which is believed to be harmful in large doses.

All cinnamon should have health benefits, but Cassia may cause problems in large doses due to the coumarin content.

Ceylon (“true” cinnamon) is much better in this regard, and studies show that it is much lower in coumarin than the Cassia variety .

Unfortunately, most cinnamon found in supermarkets is the cheaper Cassia variety.

You may be able to find Ceylon in some health food stores, and there is a good selection on Amazon.

Take Home Message

At the end of the day, cinnamon is one of the most delicious and healthiest spices on the planet.

It can lower blood sugar levels, reduce heart disease risk factors, and has a plethora of other impressive health benefits.

Just make sure to get Ceylon cinnamon, or stick to small doses (no more than 0.5-2 teaspoons a day) if you’re using the Cassia variety.

Joe Leech, Authority Nutrition.

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10 Reasons To Add Cinnamon To Your Diet

The delectable spice has amazing healing propensities you may not be aware of.

August 27, 2014 

Many of us love to sprinkle cinnamon over our toast, drink it in our beverages, devour it in pastry desserts and cook with it for aromatic flavor, but did you know this exotic spice which comes from the dried inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree has been used medicinally since ancient times due to its healing propensities.  In fact, cinnamon is one of the most common and popular ingredients in homeopathic medicine today, treating everything from muscle spasms and vomiting to loss of appetite and erectile dysfunction.

Yet, the veracity of its health benefits continue to be hotly debated in medical circles, particularly over an ingredient called coumarin which has been linked to liver damage in a small number of people when taken in high dosages.  What’s more, there has been no consensus over what are ‘safe’ levels for consumption or which variety is more beneficial.  Consequently, the FDA has yet to approve the use of the spice for medical purposes.

Nonetheless, there have been dozens of promising medical studies illustrating that when taken in moderation, cinnamon offers a variety of health benefits that make it well worth adding to your diet.  So here’s a list of 10 scientifically backed reasons why it’s time for you to spice up your life with some sassy cinnamon.

1. Controls Blood Sugar Levels. Research shows cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels in those who have Type 2 diabetes and may prevent insulin resistance. In fact, a 2003 study found that cinnamon improved glucose and lipid levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes and reduced risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. Cassia cinnamon, found in the grocery store, was determined to be more effective than the Ceylon variety in as far as controlling blood sugar levels even though Ceylon was considered safer because it has far less coumarin. Yet, whether Ceylon offers the same health benefits to diabetic patients remain inconclusive.

2.  Delays Effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s Disease is a neurological disorder affecting almost 5 million people over the age of 65 in the United States. While no cure has been found to date, an Israeli study conducted at Tel Aviv University found that cinnamon can delay the effects of five aggressive strains of Alzheimer’s inducing genes.  According to one of the authors, an extract found in cinnamon bark has healing properties that can inhibit developing the disease.  More research reveals orally administered cinnamon extracts can correct cognitive impairment in the diseases in animal models.

The most recent study in 2013 by two scientists at UC Santa Barbara found that two compounds in cinnamon – cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin — are effective in delaying the onset and warding off the effects of Alzheimer’s by preventing the “development of filamentous ‘tangles’ found in the brain cells that characterize the disease.”

3. Fights Yeast and Fungal Infections. According to the National Institute of Health, a chemical found in cassia cinnamon may help fight fungal and bacterial infections. Studies have also shown that cinnamaldehyde found in cinnamon has a remarkable ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections. A medical study in 2011 found that cinnamon oil was one of three essential oils effective in fighting Candida while another study found it was effective against three strains of candida, Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, and Candida krusei which commonly cause yeast infections, Cinnamon Vogue reported.

4. Prevents Foodborne Illness. Cinnamon it is said to be one of the most effective oils for killing off E-coli and salmonella because it has anti-microbial properties. In fact, a recent 2014 study found that in 24 hours, concentrated cassia cinnamon oil successfully killed several strains of Shiga toxin-producing E-coli which causes about 110,000 cases of foodborne illness every year. The authors concluded that it has the potential to be used as a natural antibacterial agent in the food industry.

Another scientific report found that a concentration of 2 microl/ml of essential oils including cinnamon mixed in apple and pear juice was enough to inactivate Salmonella Enteritidis, E. coli, and Listeria. Likewise, cinnamon oil was found to be a promising force to fight hospital-acquired infections like the deadly Staphylococcus aureus or MSRA.

5. May Combat Infertility. A small study this year found that cinnamon might jumpstart a woman’s menstrual cycle which would help fight infertility.  Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center found that over a period of six months, women with polycystic ovary syndrome who took a daily 1500mg cinnamon supplement experienced twice the menstrual cycles as those women with the same condition given an inactive placebo.  Two women even reported pregnancies during the trial, WebMD reported.


6. Can Ward Off HIV. Cinnamon has been used together with anti-retrovirals to help improve the health of those living with the HIV virus. While there is ongoing HIV research to find a cure, a 2000 study analyzing Indian medicinal plants found that out of 69 screened, 16 were effective against HIV-1 and HIV-2 with the most effect extracts revealed to be cinnamon cassia and the shoot and fruit of the plant (cardiospermum helicacabum) respectively. Likewise, cinnamon can also fight off HIV and other viruses according to a study which showed a cinnamon derivative may turn HIV infected people into HIV controllers – those who carry the virus but don’t develop full blown AIDS.

Interestingly, eugenol a chemical compound found in Ceylon cinnamon was also found to be effective against Herpes and cinnamaldehye, the primary ingredient in Ceylon cinnamon bark oil, was able to combat the adenovirus, the most common respiratory infection virus, Cinnamon Vogue reported.

7. Weight Loss Aid. Want to shed some pounds? Just add a spoonful of cinnamon to your daily diet. According to research, the main ingredient in cinnamon, couramin may have the effect of thinning your blood, which can increase blood circulation and cause certain people to weight loss.  However, most of the scientific research thus far has been related to blood sugar and insulin management correlating with obesity related problems, so the data are not concrete.  Nonetheless, the studies do show that increased blood flow generally boosts your metabolism, which scientists say can help with weight loss and help you to burn fat faster. But doctors caution against using cinnamon with other blood thinning medications because of the anti-clotting property in couramin.

8. Cancer Preventer. Cinnamon oil has been shown to treat several different types of cancers including tumors, gastric cancers and melanomas, according to medical studies. The study showed a cinnamon-derived acceptor could impair cancer cell proliferation.  What’s more, Cinnamon Vogue cites a 2009 medical study whereby two chemical constituents of cinnamon were used to develop “nutraceuticals” that proved moderately effective in fighting human colon cancer cells and human hepatoma cells which suggested that introducing cinnamon into the digestive tract may have a mitigating effect on blood sugar levels in the body by “essentially starving off the cancer cells of the sugar needed to sustain them.”

9. Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides. Besides cinnamon’s ability to control blood sugar levels, one study found that up to 6 grams of cinnamon per day not only reduced serum glucose but also triglyceride – a type of fat, LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and total cholesterol in people with Type 2 diabetes. After 40 days, researchers found that cinnamon reduced triglyceride by 23-30 percent, LDL cholesterol by 7-27 percent and total cholesterol by 12-26 percent.

A later review of the data in 2013 published by the Annals of Family Medicine again confirmed that consumption of cinnamon is associated with a significant decrease in levels of total cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride levels, and an increase in HDL cholesterol (the good kind) levels, but qualified it by saying that applying it to patient care is difficult because of the uncertainty of the dose and duration of cinnamon use.

10. Reduce Depression and Irritability. Although sometimes discounted as an old wives’ tale, there is evidence to show that a whiff of cinnamon may actually lift a person’s mood. In fact, a study by the Wheeling Jesuit University found that the scent of cinnamon reduced driver irritability and frustration and increases driver alertness. Moreover, there is some evidence that claims certain types of stomach bacteria may make you more susceptible to depression. Therefore, alternative medicine proponents suggest that consuming cinnamon may help remove the bad bacteria and therefore lift your mood based on its powerful anti-bacterial propensities. Just don’t forget to supplement it with a probiotic.


While such research is great news for cinnamon lovers, doctors recommend against consuming cinnamon in excessive amounts, especially cassia, which can be toxic.  Moreover, it is not recommended to substitute cinnamon for prescription medication.  For those interested in adding cinnamon to your diet, doctors recommend limiting your cassia cinnamon intake to one or half of a teaspoon a day, especially for those whose stomachs upset easily.

Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.

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5 Spices That Should Be In Every Home

Maria Marlowe    November 28, 2012

Ditch the table salt and irradiated ground black pepper! It’s time to improve your spice rack with delicious and aromatic flavors that will not only enhance your dishes, but improve your health, too.

Here are 5 spices you should add to your table and sprinkle daily:

1. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Table salt has gotten a bad rap, and with good reason: It’s chemically cleaned and stripped of its minerals, leaving just sodium chloride, which is hard for our bodies to break down and leaves us with excess fluid in our body tissue.

Pink Himalayan Salt, on the other hand, contains 84 essential minerals, alkalizes the pH of your cells, balances electrolytes, and is anti-aging. Many doctors and nutritionists believe an acidic pH is the cause of many diseases, so a sprinkle of this may help thwart disease by neutralizing your pH. Get the coarse crystals to grind fresh over your meals. The taste is phenomenal and will certainly enhance any dish or salad.

2. Fresh Cracked Black Peppercorns

Did you know most ground black pepper is blasted with radiation before it lands on store shelves? That’s done to keep the pepper fresher for longer, although it has the unfortunate side effect of making it less nutritious.

Instead opt for a whole black peppercorns and grind over a dish just before serving for the best flavor and the highest nutritional value. Black pepper improves digestion, promotes intestinal health, and has antioxidant properties.

Black Pepper

3. Turmeric

What can’t this spice do? Turmeric is a powerful detoxifier and anti-inflammatory that also exhibits antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activity, which helps protect you against many diseases, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and other chronic illnesses. Add to soups or sprinkle over salads.

4. Cinnamon

This aromatic and warming spice stabilizes your blood sugar, and helps lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol. In Ayurveda, cinnamon is used to treat indigestion, colds, and diabetes. Sprinkle over oatmeal, cereal, or in your tea.

5. Cumin

Cumin is high in iron, a mineral needed for energy and immune function. You get 15% of your daily suggested value in just 1 teaspoon. It also helps digestion and has anti-carcinogenic properties. A potent antioxidant, research shows it can even help prevent cancer. Sprinkle over legumes, brown rice, or salad. Cumin pairs well with turmeric and black pepper.

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6 Reasons To Say Yes To Cinnamon

By Tamara Jacobi     December 31, 2013

Just the smell of cinnamon is enough to inspire nostalgic childhood memories: sipping hot cocoa, playing in the snow, and nibbling grandma’s baked treats. Though cinnamon is considered a classic holiday spice, I’ve become absolutely convinced that it should be a permanent addition to both my spice cabinet and my medicine cabinet.

Cinnamon is one of the oldest known spices, and was traditionally used not only as a spice, but as a healer and even as perfume! Did you know that cinnamon sticks are actually the brown bark from a cinnamon tree? The bark is harvested and dried into rolls to make cinnamon sticks. Powdered cinnamon is simply bark that has been ground and ready for you to use!

Here are six reasons to love this diverse superfood:

1. It satisfies your sweet tooth.

Cinnamon has the ability to enhance the natural sweetness of foods containing sugar. I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for healthy ways to satisfy my sweet tooth! For a sweet treat that’s low in calories, try sprinkling cinnamon over sliced fruit such as apples or bananas. Simple and sweet!

2. It aids weight loss.

Adding a dash of cinnamon to your meals can help stabilize your blood sugar, reduce fat storage, keep you satisfied for longer and allow you to eat less. If you’re trying to lose a few pesky pounds, cinnamon will give you a nice push in the right direction! Given its ability to stabilize blood sugar, cinnamon can be very helpful in the treatment of diabetes.

3. It boosts brain function.

Studies suggest that this aromatic spice can help boost brain activity, and can also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It seems that cinnamon is good for the mind now and down the road .


4. It’s easy to use.

Even if you’re not a cook, it’s incredibly simple to add cinnamon to tea, coffee, yogurt, smoothies, fruit, granola, whole grains, desserts, and more. If you’re a lazy chef like myself, cinnamon is a simple spice that can give basic dishes some flare without much effort. Though we often associate cinnamon with sweet, you can also add it to grains, sautés, beans and beyond.

5. It’s anti-inflammatory.

As an athlete, cinnamon has been one of my nutritional epiphanies. Cinnamon is a natural anti-inflammatory that can help athletes recover quickly from workouts and injuries. Not surprisingly, cinnamon has become one of the key ingredients in my post workout smoothies.

6. It’s anti-microbial.

Adding a dash of cinnamon to your life can help stop candida overgrowth. Everyone has candida in their tummy. The problems arise when candida gets out of control. Adding cinnamon to your diet regularly can help keep candida at bay.

Though I probably won’t be wearing cinnamon as a perfume anytime soon, you can be sure that this unique spice has a special spot on my kitchen counter!