10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon That Might Surprise You

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Cinnamon is a popular spice, known for its fragrant aroma and ability to enhance flavors in foods and beverages–from your morning coffee to your favorite dessert. But its benefits extend far beyond the kitchen, into multiple aspects of your well-being. 

Let’s explore cinnamon’s top 10 health benefits, and how to get the most out of this wellness-boosting spice.

10 Health benefits of cinnamon

1. Supports digestive health

Cinnamon has been used in folk medicine for over 4,000 years to address gastrointestinal issues. Its anti-inflammatory properties soothe the gut, alleviating symptoms of:

  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Constipation

Due to its ability to reduce inflammation in the gut, cinnamon may also be a safe, effective, natural treatment for symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other chronic intestinal issues.

2. Boosts metabolism and promotes weight loss

While its exact mechanisms are still under investigation, cinnamaldehyde, a flavonoid in cinnamon, may have thermogenic (calorie-burning) effects. A review of 12 studies found that supplementing with cinnamon significantly decreased participants’:

  • Body weight
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Waist circumference

In addition to increasing metabolism, cinnamon may help suppress appetite, thereby supporting decreased calorie intake and weight loss.

3. Improves oral hygiene

Another health benefit of cinnamon is better oral hygiene when used inside the mouth. This spice combats bacteria responsible for:

  • Bad breath
  • Cavities
  • Mouth infections

Research has proven cinnamon to be a powerful antibacterial agent, especially against Streptococcus mutans, which cause cavities and periodontal disease. Using a mouthwash containing cinnamon can also prevent plaque, supporting gum health. 

4. Controls blood sugar levels

According to Sarah Herrington, nutritionist at Arizona-based alternative medical treatment center Brio-Medical, “Some of the most noteworthy benefits of cinnamon are its effects toward blood glucose and insulin regulation.”

Research shows the polyphenols (antioxidant plant compounds) in cinnamon actually mimic insulin, increasing sensitivity to this key hormone. Cinnamon also slows carbohydrate breakdown in the digestive tract, preventing sharp spikes in blood sugar post-meals–an essential aspect of managing diabetes.

Some studies suggest that even a modest daily amount–about 1.5 grams, or roughly ½ teaspoon–can effectively reduce fasting blood sugar levels.

5. Reduces inflammation

Packed with antioxidant polyphenols, cinnamon is a potent anti-inflammatory. These compounds protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals–unstable molecules that can accelerate aging and chronic diseases, originating both internally and from environmental sources like air pollution.

Research involving cinnamon supplements–with doses ranging from 1.5 to 4 grams daily–has shown increased antioxidant levels in the blood and reduced inflammation markers, including C-reactive protein. 

C-reactive protein is a protein produced by the liver that rises in the bloodstream in response to inflammation or infection.

6. Lowers blood pressure

Animal studies suggest the flavonoid cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon can reduce blood pressure by influencing calcium channels and relaxing vascular smooth muscle. This process is similar to how some blood pressure medications work.

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Calcium is crucial for muscle contractions, including those in the heart and blood vessel walls. The mineral enters muscle cells through calcium channels or tiny pores on the cell surface. 

Calcium channel blockers and cinnamon both inhibit or slow this movement, promoting vasodilation and lowering blood pressure.

Cinnamon’s phytochemicals may also inhibit the activity of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), a key enzyme that regulates blood pressure. By hindering ACE, cinnamon prevents the formation of angiotensin II, a peptide hormone that raises blood pressure. 

This means cinnamon could lower your risk of heart disease.

7. Manages cholesterol

Research suggests that compounds in cinnamon, including cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid, can reduce:

  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

Numerous studies have shown that polyphenols like those in cinnamon improve triglyceride metabolism and clearance. This means cinnamon has the potential to decrease arterial plaque buildup, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

While further research is needed, one study found that consuming 1-6 grams of cinnamon daily for 40 days reduced total cholesterol by about 18%.

8. Fights infections

Cinnamaldehyde can also combat a variety of infections. One study found it disrupted biofilms–protective layers that enable bacteria to survive and cause chronic infections–in over 75% of cases examined.

Cinnamon essential oil, extracted from the leaves or bark of cinnamon trees, may also:

  • Hinder certain fungi responsible for respiratory infections
  • Inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria like Listeria and Salmonella
  • Offer protection from viruses, including influenza and dengue, which is transmitted by mosquitoes

9. Protects brain health

Cinnamaldehyde and another micronutrient in cinnamon, epicatechin, could help suppress the buildup of tau in the brain–a protein associated with neurodegenerative diseases. 

An animal study found that cinnamon not only protected neurons and normalized neurotransmitter levels in the brain but also improved motor functions in those already suffering from Parkinson’s.

The polyphenols in cinnamon are key to its cognitive health benefits. These antioxidants:

  • Neutralize free radicals
  • Reduce oxidative stress
  • Minimize inflammation

All of the above are factors that contribute to brain aging and degeneration. 

10. Combats cancer

Another impressive health benefit of cinnamon is its potential role in cancer prevention and treatment–although evidence is currently limited to lab and animal research. 

These studies suggest cinnamon extracts may ward off cancer by:

  • Inhibiting the growth of cancer cells
  • Hindering the formation of blood vessels in tumors
  • Inducing cancer cell death

One study on mice with ovarian cancer found that cinnamaldehyde hampered the expression of proteins involved in cancer proliferation (copying DNA and dividing into two cells). Test-tube experiments further backed up these findings.

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What is the best cinnamon to eat?

Experts often recommend Ceylon cinnamon over the more common type, cassia, due to its lower coumarin content. Coumarin is a flavoring substance that, while safe in small amounts, can be harmful to the liver in high doses.

Ceylon cinnamon contains only 0.004% coumarin, while cassia contains about 1%. The daily limit of coumarin is 0.05 mg per pound (0.1 mg/kg) of body weight, and is easily surpassed with cassia cinnamon if you’re consuming more than 1-2 teaspoons a day.

If you plan to take a significant amount of cinnamon for issues like blood sugar regulation, opt for Ceylon. While it’s a bit more expensive, some research suggests this type of cinnamon is also richer in antioxidants and offers more nutritional benefits than cassia.

How to use cinnamon to support your health

Sprinkle it on food or in beverages.

Sprinkling ground cinnamon on your food or in beverages is one of the simplest ways to enjoy the spice’s health benefits. Try adding about ½ teaspoon to your:

  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Fruit
  • Yogurt
  • Smoothies
  • Milk
  • Tea or coffee

Drink a honey and cinnamon mixture.

Mix a teaspoon of cinnamon in a cup of boiled water, let it cool for 15 minutes, and add a teaspoon of honey. Drinking this mixture first thing in the morning can be especially helpful for weight loss by suppressing your appetite and keeping you fuller and longer.

Steep cinnamon sticks in hot water or milk.

You can also make cinnamon tea by boiling 2 cinnamon sticks in hot liquid for 15-25 minutes. This is a great way to take advantage of the spice’s antimicrobial and immune-boosting properties when you’re under the weather.

Add cinnamon powder or essential oil to oral care products.

Add cinnamon powder or essential oil to melted coconut oil or your favorite mouthwash and swish to kill bacteria, improve your breath, and combat any dental issues.

Cinnamon isn’t just a delicious spice to add to baked goods. It’s a powerhouse of nutritional, antioxidant, and metabolic benefits. 

Whether you prefer adding it to your breakfast cereal or beverages, swishing it with mouthwash, or taking a higher-dose supplement, this spice can support you in feeling and functioning at your best for years to come. So, add a dash of cinnamon to your wellness regimen today. 

References:

Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant – PMC.

Cinnamon as a Complementary Therapeutic Approach for Dysglycemia and Dyslipidemia Control in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Its Molecular Mechanism of Action: A Review – PMC

Cinnamon effects on metabolic syndrome: a review based on its mechanisms – PMC

Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes

Insulin resistance improvement by cinnamon powder in polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial

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Cinnamaldehyde induces fat cell-autonomous thermogenesis and metabolic reprogramming – ScienceDirect

Cinnamon supplementation positively affects obesity: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Cinnamaldehyde induces fat cell-autonomous thermogenesis and metabolic reprogramming – PMC

Cinnamon: Mystic powers of a minute ingredient – PMC

Cinnamon effects on blood pressure and metabolic profile: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in patients with stage 1 hypertension – PMC

Effects of Cinnamon on Risk Factors of Cardiovascular Diseases: A Review Paper – Internal Medicine Today

Cardiovascular protective effect of cinnamon and its major bioactive constituents: An update – ScienceDirect

The effect of cinnamon supplementation on blood pressure in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

The beneficial effects of cinnamon among patients with metabolic diseases: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized-controlled trials

Cinnamomum: The New Therapeutic Agents for Inhibition of Bacterial and Fungal Biofilm-Associated Infection – PMC

Plant-Derived Natural Products as Lead Agents against Common Respiratory Diseases – PMC

The Natural Antimicrobial trans-Cinnamaldehyde Interferes with UDP-N-Acetylglucosamine Biosynthesis and Cell Wall Homeostasis in Listeria monocytogenes

Traditional foods with their constituent’s antiviral and immune system modulating properties – PMC

Effects of Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.) in Dentistry: A Review – PMC

Antibacterial and antibiofilm activities of cinnamon essential oil nanoemulsion against multi-species oral biofilms – PMC

Effects of Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.) in Dentistry: A Review – PMC

Cinnamon, a promising prospect towards Alzheimer’s disease

Cinnamon treatment upregulates neuroprotective proteins Parkin and DJ-1 and protects dopaminergic neurons in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease

Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health – PMC

Translational perspective: is cinnamon a suitable agent for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease associated with brain trauma? – PMC

Anti-cancer effects of cinnamon: Insights into its apoptosis effects

Cinnamon in Anticancer Armamentarium: A Molecular Approach – PMC

Cinnamon extract reduces VEGF expression via suppressing HIF-1α gene expression and inhibits tumor growth in mice

Cinnamaldehyde Suppressed EGF-Induced EMT Process and Inhibits Ovarian Cancer Progression Through PI3K/AKT Pathway

Beneficial Effects of Cinnamon on the Metabolic Syndrome, Inflammation, and Pain, and Mechanisms Underlying These Effects – A Review – PMC.

Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum J. Presl) Bark Extract after In Vitro Digestion Simulation – PMC

Aqueous cinnamon extract ameliorates bowel dysfunction and enteric 5-HT synthesis in IBS rats – PMC

Medicinal properties of ‘true’ cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review – PMC

Solvent‐assisted supercritical fluid extraction for the isolation of semivolatile flavor compounds from the cinnamons of commerce and their separation by series‐coupled column gas chromatography – Miller – 1995

Toxicology and risk assessment of coumarin: focus on human data

Coumarins and Coumarin-Related Compounds in Pharmacotherapy of Cancer – PMC.

Author
Carrie Solomon

Carrie Solomon is a freelance health writer, copywriter, and passionate wellness enthusiast. She’s on a mission to help wellness-focused companies educate, engage, and inspire their audiences to make the world a healthier, happier place. Learn more about her at copybycarrie.com or on LinkedIn.

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