3 potential health benefits of cinnamon – Cleveland Clinic

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During the holidays, nothing like indulging yourself and savoring a spicy and sweet dessert. However, baking these sugary treats is often just as enjoyable – in many cases, as they fill kitchens with the warm, inviting scent of cinnamon.

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Besides helping desserts burst with flavor, the ancient spice is also used in savory dishes, such as baked chicken with cinnamon and thyme or spicy shepherd’s pie with lamb and vegetables.

Some studies have also shown that cinnamon may provide certain health benefits. Dietitian Candace O’Neill RD, LDN, explains why this versatile spice can boost the body – and some healthy ways to add cinnamon to your meal rotation.

Is cinnamon good for you?

Spices such as ginger are often touted as tasty and healthy. Cinnamon, which is actually the bark of a tree, can also have health benefits.

It has anti-inflammatory properties

Herbs and spices often contain antioxidantspowerful compounds that may lower your risk of developing heart disease. In fact, O’Neill says cinnamon’s benefits are believed to come from one of its antioxidant compounds, cinnamaldehyde, which gives it that rich aroma and flavor and can reduce inflammation as well.

Cinnamon is also a staple of the Mediterranean diet, a heart-healthy way of eating that emphasizes cooking with herbs and spices. “American food culture doesn’t have many of these naturally occurring spices incorporated into our diet,” says O’Neill. “Because we live in this fast-paced and busy society, much of our food is packaged and prepared in advance. Many of these powerful antioxidants are lacking in our diets.

It can help lower blood sugar levels

For decades, scientists have researched whether cinnamon could help people with Type 2 diabetes reduce their blood sugar levels. A to study found that people on insulin therapy who took daily cinnamon supplements saw marked (and lasting) decreases after a 40-day regimen. “When people stopped taking cinnamon, they saw some lingering benefits, which was that blood sugar levels remained lower than when the test started,” O’Neill said.

However, cinnamon should not be seen as a substitute for a more traditional treatment. In fact, the American Diabetes Association specifically States cinnamon “is not as effective as your type 2 diabetes medication” and notes that supplements “do nothing to help people with type 2 diabetes meet treatment goals or provide reliable lowering of blood sugar “.

May help lower cholesterol

Participants in the same study above also had improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels in addition to lower blood sugar levels. A separate meta-analysis of 10 studies also found that consuming cinnamon daily resulted in a “statistically significant” decrease in total cholesterol, as well as LDL, or bad cholesterol.

However, as the amount of cinnamon in a dose varies, as does the length of time you take additional cinnamon, it is not possible to say for sure that the spice can be used as a treatment to lower high cholesterol.

What types of cinnamon can you buy?

When looking for cinnamon to cook, you are probably going to buy ground cinnamon which you can find in the spice section of your grocery store. However, you can also buy cinnamon sticks or cinnamon tea, while cinnamon oil is also popular as a flavoring for candy or hard cider.

And although cinnamon is also available as an essential oil, it is not recommended as a health booster, as most studies are done using dried cinnamon or supplements.

There are two common types of cinnamon:

  • Cassia cinnamon. Native to southern China, it’s the most common (and relatively inexpensive) type of cinnamon you can buy in grocery stores and use for baking.
  • Cinnamon from Ceylon. This type of cinnamon is less common – in fact, you usually have to buy it from a specialty spice store – and it has a more fragrant scent. Ceylon cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka and southern India.

Can cinnamon be harmful?

Cinnamon Cassia has a compound, coumarin, which can be poisonous if ingested in large amounts. “It can actually cause liver damage,” says O’Neill. While it is difficult to achieve dangerous levels of coumarin by cooking with cinnamon, taking too much of a dietary supplement – for example, a concentrated cinnamon pill – could be potentially toxic. Additionally, the amount of cinnamon in a pill does not always match what is advertised on supplement labels. “This is why quality supplements are so important,” says O’Neill.

How to cook with cinnamon

Because cinnamon comes in many forms, it is commonly found in sweet and savory dishes. For example, you can put a cinnamon stick as a garnish for hot apple cider to add flavor. A pinch of ground cinnamon on popcorn or other salty snack foods adds heat. And cinnamon and sugar also go hand in hand, which means they’re great on toast, baked goods, and other desserts.

Other healthy recipes with cinnamon include:

If you’re not ready to whip up an elaborate dinner, O’Neill says adding cinnamon to a smoothie, yogurt, or oatmeal “can provide that delicious sweetness and really make a meal feel satisfying and flavorful” while you. potentially offering health benefits.

“It’s a great addition to your diet, and it can really be a helpful way to reduce your intake of added sugars,” she says. “You can use the sweetness he brings to a recipe to reduce bitterness – or just add a little something to a meal.”


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