Here’s what I’ll cover in this post:
- Three health benefits of cinnamon
- Ceylon Cinnamon vs Cassia: Which is safer and how much to use?
- Cinnamon allergies
- Cinnamon and safety for pregnancy, breastfeeding and small children
- How to use cinnamon and delicious cinnamon tea recipes (new one with honey and lime!)
Weight Loss Benefits of CinnamonWhen you add cinnamon to your nut butter toast (preferably on high-fiber bread like Ezekiel bread!) you’re actually turning up the heat under the fat cells on your body. Cinnamaldehyde, the essential oil that gives cinnamon its unique spicy-sweet flavor, was studied for its effects on obesity. Scientists noticed an increase in fat metabolism and certain genes causing thermogenesis (1), an activation of fat-burning processes in the body. It targets belly fat in particular, which is a major problem spot for many women, and is linked to serious health problems (2). The health benefits of cinnamon also include making the body more sensitive to insulin (3), which helps prevent extra fat storage. More importantly, though, this also helps protect your body against diabetes and can help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels (4) to stay healthier. Another way cinnamon benefits you is by mimicking the sweetness of sugar, without wreaking havoc on your glucose levels. In fact, it improves them (5)! When you replace sugar and sweet drinks with cinnamon, you help your blood sugar stabilize, avoid excess fat storage and satisfy your sweet tooth. You get to enjoy a gentle spicy sweet taste and all the sweet benefits that come along with it.
Benefits of Cinnamon: AntioxidantsCinnamon has the third-highest antioxidant content (6) compared to other antioxidant-rich herbs and spices — only cloves and allspice containing more. A study in Nutrition Journal showed that the health benefits of cinnamon come from powerful natural antioxidants and the prevention of dangerous oxidation of lipids in foods. This fights free radicals, which is a well-known way to prevent cancer. Some research even suggests that cinnamon has anti-tumor properties to prevent further cancer growth and “can decrease the chances of metastasis or the spread of cancer through tumorous growth (7).” Another benefit of zapping free radicals is minimizing age spots (8) and other signs of aging that show on the face. It’s antimicrobial properties also make cinnamon a great way to treat acne (9). It also slows the growth of bacteria (10) causing the common cold, the flu, and other illnesses. The health benefits of Cinnamon also include improved blood flow (4) and blood clot prevention. Cinnamon benefits you further by improving blood flow (4) and preventing blood clots. All of these things help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke (4). Who knew a sweet little spice could have such a big impact?!
Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of CinnamonInflammation is natural in the body. It’s your natural defense against foreign invaders and helps the body heal itself. However, inflammation can become a problem when it’s chronic (long-term) and directed against the body’s own tissues (11). This can happen with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Studied for its effects on MS, researchers found that cinnamon seems to have anti-inflammatory effects on the central nervous system (12). This could reduce symptoms and help the body and mind function better. Cinnamon’s anti-inflammatory properties also help improve cholesterol (13), lower the risk of heart disease, and slow brain function decline. Reducing heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels (14),are another incredible example of the health benefits of cinnamon. It can even lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and maintain “good” HDL cholesterol (15) levels in the blood. Studies have also found the anti-inflammatory compounds in cinnamon could be used for treatment or prevention of inflammation-related neurodegenerative diseases (15) such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. As if cinnamon wasn’t doing enough, its antiviral, antifungal (11), and antiseptic properties boost immunity (16) and help your body fight common infections.
Ceylon Cinnamon vs CassiaDid you know there are different kinds of cinnamon? It’s not just a subtle difference in taste that differentiates them. The two most common types of cinnamon are ceylon and cassia. Here are some major differences between them. There is one BIG difference between Ceylon and cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon contains a compound called coumarin, which can be toxic in large doses. Coumarin has been linked to kidney, liver and lung damage or even cancer in rodents. Unfortunately, there are also isolated incidents of similar negative effects in humans (20). Too much cassia cinnamon could actually supply carcinogens (which can lead to cancer) in humans. Coumarin might worsen (or cause) liver or kidney damage (17). If you have a kidney or liver condition, avoid cinnamon and check with your doctor about whether it’s safe for you at all.
How Much Cinnamon Is Safe?It would be fairly easy to have too much coumarin if you are consuming a lot of Cassia cinnamon. More than 1 teaspoon could bring someone over the daily limit. Therefore, if you eat a lot of cinnamon on a regular basis or take a cinnamon supplement, only use Ceylon cinnamon, not Cassia. Ceylon cinnamon is safer, but still a powerful herb. (21) Test starting with lower amounts and see what agrees with you. A sprinkle here or there throughout your day is perfectly safe.
Side Effects of Too Much CinnamonCinnamon is generally safe for most people in small amounts. But cinnamon isn’t for everyone. The benefits of ground cinnamon don’t outweigh the effects of cinnamon allergies. Around 2 percent of people with food allergies are allergic to spices, and of those, cinnamon is a common spice allergy. (22)
Possible cinnamon allergic reaction:You may have an allergy to cinnamon if you experience these symptoms (22) after having it:
- A runny nose
- Eyes itch and water
- Skin rash
- Shortness of breath
- Upset stomach
- Slightly swollen throat, tongue, or lips