Health & Wellness, Nutrition

5 Amazing Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Is there anything as comforting as the warm, spicy scent of cinnamon? It’s been a culinary staple for centuries—and with good reason. Did you know that it also comes with a host of health benefits? Aside from loving its delicious taste, the health properties contained in cinnamon is the main reason I add it to so many of my recipes. But you should be aware that not all cinnamon is the same! And that brand sitting in your kitchen cabinet may not be the one you need to get all of its incredible health-promoting effects.

So, let’s dive in and discuss the top health benefits of cinnamon below. But first, I want review the two different types of cinnamon—and which one you should be using!

 

The Case Against Cassia: Why All Cinnamon Isn’t the Same

You may be surprised to learn that there are actually two different types of cinnamon, known as cassia cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon. And while they’re both forms of cinnamon, they come with very different properties and benefits. In fact, cassia cinnamon contains significantly higher amounts of a certain toxic compound called coumarin that can become hazardous to your health if you consume too much of it! Let’s dig a little deeper and learn about the differences between cassia and Ceylon.

Cassia Cinnamon

Cassia cinnamon is a lower quality, cheaper cinnamon you can easily find in most grocery stores. It’s sourced from the tree known as Cinnamomum cassia, which is commonly found in Asia, and specifically in China.

While cassia cinnamon has been shown to offer some of the great health benefits of cinnamon, such as supporting healthy blood sugar levels and potentially fighting Alzheimer’s disease (in in vitro studies), it does have a big downside. [1, 2]

As I mentioned above, more so than any other plant food, cassia cinnamon contains a significant amount of coumarin. In fact, cassia cinnamon contains anywhere from 2,650 to 7,017 mg of coumarin per kg of cinnamon! [3] Eating too much of this chemical compound has been linked to liver damage and poor neurological function in children. [4, 5] In animal studies, it’s even been shown to have the potential to cause cancer! [6]

Ceylon Cinnamon

Meanwhile, Ceylon cinnamon is a higher quality, more expensive cinnamon that can be found in spice shops and even some chain retail stores. It’s sourced from the Cinnamomum verum tree located in Sri Lanka and some parts of India.

While Ceylon cinnamon has a milder smell and taste than cassia cinnamon, the big positive to this option is that it contains almost no coumarin. [7] With Ceylon cinnamon, you get all of the health benefits of cinnamon without the worry of the side effects of coumarin. Sounds like a win-win, right?

So, now that you know more about the types of cinnamon, let’s take a deeper look at the incredible health benefits you can get by adding this delicious spice to more of your food.

 

5 Amazing Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Here are some of the top health benefits of cinnamon.

1. Contains anti-inflammatory properties

You know by now that inflammation is the precursor for many types of diseases, from heart disease to diabetes to obesity (and more). As a result, lowering inflammation is now a key area of focus in the scientific community.

In fact, in 2014, researchers tested the anti-inflammatory activities of 115 foods and found that Ceylon cinnamon was one the most potent anti-inflammatory foods of all that were tested. [8] And in a 2015 study, researchers surmised that cinnamon could be used as a potential treatment of age-related inflammatory conditions. [9]

2. Supports healthy blood sugar levels

One of the most touted health benefits of cinnamon is its ability to fight diabetes. And research has shown this to be true. Several studies have revealed that consuming cinnamon can actually help lower fasting blood glucose levels by up to 29 percent! [10] Other studies have also revealed that consuming cinnamon can help improve insulin sensitivity in those with type 2 diabetes. [11]

3. Helps inhibit certain bacteria and fungi

Did you know that one of the most incredible health benefits of cinnamon is its ability to fight infections? Several studies have shown that cinnamon essential oil contains anti-bacterial properties. And one study revealed that it was effective against different bacterial strains, when combined with clove oil. [12] (And in case you weren’t aware, this combination smells fantastic in a diffuser!)

Another study investigated the anti-fungal activity of cinnamon oil against fluconazole-resistant Candida (yeast) and showed that the properties in cinnamon helped improve the yeast outbreak. [13]

4. Boosts mood and energy levels

Personally, I find the smell of cinnamon to be invigorating! I love to rub diluted cinnamon essential oil onto my wrists or add a drop or two into my lotion to help wake me up in the morning. In Ayurvedic medicine, cinnamon is used a warming agent to balance digestion and calm stomach disorders. As such, it can increase the blood flow to your skin with topical applications, and this plays a role in how it “wakes up” your metabolism.

Interestingly, studies have shown that cinnamon oil can actually give you an energy boost thanks to its metabolism-boosting effects. [14] While more research is needed to support its aromatherapy benefits, many people often report feeling instantly “awakened” or “energized” after a simple sniff of this invigorating scent.

5. Supports healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels

As we discussed above, one of the best health benefits of cinnamon is its ability to fight inflammatory conditions such as heart disease. Due to this effect, cinnamon has also been shown to support health blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

In one animal study, researchers revealed that consuming cinnamon for 35 days actually resulted in improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels. [15] And human-based studies have also supported cinnamon’s ability to effectively manage triglyceride, total cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol levels. [16]

 

Health benefits of cinnamon - Dr. Pingel

 

Key Takeaways

  • There are two different types of cinnamon, known as cassia cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon.
  • In comparison to Ceylon cinnamon, cassia cinnamon contains far more coumarin, a chemical compound found to be toxin if consumed in high amounts.
  • Ceylon cinnamon contains many health benefits, including it’s ability to fight inflammation, support healthy blood sugar levels, fight infections, boost energy levels, and support cardiovascular health.
  • You can find Ceylon cinnamon in spice shops as well as some retail chains.

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