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 adverse effects, such as interfering with certain medications and causing gastrointestinal disorders and allergic reactions.
This article discusses what the research says about cinnamon and if it is OK to consume it daily.
What Are the Health Benefits of Cinnamon?
Cinnamon contains a compound called cinnamaldehyde, which is present 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 like catechins and procyanidins, which belong to a sub-group of flavonoids and can have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
May Help Control Blood Sugar
The use of cinnamon in lowering blood sugar has been studied in people with prediabetes. Although the research is mixed, one study suggests that daily consumption of cinnamon may help to control blood sugar.
In the study, participants with prediabetes took three daily 500 milligrams (mg) doses of cinnamon (one-third teaspoon) over 12 weeks. Researchers found ingesting cinnamon for 12 weeks improved fasting plasma glucose and glucose tolerance in prediabetics.
However, 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 cinnamon use with your healthcare provider to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
May Have Cardioprotective Effects
Some research suggests that compounds in cinnamon may protect the heart. Researchers investigated the effect of oral cinnamon supplementation on people with metabolic syndrome.
Participants who took the cinnamon supplement had a significantly higher decrease in weight, abdominal adiposity, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad cholesterol), as well as blood pressure, compared to the placebo.
It should be noted that all participants were considered to have excess weight and were educated on healthy eating and exercise. However, more research is needed.
Other Potential Benefits of Cinnamon
Studies in laboratories have demonstrated that cinnamon has antibacterial properties and may help decrease 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), yet, more research is needed.
While more research is needed on humans, experts believe cinnamon may have neuroprotective effects. Studies done in test tubes and animals reveal that the properties of cinnamon extracts may potentially inhibit and prevent key contributors to Alzheimer’s disease.
Is Cinnamon Good for You?
Cinnamon is a powerful plant-based antioxidant. If you want to reduce your sugar intake without compromising flavor, cinnamon is a great ingredient.
It can also serve as a delicious addition to your favorite foods. Adding a small amount to oats, cereal, yogurt, smoothies, toast, and fruit will increase the taste or palatability of nutritious foods while adding benefits.
Cinnamon should not be used as a replacement for medicine, but it is an excellent addition to an eating plan.
Cinnamon is typically used in small quantities. Although it is rich in certain micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, they will not significantly contribute to your daily nutrient intake.
Eat various nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, lean protein, 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):
- Calories: 6
- Grams fat: 0
- Carbohydrate: 2 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Sodium: 0.26 mg
- Sugar: 0 g
- Protein: 0.1
- Calcium: 26.1 mg
- Iron: 0.21 mg
- Magnesium: 1.56 mg
- Phosphorus: 1.66 mg
- Potassium: 11.2 mg
- Vitamin A: 0.39 mcg
Types of Cinnamon
The two main types of cinnamon are called Ceylon (also known as true cinnamon) and Cassia. Cassia is more 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 response to it is unique. You should stop taking it if you experience any gastrointestinal, skin, or mouth reactions.
A little cinnamon goes a long way. To reap the health benefits of cinnamon, most individuals can consume roughly one-third to 1 teaspoon (max dose) of Ceylon cinnamon powder a day into their diet.
Cinnamon is versatile. Consider sprinkling some in your overnight or morning oats, adding it to smoothies, topping fruity snacks like nut-butter-dipped apples, or spicing up your nightly tea.
Can You Consume Cinnamon Daily?
If you plan to consume cinnamon regularly, it’s probably best to purchase Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon contains trace amounts of coumarin, about 0.004%, while Cassia cinnamon contains about 1% coumarin.
Varying levels of coumarin have been found in Cassia cinnamon, depending on the type and source. One study found that Cassia powders and sticks contained up to 25.7 mg per teaspoon, with an average of 9.6 mg. Discuss with a healthcare provider if you have questions about your cinnamon intake.
Cinnamon Side Effects (Risks)
Cassia cinnamon contains a chemical called coumarin, which can harm the liver. Most of the time, consuming small amounts of Cassia cinnamon does not cause any issues. However, prolonged use of Cassia cinnamon can be problematic, especially in people who are sensitive, like those with liver disease.
Cinnamon can also interfere with certain medications, like statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) and oral drugs used to treat diabetes. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, using the average amount of cinnamon usually is permissible, but little is known about cinnamon’s safety in higher doses.
Spice allergies are rare, but if you are allergic to cinnamon, you may have reactions to it when it is ingested, inhaled, or touched. If you suspect you are allergic to cinnamon powder, avoid it and all products containing it.
Cinnamon should not be substituted for medicine, but that doesn’t mean it may not have medicinal properties. It’s 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 with 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 medical provider if you take certain medications, like glucose-lowering drugs.