Medically reviewed by Melissa Nieves, LND, RD
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylacium) comes from the bark of various species of cinnamon trees. It has been used as a spice and medicinal remedy for thousands of years. Cinnamon is an aromatic and versatile ingredient in sweet and savory recipes.
Cinnamon has been studied for its therapeutic effects, from lowering blood sugar and cholesterol to reducing inflammation. However, consuming large doses of cinnamon can have negative effects, such as interfering with some medications and causing gastrointestinal distress and allergic reactions.
This article discusses what the research says about cinnamon and whether it’s okay to consume it on a daily basis.
What are the health benefits of cinnamon?
Cinnamon contains a compound called cinnamaldehydepresent in the oil. It contributes to the fragrance and is partly responsible for the various health benefits and anti-inflammatory effects attributed to cinnamon.
Cinnamon bark contains other bioactive compounds such as catechins and procyanidins, which belong to a subgroup of flavonoids and may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
It can help control blood sugar
The use of cinnamon to lower blood sugar has been studied in people with prediabetes. While research is mixed, one study suggests that consuming cinnamon daily may help control blood sugar.
In the study, participants with prediabetes took three daily doses of 500 milligrams (mg) of cinnamon (one-third teaspoon) for 12 weeks. Researchers found that ingesting cinnamon for 12 weeks improved fasting blood sugar and glucose tolerance in prediabetics.
However, the researchers note that more studies are needed to address cinnamon’s effects on the rate of progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.
If you take diabetes medications that help lower your blood sugar, you should discuss using cinnamon with your doctor to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
May have cardioprotective effects
Some research suggests that compounds in cinnamon may protect the heart. Researchers have studied the effect of oral cinnamon supplementation on people with metabolic syndrome.
Participants who took the cinnamon supplement had significantly greater decreases in weight, abdominal fat, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), as well as blood pressure, compared to the placebo.
It should be noted that all participants were considered overweight and were educated about healthy eating and exercise. However, more research is needed.
Related: Can taking cinnamon lower cholesterol?
Other Potential Cinnamon Benefits
Studies in laboratories have shown that cinnamon has antibacterial properties and can help reduce certain types of bacteria that can cause disease and spoil food and cosmetics. Cinnamon has also been studied for its role in improving inflammation in women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but more research is needed.
While more research in humans is needed, experts believe cinnamon may have neuroprotective effects. Test-tube and animal studies reveal that the properties of cinnamon extracts have the potential to inhibit and prevent key factors in Alzheimer’s disease.
Is cinnamon good for you?
Cinnamon is a powerful plant antioxidant. If you want to reduce your sugar intake without compromising the flavor, cinnamon is a great ingredient.
It can also serve as a delicious addition to your favorite foods. Adding a small amount to oats, cereals, yogurts, smoothies, toast, and fruit will enhance the taste or palatability of nutritious foods while adding benefits.
Cinnamon shouldn’t be used as a substitute for medicine, but it’s a great addition to a meal plan.
Cinnamon is usually used in small quantities. Although it is rich in some micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, they will not contribute significantly to your daily nutrient intake.
Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and low-fat dairy products, and add small amounts of cinnamon.
One teaspoon of cinnamon, equal to 2.6 grams (g), contains the following nutrients in grams, milligrams (mg), and micrograms (mcg):
Fat grams: 0
Carbohydrates: 2 g
Fiber: 1 gram
Sugar: 0 gr
Calcium: 26.1 mg
Iron: 0.21 mg
Phosphorus: 1.66 mg
Potassium: 11.2 mg
Vitamin A: 0.39mcg
Types of cinnamon
The two main types of cinnamon are called Ceylon (also known as true cinnamon) and Cassia. Cassia is most common in the United States. Ceylon can be more expensive and can be harder to find. Ceylon cinnamon has a milder flavor.
Cassia cinnamon contains a chemical called coumarin, which can be harmful to the liver when consumed at high levels for long periods.
There is no recommended dosage for cinnamon and everyone’s answer is unique. You should stop taking it if you experience gastrointestinal, skin or oral reactions.
A little cinnamon goes a long way. To reap the health benefits of cinnamon, most people can consume roughly one-third to 1 teaspoon (maximum serving) of powdered Ceylon cinnamon per day in their diet.
Cinnamon is versatile. Consider sprinkling some into your overnight or morning oats, adding it to smoothies, garnishing fruity snacks like apples covered in nut butter, or flavoring your night tea.
Can you consume cinnamon every day?
If you plan to consume cinnamon on a regular basis, it’s probably best to purchase Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon contains trace amounts of coumarin, approximately 0.004%, while Cassia cinnamon contains approximately 1% coumarin.
Variable levels of coumarin have been found in Cassia cinnamon, ranging from 7 to 18 grams (depending on the type and source) per teaspoon. Discuss with a healthcare professional if you have any questions about taking cinnamon.
Cinnamon Side Effects (Risks)
Cassia cinnamon contains a chemical called coumarin, which can damage the liver. Most of the time, consuming small amounts of Cassia cinnamon doesn’t cause any problems. However, prolonged use of Cassia cinnamon can be problematic, especially in sensitive people, such as those with liver disease.
Cinnamon can also interfere with some medications, such as statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) and oral medications used to treat diabetes. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s usually okay to use the average amount of cinnamon, but little is known about the safety of cinnamon in higher doses.
Spice allergies are rare, but if you’re allergic to cinnamon, you may experience reactions when it’s ingested, inhaled, or touched. If you suspect you are allergic to ground cinnamon, avoid it and all products containing it.
Cinnamon is not supposed to replace medicine, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have medicinal properties. It has been used for thousands of years and is a tasty addition to various foods. Adding cinnamon to your diet may offer some health benefits due to certain plant-based compounds having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Large doses of cinnamon consumed for a long time can cause adverse effects. You should discuss your intake with your doctor if you take certain medications, such as glucose-lowering medications.
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