Cinnamon is a spice that almost all of us have used before, however one that many of us aren’t using to full capacity to reap the many health benefits it has to offer.
Think of cinnamon as a hidden gem. It’s sitting in just about everyone’s pantry but often gets overlooked for other spices and herbs such as garlic, oregano, and seasoning salt.
Many people also think of cinnamon as the ‘breakfast spice’, believing it can only be added to oatmeal, or used if you are preparing cinnamon toast.
They may also know it as a spice used when baking sweet treats, so that’s another common use for it.
But did you know that cinnamon can be used in so many different ways and it can offer amazing health benefits as well? It does more than add great flavor to your foods. It can totally transform your meal, all while supporting good all-around health.
Cinnamon has been used medicinally all around the world for many years, but it’s only recently that people are starting to understand that they can receive great benefits simply by using it in their own home. Plus, nothing smells quite like cinnamon. Add it to your recipes and your whole house will become that much more fragrant.
Often rated as the single best spice that you can use by researchers, cinnamon is definitely one that you’ll want to get in the picture.
So what are these great benefits of cinnamon and how can you use it? Let’s take a closer look.
Before we dive into the more detailed information about how cinnamon can help your body, let’s take a quick look at the actual nutritional facts about cinnamon. Even though cinnamon is considered a spice, not a food, it does still contain specific nutritional info.
This said, keep in mind this is for a tablespoon of cinnamon. Most people won’t eat anywhere near that amount in a single serving (or even over the course of the week for that matter), so this is all just relative information to compare to other spices/herbs you may be using.
One tablespoon of cinnamon will provide 19 calories, 6.2 grams of carbohydrates, 0.3 grams of protein, 0.1 grams of fat, 4.1 grams of dietary fiber, 1.4 mg of manganese, 77.7 mg of calcium, and trace amounts of iron, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin B6, zinc, niacin, and copper.
Cinnamon is a pretty loaded spice! Some of the benefits it provides, however, do not come from these nutrients, but from other compounds it contains.
One of the first main benefits you can look forward to when serving yourself cinnamon is that it contains a wealth of antioxidants. Cinnamon ranks very high up on the ORAC scale, which is a scale that helps to measure the concentration of the antioxidants found in various food sources. In some research published, scientists noted that cinnamon had stronger antioxidant activity than many of the other herbs and spices it was compared to including garlic, thyme, rosemary, as well as oregano1. So despite the fact that all those are great choices for your health, cinnamon is even better.
This is quite outstanding because garlic is often regarded as one of the healthiest spices that you can add to your diet plan but in terms of actual antioxidant potential, cinnamon comes out ahead.
Getting in enough antioxidants in your diet each day is important to help minimize the impacts that free radicals have on you, which can eventually cause a variety of different disease states.
Many chronic diseases are born out of excess oxidation damage and you can stop this damage in its tracks simply by eating more antioxidants2 .
Many people tend to think of super foods or fresh fruits and vegetables when considering antioxidants but cinnamon – and other herbs – can be just as powerful.
Reduced Levels Of Inflammation
Another high contributor to the state of disease that you need to be very aware of in today’s world is inflammation. Acute inflammation is actually a good thing and can help your body get past states of illness and pain, however when inflammation turns chronic, that’s when you have a serious problem on your hands.
Chronic levels of inflammation mean you’re more susceptible to conditions such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, peptic ulcers, Crohn’s disease, sinusitis, and other health conditions.
Chronic inflammation is something that you may not even notice happening to you until one day you start experiencing pain and discomfort. It just creeps up on you due to making poor life choices and then strikes and before you know it, you’re feeling very unwell.
By adding cinnamon to your diet plan, you may help to lower the total levels of chronic inflammation taking place, thus side-stepping many of these health conditions.
Cinnamon And Muscle Soreness
Did you know that adding cinnamon to your post-workout smoothie may very well be an excellent idea? Many people aren’t aware of the fact that cinnamon is one of the best ways to help relieve post-workout muscle soreness.
This is because of the anti-inflammation benefits it has to offer. When you hit the gym and work hard, you are creating tiny micro-tears in the muscle tissue (damage), which then needs to be repaired by the body.
This means inflammation is going to take place, which can contribute to the soreness that you are experiencing.
While the short-term inflammation is a good thing as it helps your body heal, you don’t want it lingering around for longer than it should, thus resulting in soreness the next few days.
Cinnamon may help you prevent that, so something to consider using after you do a hard session in the gym3 .
Heart Health Benefits
Garlic is often the spice that is most talked about when it comes to protecting your health, but as it turns out, cinnamon is also very beneficial.
When you consume cinnamon, it may help lower cholesterol levels, decrease triglycerides in the bloodstream, and help to bring down high blood pressure levels as well.
All together these three things work very hard to keep your heart as healthy as possible and help to decrease your overall risk factor for a stroke or heart attack.
In addition to helping with these improvements in your overall heart health profile, cinnamon also helps to combat blood clots, which can immediately lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Research suggests that cinnamon is also very useful in helping to improve circulation in the body, which also supports optimal heart health and reduces your risk of related heart health conditions4 .
Improved Blood Glucose Control
Another of the key benefits that cinnamon is well known for is its the ability to help you control your blood glucose levels. Fluctuating blood glucose levels are one of the leading causes of diabetes in today’s world and can also set us up for an increased prevalence of weight gain as well.
In today’s diet, where we are often consuming an abundance of carbohydrates, many of which are very processed, it’s leaving us more prone to high blood sugar levels than ever.
But yet, if we don’t do something about this, it will only be a matter of time before we are left with weight gain and disease.
Fortunately, cinnamon can help. By adding it to the foods you are eating – especially the carbohydrate-rich ones, you can help balance out your blood glucose levels after eating that food5 .
That’s because it can help to improve insulin sensitivity, which means your body responds to insulin release better, which is necessary for keeping blood sugar levels in check.
We already know that adding protein or healthy fats to a serving of carbohydrates can slow down the release of the glucose in the bloodstream as it slows down digestion, but now we see that adding cinnamon is another strategy and can take you one step further.
Fortunately, cinnamon goes hand in hand with many carb-dense foods, so this is great news for those hoping to control their blood sugar.
This is also the primary reason why cinnamon is very strongly recommended for anyone who is currently suffering from diabetes. Using it on a regular basis can be a natural treatment that may help you avoid having to rely so heavily on medication.
Helps Boost Brain Health
Another great benefit to note about cinnamon is that it can do your brain some good as well. The brain is constantly in need of antioxidants to help combat free radical damage and help protect it against brain conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Luckily, thanks to the fact cinnamon are so rich in antioxidant content, it can do your brain a world of good. Cinnamon also serves to help lower inflammation in the brain as well, which can also be a leading cause of developing brain health-related conditions.
Many people overlook what the foods they eat can be doing for their brain as they are so wrapped up in considering body weight, but it’s also a critical thing to think about.
Keeping your brain in top shape is just as important, if not more important than any other part of your body.
Could Decrease Cancer Risk
Cancer is one of the leading causes of disease in today’s world and luckily, you can help combat it with cinnamon. We already know that eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables along with fatty varieties of fish is important to helping combat cancer but now we are also seeing that cinnamon can play a protective role.
Cinnamon helps to stop DNA damage, as well as cell mutation from taking place. Cinnamon seems to be especially powerful in helping to improve colon health and lower cancer risk6 , so if colon cancer is something that runs in your family, it’s an important spice to be getting into the picture.
Finally, one last benefit of cinnamon to note is that it may help you combat food cravings as well. Cinnamon has a natural sweetness to it, so by adding it to recipes, you can add that sweet undertone flavor without having to add a lot of excess sugar.
If you’ve been craving sweet foods, this may very well just do the trick for you.
And even if you do have to add a little bit of sugar, because cinnamon has those powerful blood sugar stabilizing benefits, it won’t harm you as much as it would without it.
Cravings are all too often what cause many people to fall off their program and see a regression in results with their weight loss goals, so cinnamon may just help keep you on track better than without it.
So there you can see some of the most powerful benefits that cinnamon has to offer. It’s one spice that’s super easy to use and will quickly flavor up so many of your foods. Don’t think that you can only use it in baking or breakfast recipes either. There are plenty of delicious ways that you can include it in main course meals as well. You just need to get a bit creative with your cooking and you’ll soon see just how delicious it can be.
To finish up, let’s leave you off with a few recipes to try out.
Sweet Cinnamon Toast
2 slices of Ezekiel bread
1 tbsp. peanut butter
1 banana, mashed
1 tbsp. sugar-free maple syrup
Toast the bread. Next spread the peanut butter over each slice and then top with some of the mashed banana. Make sure all the bread is covered and then sprinkle on some cinnamon and drizzle with maple syrup.
Cinnamon Sweet Potato Soup
2 cups sweet potatoes, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk (or cow’s milk if preferred).
¼ cup of coconut oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. allspice
Place the sweet potatoes and carrots in a steamer and steam until soft. Sauté the onions in a little coconut oil until cooked. Add all three to a blender with the milk and blend until smooth. Add in the remaining coconut oil and spices, continuously blending. Once smooth, add back to a pot and then heat. Let cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat and then serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any benefits to cinnamon?
Cinnamon is one of the most beneficial spices you can use and can offer you everything from cancer protection to inflammation support to helping achieve better antioxidant status.
Is cinnamon good for your stomach?
Cinnamon can help to improve stomach ulcers, so if you are currently suffering from one, ingesting a little cinnamon may help you find faster relief.
How much cinnamon can you take in a day?
Cinnamon can be a toxin in high doses so it’s recommended that you keep your intake to approximately ½ to 1 tsp. of cinnamon powder a day.
Is cinnamon damaging to your kidneys?
There currently is not enough research to say for certain whether high doses of cinnamon could be damaging to your kidneys, but it is suggested that you do stay within the recommended maximum dose of ½ to 1 tsp. per day.
Is cinnamon good for losing weight?
Because cinnamon can help you better control your blood glucose levels, this means that over the long term, it could be beneficial for helping to assist with body weight control. You will still need to focus on eating a calorie-reduced diet however while using cinnamon.
Is cinnamon bad for digestion?
Just the opposite. Cinnamon may actually help improve digestion and ensure you feel your best after eating.
1. Shan, Bin, et al. “Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 53.20 (2005): 7749-7759.
2. Pham-Huy, Lien Ai, Hua He, and Chuong Pham-Huy. “Free radicals, antioxidants in disease and health.” International journal of biomedical science: IJBS 4.2 (2008): 89.
3. Mashhadi, Nafiseh Shokri, et al. “Influence of ginger and cinnamon intake on inflammation and muscle soreness endued by exercise in Iranian female athletes.” International journal of preventive medicine 4.Suppl 1 (2013): S11.
4. Rao, Pasupuleti Visweswara, and Siew Hua Gan. “Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014 (2014).
5. Kirkham, S., et al. “The potential of cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.” Diabetes, obesity and metabolism 11.12 (2009): 1100-1113.
6. Rao, Pasupuleti Visweswara, and Siew Hua Gan. “Cinnamon: a multifaceted medicinal plant.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014 (2014)