Many of cinnamon’s fantastic properties come from one substance called cinnamaldehyde, which is naturally present in cinnamon. Cinnamaldehyde is the source many of the antifungal and antibacterial properties that make cinnamon such a great addition to your diet.
The combination of cinnamaldehyde, antioxidants and cinnamon’s high fiber content are some of the characteristics that lend it its incredible positive effects on the human body.
Why is Cinnamon So Good for You?
1* Blood Sugar Control: But course the effects of Cinnamon tea go beyond this. Many diabetics have started to take Cinnamon to control their blood sugar. And inevitable most of them gravitate towards Ceylon Cinnamon. You see the normal Cinnamon you get here in the United States has high levels of Coumarin, which taken in excess can cause liver failure. If you are a diabetic, chances are that you take Cinnamon every day and that means trouble. Ceylon Cinnamon by comparison has ultra low levels of Coumarin (.004%) so that means you can ingest all the Ceylon Cinnamon you want without any worries of liver damage.
2* Cinnamon may help treat Type 2 diabetes: While it’s true that there’s no cure for Type 2 diabetes, cinnamon can be an effective tool in managing the disease.
According to Lori Kenyon Farley, a Certified Nutrition Consultant specializing in wellness, fitness and anti-aging and one of the experts behind Project Juice, cinnamon can help manage this disease in two different ways. “It can reduce blood pressure and have a positive effect on blood markers for those with Type 2 diabetes,” she explains. Cinnamon can also reduce insulin resistance, which, Farley explains, “has been shown to lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 29%, which can reduce the instance of Type 2 diabetes.”
Shane Ellison, MS, a medicinal chemist and founder of the Sugar Detox, explains how exactly this works. “(Cinnamon) works directly on the muscle cells to force them to remove sugar from the bloodstream, where it is converted to energy,” he says. “It’s even shown to work better than most prescription meds.”
The key is in increasing insulin sensitivity in the body, a sensitivity that, while present at birth for those without type 1 diabetes, slowly decreases as we age and consume more sugar. As a result, sugar floats around in the blood, causing diabetes and other health problems. “Cinnamon, which is completely non-toxic, repairs the receptors so they are once again responsive to insulin,” Ellison explains. “In time, sugar levels normalize due to an increase in insulin sensitivity.”
Add to this the fact that cinnamon has a naturally sweet taste that is devoid of sugar, making it a great addition to foods like plain yogurt as a dessert or snack, and you’ll soon see why we suggest it as a staple for the pantries of those with Type 2 diabetes.
3* Cinnamon as an Anti-Oxidant : Like many members of the species, I like to smoke, drink, work too much and generally lead a bawdy existence. Not really. I do smoke however and yes it is a terrible habit. Now that I am getting older and wiser I have discovered that cigarette smoke is a huge problem and is one of the leading producers of free radicals which in turn cause cancer.
Apparently anti-oxidants can greatly reduce this damage. And like any good smoker I want to keep smoking and take lots of anti-oxidants to compensate. That was the plan anyway. I don’t think that would work. Cinnamon by the way is the 2nd most powerful anti-oxidant in the world with an ORAC value of 267536 ?mol TE/100g in ground Cinnamon according to 2007 USDA figures. Compare that to the famous Acai Berry which has a value of 102,700 or Cocoa powder which has an ORAC value of 55,653 and Cinnamon looks a pretty good bet. Add black tea and you get an additional 313 increase in ORAC values.The problem is most of the Cinnamon tea in the market is fake, Yes that’s right fake. They put a smattering of Cinnamon bark which really delivers so little Cinnamon that it is pointless. Or they use natural flavoring which is even worse.
You see natural flavoring, if you read my previous post on this issue is as bad as artificial flavoring. I am convinced that the chemical process of natural cinnamon flavor extraction destroys the natural benefits of Cinnamon. But because we use real cinnamon bark oil in our tea, it delivers a more realistic dose of real cinnamon. Without the liver damage causing Coumarin found in Cassia Cinnamon.
4* Cinnamon can lower your bad cholesterol (or LDL): Even if you do not suffer from diabetes, you may want to include cinnamon in your diet for many of the same reasons as those who do.
As Carina Parikh, MScN, MSiMR, the holistic nutritionist for Kate Naumes ND Holistic Wellness in Dallas explains, the positive impact on Type 2 diabetes symptoms is due to a number of factors, notably “improving serum glucose, lowering fasting blood glucose, and reducing triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.” These are all benefits that can help even those not suffering from diabetes, including those with hereditary cholesterol worries or problems.
“(Cinnamon) also raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol,” she explains. HDL cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from the body.
And that’s not all. “Regular intake of cinnamon may also help to mitigate the effects of high-fat meals by slowing the increase in blood sugar post-meal,” says Parikh. This means that when cinnamon is added to your diet, the effects of occasional high-fat choices may not be quite as detrimental to your health as they would otherwise be.
5* Indigestion/Stomach Flu: Indigestion can cause stomach cramps, constipation or diarrhea, accompanied by a stomach ache or headache. Often caused by food not digesting properly for some reason. It could be because of a virus or the food you ate was not cooked properly or it was spoiled. A substance in cinnamon called catechins (a type of anti-oxidant) can help ease stomach discomfort, bloating, gas and indigestion. Cinnamon helps digest food as well reduce acid reflux by reducing stomach acidity. For best results add some honey as the combination creates a hydrogen peroxide effect.
6* Cinnamon has antibacterial and antivirial properties: Cinnamon has been proven to fight fungal, bacterial, and viral elements in foods, thus preventing spoilage. It’s no surprise that in the Middle Ages, when food spoilage was far more frequent due to lack of refrigeration, many recipes, both sweet and savory, were flavored with the spice.
But these properties of cinnamon do not extend merely to the foods cinnamon seasons. Consumers of cinnamon can benefit from these properties as well, according to our experts, who say cinnamon can be used as part of a treatment for anything from lung problems to the common cold.
Denise Baron, a wellness educator and director of Ayurveda for Modern Living explains that cinnamon can help with all sorts of lung congestion issues. “It helps clear up mucus and encourages circulation,” she explains, thus lending its powers to everything from a simple seasonal cough to bronchitis, when used in tandem with other remedies.
But perhaps the most surprising use of cinnamon is in combatting viruses, and not just the common cold. “Research shows that cinnamon extract may help fight the HIV virus by preventing the virus from entering cells,” says Parikh. “Therefore, cinnamon extract could potentially contribute to the management of HIV.”
7* Weight Loss & Belly Fat Reduction: Now let’s explore what it does to weight loss reduction especially to belly fat reduction. The jury is still out there on this one. For me it worked. Over a period of 4 months I had Cinnamon Tea twice a day. All the love handles went and all that was left was a little round of fat on the front portion. I tell ya it’s tiny. It is still that much harder to get rid of, especially like me if you eat a lot of sweets.
My feeling is that with a proper program of exercise, nutrition, avoiding sweets, good food choices, Cinnamon can only help. However a word of caution. Do not put milk in your Cinnamon Tea. Apparently adding milk cuts down on the anti-oxidant value of tea according to this New York Times article. We tend to agree and also feel that adding milk even destroys the efficacy of Cinnamon. So best not to add milk. Of course that leaves the problem of staining. Drinking tea without milk (even coffee), especially every day will stain your teeth more. So what is the solution? Brush regularly or use a straw. Personally I use a straw. A bit weird but it works. They even have stainless steel straws. No kidding!
8* Cinnamon can help treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s: Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are two neurological conditions that, for the moment, are incurable. An enormous part of treating these diseases is therefore in symptom management, and this can be boosted with the addition of cinnamon to a regular regime.
“Cinnamon has been shown to help neurons and improve motor function in those suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s,” explains Farley. These contributions can help sufferers of these two diseases continue their regular routines with far less impediment.
9* Cinnamon can help Cognition, Alertness and Memory: Now this I can vouch for personally since I have used and seen a dramatic increase in my productivity level. Cinnamon boosts brain activity, resulting in increased cognitive abilities, memory skills, motor-response speeds and alertness. What is the evidence you ask. From what I understand this is primarily due to Cinnamon’s ability to control insulin levels (See this article). The only study I could find was the famous Wheeling Jesuit university study conducted by Dr. P. Zoladz who found that the scent or flavor of Cinnamon can boost brain function. Specifically it was said to improve attention processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor response speed.
10* Cinnamon may have anti-carcinogenic properties: Many superfoods are attributed with anti-carcinogenic properties, but it’s important not to jump from super food to super power. Parikh explains why it’s important not to get carried away.
“Evidence suggests that cinnamon may have anti-carcinogenic effects as well, although the research thus far is limited to animal studies,” she says. “These experiments demonstrate that cinnamon extract slows the growth of cancer cells and induces cancerous cell death.”
If these properties do extend to humans, then cinnamon may in fact be able to slow growth and kill cancerous cells. And even if these properties do not extend to a cure or treatment for cancer in humans, other characteristics of cinnamon, including the presence of antioxidants and free radicals, can contribute to its possible anti-carcinogenic effects.
11* Heart Diseases: While the Manganese, Calcium , Iron and Fiber present in Cinnamon is fairly high it effects is still debatable. But could still help those suffering from coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. While the Mayo clinic says that there no evidence that cinnamon has a beneficial effect on cholesterol and we tend to agree, even they say it sure couldn’t hurt. We do know that Manganese helps develop connective tissues, absorption of calcium proper functioning of thyroid, sex hormones, regulating blood sugar level, and metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.
12* Consumption of cinnamon can reduce both systemic and specific inflammation: The former is particularly important in the Western world, according to Parekh.She says that in the West, “Systemic inflammation is a prominent problem that has led to the rise in chronic disease.” By adding cinnamon to a regular diet, this systemic inflammation can be reduced significantly.”
Specific inflammation reduction means that consumption of cinnamon can help treat certain types of pain and headaches, as well as arthritis pain. It plays a double role in this particular type of pain, according to Baron, as cinnamon can also boost circulation. “With circulation problems such as Raynaud’s syndrome or arthritis, this helps stimulate and push circulation to the joints,” she explains.
13* Cervical/Colon Cancer: Cinnamon apparently also improves the health of the colon and thereby reducing the risk to colon cancer. According to this study “Water-soluble cinnamon extract was shown to inhibit the growth and spread of cancer in laboratory cell cultures of various types of cancer including lymphoma, melanoma, cervical and colorectal cancer. This could due to the fact cinnamon reduces the level of sugar in your system. Research shows that cancer cells depend on sugar to grow and expand their numbers.
14* Fight Flu Season: Helps fight sore throats and the common cold and congestion. Regular use of Cinnamon Tea, especially during flu season may help stop a sore throat and the resulting cold. Again the reason is the anti-bacterial properties of Cinnamon. It kills germs as the tea runs past your sore throat. Granted it will take a heavy dosage of Cinnamon Tea to have a strong anti bacterial effect, but the cumulative effects of all other things you do to could make the difference.
15* Cinnamon can help mange PCOS: Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a problem with numerous symptoms that need to be managed, and cinnamon can be a key element of this management due to a number of characteristics.
First would be the management of insulin resistance in women with PCOS, which can contribute to weight gain. “A recent pilot study found that cinnamon reduced insulin resistance in women with PCOS,” explains Parekh, extending cinnamon’s recommended consumption from diabetes sufferers to anyone with an insulin resistance problem.
“Cinnamon can also help mitigate heavy menstrual bleeding associated with common conditions of female health, such as endometriosis, menorrhagia, and uterine fibroids.”
16* Cinnamon is effective in providing relief from menstrual discomfort and cramping: Instead of taking a commercial pain killer and muscle relaxant why not try a natural remedy? Again a word of caution. Pregnant women should NOT take Cinnamon although a cup of Cinnamon should NOT present any issues in most cases. Very large quantities of cinnamon may induce uterine contractions, which could induce miscarriage or early labor. Large doses could also depress the central nervous system.
17* If you drink Cinnamon Tea without sugar it will keep your mouth feeling fresh and germ free: It may also prevent tooth decay and gum disease as the strong anti-bacterial and disinfecting properties of Cinnamon keeps your mouth healthy and promotes oral hygiene. But one thing you need to remember is to brush your teeth after drinking tea or at least rinse your mouth with water so the tea won’t stain your teeth.
How to Include Cinnamon in Your Diet?
Even with all this evidence pointing to the wonders of cinnamon, we are absolutely not advocating you start guzzling it – it has been found to be toxic in large doses.
We are, however, wholeheartedly encouraging a little pinch (or stick) here and there in places you might otherwise have overlooked (in your tea or coffee, added to savory dishes, etc.) – if not for your overall health, for its undeniably enchanting aroma and flavor.
And while we all have fell victim to the irresistible smells wafting through an otherwise bleak airport experience, this does not make Cinnabon a free-for-all. Not only is it much better to use cinnamon in healthy recipes, but you’re going to want to source your cinnamon somewhere you trust for several reasons.
How Much Cinnamon Should I Eat?
Once you’ve got your hands on some true Ceylon cinnamon, the recommended dosage, according to the U.S. Department of Health, is up to 6 grams daily for 6 weeks or fewer.
“I would suggest a week rest after the 6 weeks, before beginning again,” says Farley. “Turmeric can be taken during the rest week since it has similar benefits.”
You can also reduce your cinnamon consumption to 5 days a week without a rest week, says Parehk, though she – and we – urge anyone starting a new supplement regimen to consult with a qualified practitioner first and to be very careful of over-consumption of cinnamon, no matter which variety you have. Overconsumption of cinnamon or even a rapid increase of consumption of cinnamon can have some adverse effects.
One, explains Dizon, is that cinnamon’s anti-bacterial properties do not distinguish between good or bad bacteria in the gut, meaning that you could find yourself facing some cinnamon-related digestive issues. “Incorporate fermented foods to replenish your stomach with good bacteria,” she suggests.
Our experts also warn against incorporating too much cinnamon into your diet if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a heavy menstrual cycle. If any of these things apply to you, please see a medical professional before adding cinnamon to your diet.
What Kind of Cinnamon Should I Use?
Not all cinnamons were created equal, so be careful what you buy.
“Nearly all the cinnamon in the grocery stores and health food stores is a cousin of true cinnamon,” explains Christina Major, a MS Holistic Nutritionist and Herbalist and the Health Recovery Expert of Crystal Holistic Health.
“Cinnamomum cassia, or Chinese cinnamon, has a very similar flavor and color, but it does not have the same health benefits,” she explains. “Only Cinnamomum verum provides the health benefits, and this is an expensive spice that is often illicitly substituted withCinnamomum cassia.”
When you are perusing the supermarket shelves, you’ll likely see Cinnamomum cassia sold as Chinese or Cassia cinnamon, whereas Cinnamomum verum will be sold as Ceylon cinnamon. According to our experts, you should opt for the latter.
If you do have Cassia cinnamon on your shelf already, you can try integrating it into your diet as well, but bear in mind a few important notes.
You likely will not find that the same benefits outlined with regards to Ceylon cinnamon hold true with Cassia. “That’s why most supplements and home remedies don’t work,” explains Major. “There isn’t enough active ingredient, because the manufacturer didn’t use the right cinnamon.”
Farley also warns that the Cassia variety should be consumed in very small doses. “Not more than 2 tsp. per day,” she suggests, “Since it has a higher concentration of courmarin, which can be harmful in large doses.” Courmarin can cause liver toxicity and have blood-thinning properties, so be sure to talk to your doctor before adding this or any sort of cinnamon to your diet if you are on blood thinners or liver medication.