Proven Health Benefits
There was a time, that cinnamon was more valuable than gold. The potential health benefits of cinnamon are astonishing.
To separate myth from fact several health experts were consulted to give their two cents on this favorite spice.
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.
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.
3. Cinnamon has antifungal, antibacterial, and even antiviral properties.
Cinnamon has been proven to fight fungal, bacterial, and viral elements in foods, thus preventing spoilage.
During the Middle Ages when food spoilage was frequent, many recipes, both sweet and savory, were flavored with cinnamon.
Consumers of cinnamon benefit from these properties,
Cinnamon can be used as part of a treatment for anything from lung problems to the common cold.
Denise Baron, a wellness educator explains it can help with 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 with other remedies.
But perhaps the most surprising use of cinnamon is in combating viruses. “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.”
4. 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.
5. Cinnamon may have anti-carcinogenic properties.
Evidence suggests that cinnamon may have anti-carcinogenic effects. Although the research was 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 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.
6. Anti-inflammatory properties.
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.
7. Cinnamon can help manage 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 is High in a Substance With Powerful Medicinal Properties
Cinnamon is a popular spice. It is high in a substance called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for most of the health benefits.
Cinnamon is Loaded With Antioxidants
Cinnamon contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants.
Cinnamon Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help lower the risk of disease.
Cinnamon May Cut the Risk of Heart Disease
In people with type 2 diabetes, 1 gram of cinnamon per day has beneficial effects on blood markers.
Cinnamon can improve some key risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
Cinnamon Can Improve Sensitivity to The Hormone Insulin
Insulin is one of the key hormones that regulate metabolism and energy use
It is also essential for the transport of blood sugar from the bloodstream and into cells.
The problem is that many people are resistant to the effects of insulin.
This condition, known as insulin resistance, is a hallmark of serious conditions like metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Well, the good news is that cinnamon can dramatically reduce insulin resistance, helping this incredibly important hormone to do its job.
By helping insulin do its job, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels, which brings us to the next point…
Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to significantly increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin.
Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Has a Powerful Anti-Diabetic Effect
Cinnamon is well known for its blood sugar lowering effects.
First, cinnamon has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal.
Numerous human trials have confirmed the anti-diabetic effects of cinnamon, showing that it can lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 10-29% (16, 17, 18).
The effective dose is typically 1-6 grams of cinnamon per day (around 0.5-2 teaspoons).
Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to both reduce fasting blood sugar levels, having a potent anti-diabetic effect at 1 to 6 grams per day
Cinnamon May Have Beneficial Effects on Neurodegenerative Diseases
Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by progressive loss of the structure or function of brain cells.
Two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the build-up of a protein called tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease
Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to lead to various improvements for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease in animal studies.
Cinnamon May Be Protective Against Cancer
Cinnamon Helps Fight Bacterial and Fungal Infections
The antimicrobial effects of cinnamon may also help prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath
Cinnamon oil has been shown to effectively treat respiratory tract infections caused by fungi
Cinnamon and The HIV Virus
HIV is a virus that slowly breaks down the immune system, which can eventually lead to AIDS. A laboratory study looking at HIV infected cells found that cinnamon was the most effective treatment of all 69 medicinal plants studied.
Bottom Line: Test tube studies have shown that cinnamon can help fight HIV-1, the main type of HIV virus in humans