Cinnamon is a very common spice found in most kitchens that can add a delicious warming flavor to both sweet and savory dishes, but what isn’t always known is how incredibly healthy this spice is from a healing and health boosting perspective. While it’s been prized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years, modern science has now confirmed just how incredibly beneficial it is. Below, we cover 13 of the many benefits cinnamon has to offer as well as several delicious recipes you can make with this nutritious ingredient:
There are two main types of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon, which is thought to be the true cinnamon, as well as the more common variety, Cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon offers a stronger and hotter taste than Ceylon cinnamon, known to have lighter, brighter citrus notes, yet both are equally nutritious. And both types’ distinct smell and flavor comes from the oily part, which is high in a compound called cinnamaldehyde—responsible for the majority of their health benefits.
- It may help lower the risk of heart disease.
Cinnamon has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, which is the most popular cause of premature death in the world. Research has found that it can reduce levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while keeping HDL cholesterol levels stable. Another study discovered that a dose of just 120 milligrams per day can provide these effects, even increasing the “good” cholesterol known as HDL. Animal studies have also discovered that cinnamon can reduce blood pressure.
- It’s chock-full of beneficial antioxidants.
Cinnamon is full of incredibly powerful antioxidants, which shield the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. One study, which compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, discovered that cinnamon came in at number one.
- It’s a natural food preservative.
In a day and age where the majority of our store-bought foods are laden with harmful preservatives, it’s nice to know that there are options out there. Cinnamon, for instance, is so powerful, that it can be used as a natural food preservative.
- It’s anti-inflammatory.
While inflammation is important in fighting infections and repairing tissue damage, too much of it can lead to long-term health issues. Cinnamon has been found in some studies to be a powerful anti-inflammatory.
- It can reduce insulin resistance.
Insulin works to bring blood sugar from the bloodstream into the cells, but many people prove to be Insulin resistant. This can lead to serious conditions such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon has been shown to significantly decrease insulin resistance, however.
- It can provide an anti-diabetic effect.
Along with working against insulin resistance, cinnamon can also lower blood sugar by decreasing the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal by interfering with various digestive enzymes. This decreases the rate at which carbohydrates are broken down in the digestive tract. Cinnamon can also mimic insulin. Research has also concluded that the spice has anti-diabetic effects, proving that it lowers fasting blood sugar levels by up to 29 percent.
- It may work against neurodegenerative diseases.
Two of the most common types of such diseases, which result in a progressive loss of the structure of function of brain cells, are Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Two compounds found in cinnamon may hinder the buildup of the protein tau in the brain, the main component of Alzheimer’s disease. One study also discovered that cinnamon works to protect neurons, as well as normalize neurotransmitter levels and boost motor function.
- It may protect against cancer.
Cinnamon has been studied extensively for its potential cancer prevention and treatment. Research has concluded that the spice reduces the growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels in tumors. It is thought that cinnamon is toxic to cancer cells, thereby causing cell death.
- It has antibacterial and antifungal effects.
Cinnamon’s main active component, cinnamaldehyde, may combat various infections. In fact, cinnamon oil has been shown to heal respiratory tract infections caused by fungi. It can even hinder the growth of bacteria like Listeria and Salmonella, as well as prevent tooth decay.
- It can help manage PCOS.
PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is characterized by a plethora of symptoms that must be managed. Cinnamon may help alleviate a variety of the issues, including managing insulin resistance in women with PCOS, which can lead to weight gain. The spice may also help to alleviate heavy menstrual bleeding by stimulating blood flow away from the uterus.
- It can soothe a sore throat or cough.
Due to its antibacterial properties, cinnamon may help certain sore throats, while its warming properties can boost blood flow and blood oxygen levels to aid in fighting infection. Traditional Chinese medicine attributes cinnamon as a useful mechanism for combating phlegmy coughs.
- It can relieve symptoms of ADHD.
Though many people are prescribed synthetic pills to counteract symptoms of ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, cinnamon may be a safer alternative. In fact, children with ADHD given cinnamon aromatherapy along with rehabilitation showed a significant decrease in symptoms.
- It can boost brain function.
Research has found that the potent scent of cinnamon is enough to boost brain function. Presented at the 2004 annual meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, participants of the study who smelled cinnamon, or chewed cinnamon-flavored gum, had improved scores on tasks related to memory, attention and visual-motor skills.