We all love cinnamon in our baked goods, pastries, and herbal teas. But did you know this super food has so many health benefits? This “spice of life” has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties.
Here are 10 amazing benefits of cinnamon that even modern medical science can appreciate:
1.) Cinnamon’s Medicinal Properties
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of trees of the Cinnamomum genus. The spice has been popular as food and medicine for many thousands of years. People used it even as far back as Ancient Egypt. Cinnamon used to be a valuable luxury. It was reserved for royalty and the wealthy. This is a big contrast to today. In modern times, cinnamon is very cheap and common.
There are over 300 species of tree in the Cinnamomum genus. But, there are just two types of cinnamon used today (1):
- Ceylon cinnamon – It’s also referred to as “real” cinnamon.
- Cassia cinnamon – This is what is most often found in stores nowadays.
This spice originates by cutting off stems from the cinnamon tree. Then, you take out the inner bark and remove the tougher woody parts. The inner bark dries. It curls up into the rolls we know as cinnamon sticks. We can then grind these sticks up into cinnamon powder.
This is what gives cinnamon its spicy aroma and flavor. This compound is to thank for the many health benefits of cinnamon and how it effects your metabolism.
2.) Cinnamon Can Fight HIV
HIV is a type of virus. It gradually destroys your immune system. When left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS. This is a deadly disease.
The HIV-1 strain of the virus is the most common strain in humans.
One study looked at the effect of 68 different medicinal plants on HIV. It determined that cinnamon was the most effective out of all of them.(5)
More research should be done on humans to confirm this.
3.) Cinnamon Is an Anti-Microbial
The compound cinnamaldehyde gives the benefit of fighting infection. It works for many types of infection, including bacterial and fungal infections. For example, it treats fungal respiratory tract infections. It also seems to keep certain bacteria from growing. It works for dangerous bacteria like Salmonella and Listeria. (6, 7)
Oral health depends on low bacteria levels in the mouth. Cinnamon reduces bacteria. So, it can help with your oral health. By killing bacteria, it will help prevent tooth decay. It’s also great for preventing bad breath. Bad breath is also caused by bacteria. (8, 9)
4.) Cinnamon Has Anti-Cancer Properties
Cancer features the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. This is a very serious and risky disease. Cinnamon has potential in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
Scientists believe that cinnamon works by reducing cancerous growth in cells. Cinnamon is toxic to cancerous cells, causing their death. It also appears to reduce the growth of blood vessels inside tumors.
There was a study done on mice that had colon cancer. Giving the mice cinnamon seemed to keep the cancer from growing further. (15)
Researchers believe that this was because the spice activates enzymes. These enzymes detox the colon. The same effect is present in humans. Cinnamon triggers a protective response in human colon cells as well. (16)
Again, more research is necessary. It may confirm that cinnamon treats cancer. Its potential is still very promising.
5.) Cinnamon Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory
Inflammation in your body has some benefits. These include repairing damage and fighting infection. However, inflammation is harmful when it lasts a long time. It’s also harmful if it acts toward your own body tissues.
Cinnamon is great to reduce this problem. Many studies prove this fact. The antioxidants in cinnamon are responsible for this effect. (17)
Cinnamon makes your body less inflamed. This is why it can help reduce your risk of disease.
6.) Cinnamon is a Great Source of Antioxidants
Free radicals are molecules that can damage your body’s cells. Antioxidants are compounds that prevent this cell damage. Antioxidants are present in great amounts in cinnamon. The main type of antioxidant in cinnamon is polyphenols. (17, 18, 19)
Yet a study compared 26 different spices and found that cinnamon was the best. Cinnamon is very powerful. It can even be a natural preservative for foods. (21)
7.) Cinnamon Helps Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is a very important hormone. It plays a huge role in metabolism and energy. The hormone is necessary to transport sugar from the blood into cells. If your body is resistant to insulin, it is a big problem. Insulin resistance is a big part of serious diseases like type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
When insulin works better, blood sugar levels lower and become more stable. This explains why cinnamon provides the next benefit on the list.
8.) Cinnamon Can Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
The most common global cause of early death is heart disease. Cinnamon helps reduce the risk of this illness. It’s also helpful if you have diabetes. Taking cinnamon if you have diabetes can improve your blood markers.
It seems there is almost no end to cinnamon’s benefits. The spice lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood. (24)
A large study found that just 120 milligrams of the spice each day will help. Plus, your levels of “good” cholesterol will stay the same. They could even increase. (25)
Yet another benefit is that cinnamon lowers blood pressure. The benefits for blood markers, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure combine. The end result is that your risk of heart disease will drop.
9.) Cinnamon Can Relieve Neurodegenerative Diseases
Taking cinnamon helps protect neurons. It also balances levels of neurotransmitters. (29)
It also improves motor function. These were the results of a study done on mice who had Parkinson’s disease. More research is necessary to prove that this also works in humans. But, it is still promising.
10.) Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar, Preventing and Relieving Diabetes
One great effect of cinnamon is that it can lower your blood sugar. This is not just due to the spice’s effects on insulin resistance. Rather, cinnamon lowers your blood sugar in several other ways.
Here is one example. Taking cinnamon with a meal is great. It lowers the amount of sugar that enters your blood after eating. It is able to do this because it has an effect of digestive enzymes. (30, 31)
Enzymes are responsible for breaking down carbohydrates so your body can absorb them. If you disturb the enzymes, the carbohydrates absorb more slowly. This makes your blood sugar more stable.
Here is another way that cinnamon helps blood sugar. It mimicks the effects of insulin. This means that it helps sugar get into your cells and out of your blood. This lowers your blood sugar and gives you more energy. (32, 33)
You don’t need much cinnamon to get the benefits. A good dose is between one and six grams of the spice. This is about one-half to two teaspoons per day.
Opt for Ceylon for “True” Cinnamon Benefits
Not cinnamon in your local super market is created equal. The Ceylon cinnamon variety is ideal. This is because Cassia cinnamon has a lot of coumarin. Coumarin is a compound that can be harmful in large amounts.
Both types give health benefits. But, Cassia cinnamon could cause problems due to the coumarin. Ceylon cinnamon has much lower coumarin levels. (37)
Most supermarket cinnamon is Cassia cinnamon. You will have to do a bit of extra searching to find Ceylon cinnamon.
Cinnamon delicious in many recipes, and it is super-healthy. It is an:
It also decreases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and brain diseases.
Cinnamon is very easy to incorporate into your diet. Use it in cooking, or drink cinnamon herbal teas with each meal. You can also take cinnamon dietary supplement pills. This can be very convenient.
When purchasing cinnamon, just remember to use organic ceylon cinnamon. That way, you’ll get the most cinnamon benefits.
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