Cinnamon is a great ingredient that is full of antioxidants and can help reduce overall inflammation.
Below are 6 research-backed benefits of using cinnamon in your diet:
6 benefits of cinnamon
1. It’s rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents
When researchers compared the antioxidant effects of 26 different spices, cinnamon ranked even higher than oregano and garlic, both of which are known as superfoods (3).
Cinnamon’s antioxidant performance also makes it an excellent natural choice for food preservation (4).
2. It can help reduce system inflammation
Taming inflammation is another area where cinnamon shines. While inflammatory activity is one of the body’s defenses against infection and also works to repair tissue damage, ongoing chronic inflammation is one marker indicating a higher risk for developing chronic diseases.
Inflammation can also be very destructive when its target is the body’s own tissues, such as with autoimmune diseases like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis. Studies show the powerful antioxidants found in cinnamon can help reduce inflammation.
3. It may help improve insulin sensitivity
Insulin is integral to the transport of blood glucose to cells, and when people develop insulin resistance, the next step can be a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. The compounds in cinnamon can reduce insulin resistance dramatically, which makes it easier for insulin to perform its vital role in delivering necessary energy for cell function (5, 6).
4. It can support healthy blood sugar management
Cinnamon also helps regulate blood sugar levels after meals, decreasing the amount of glucose entering the bloodstream. As such, the process happens more gradually rather than all at once. One of the mechanisms affecting blood glucose levels is associated with the inhibition of digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates (7).
Other anti-diabetic qualities of cinnamon have been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar levels by 10% to 29% (10, 11). It takes only a little cinnamon to produce these effects; trials used amounts varying between half a teaspoon and two teaspoons daily.
5. It can help reduce the risk of various chronic diseases
More people die prematurely each year worldwide from heart disease than any other cause, and the use of cinnamon has been linked with reducing the risk of this deadly disease.
People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes taking a gram of cinnamon daily experience a reduction in total cholesterol, along with lower levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and blood triglycerides. Levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind) stay the same. (12).
A review of multiple studies indicated as little as 120 milligrams of cinnamon daily can exert the same positive effects as a larger dose, and can even raise HDL cholesterol levels (13). Animal studies suggest cinnamon may also be effective in dropping blood pressure (14).
The combination of these positive effects could make cinnamon extremely promising for preventing heart disease. Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are becoming more common in modern times, compromising the structure and function of brain cells in a progressive manner.
Animal studies indicate cinnamon can be helpful in normalizing neurotransmitter levels and improving motor function in mice with Parkinson’s disease (17). Further research may establish whether the same effect can be achieved with humans.
A host of laboratory studies using test tubes experiments and animals have focused on how cinnamon affects the uncontrolled growth of cells in cancer. It appears that extracts of cinnamon can inhibit the growth of cancer cells and even cause cell death. Blood vessels in tumors form at slower rates as well, offering the potential of protection against this devastating disease (18, 19, 20).
Research conducted on mice with colon cancer also showed promising results. Cinnamon discouraged further growth of cancer cells through activating detoxifying enzymes in the colon (21).
Laboratory experiments using cinnamon with human colon cancer cells in test tubes show similar conclusions (22).
6. It can help fight off infections
Cinnamaldehyde is the most powerful active compound in cinnamon and has been found to have properties that help fight infection. Respiratory tract infections resulting from exposure to fungi have responded well to treatment with cinnamon oil, and the growth of certain bacteria, such as salmonella and listeria, are also inhibited by cinnamon (23, 24).
Compounds found in cinnamon may also lead to the development of new approaches for treating the HIV-1 virus, which is the most common strain infecting humans. When researchers tested 69 medicinal plants for their effects on the HIV-1 virus, cinnamon outperformed all others (27).
These experiments were done in the laboratory with Cassia cinnamon, so trials with human subjects will be needed to determine real-life results (28).
Cinnamon benefits FAQ
Can cinnamon be used to lose weight? Although cinnamon provides a plethora of health benefits, weight loss is not one of them. However, you might be able to use cinnamon tactically to flavor certain healthy foods in an attempt to stay away from more sugary treats. This is especially true if you use Ceylon cinnamon.
Can cinnamon sticks be used as an essential oil? Yes, cinnamon sticks can be used to make essential oil. Cinnamaldehyde is the main chemical ingredient taken from the cinnamon bark oil. You can use this to form an essential oil ideal for infusing or for adding a nice fragrance to your space.
However, we’d recommend not breathing it in directly or in high amounts since as there is a lack of science proving its safety. You should always dilute it and ensure the essential oil diffuser is positioned in a large, open room with windows that have access to fresh air.
Some cinnamon strains can be dangerous at high doses. If you’re considering using cinnamon to improve existing health conditions, the strain can make a difference. Commonly found in supermarkets, Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, which can be harmful in large quantities. Ceylon cinnamon has much lower amounts of coumarin and is considered the safer choice for medicinal use (29).
While cinnamon supplements can provide a whole host of excellent health benefits, there’s also the risk of minor to moderate side effects depending on how much you take. You need to pay attention to your dosage levels so that you don’t eat too much cinnamon, specifically of the “Cassia” variety.
Cinnamon may cause organ damage. Cassia cinnamon contains a compound called coumarin, which has been linked to liver damage and may increase your risk of cancer (30). Your total tolerable daily intake of coumarin should only be around 0.05 mg per pound of bodyweight. A single teaspoon of Cassia cinnamon could be a little too much for your liver to bear.
While there are no government-set dosages for cinnamon supplements or cinnamon powder, you’ll want to avoid taking too much because of the possible side effects. In general, it’s safe to take between 2 and 4 g of cinnamon powder per day, although some people can tolerate larger amounts of around 6 g of cinnamon every day.
We’d recommend keeping the dosage mild when first starting out to see if you have an allergic reaction to the powder or if it interacts with any other medications you might be taking.
Typical cinnamon capsule supplements will come in concentrations between 1000 and 2000 mg. This means most daily cinnamon supplements are pretty safe within the recommended daily intake amounts. For those just starting out, there are 500mg capsules available for your convenience.
Related: Our best cinnamon picks.
Cinnamon is a great supplement to incorporate into your diet.
It’s certainly possible to get enough daily cinnamon from natural foods. However, most people won’t reach the daily recommended limit since cinnamon is mostly used as a spicing agent for desserts and other treats. Thus, you’d have to eat lots of relatively unhealthy food to reach the same amount of cinnamon as you would get from a single supplement capsule.