Cinnamon is a highly delicious spice.
It has been prized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years.
Modern science has now confirmed what people have known for ages.
Here are 6 health benefits of cinnamon that are supported by scientific research.
1. Cinnamon Is High in a Substance With Powerful Medicinal Properties
Cinnamon is a spice that is made from the inner bark of trees scientifically known as Cinnamomum.
It has been used as an ingredient throughout history, dating back as far as Ancient Egypt. It used to be rare and valuable and was regarded as a gift fit for kings.
These days, cinnamon is cheap, available in every supermarket and found as an ingredient in various foods and recipes.
There are two main types of cinnamon (1):
Ceylon cinnamon: Also known as "true" cinnamon.
Cassia cinnamon: The more common variety today and what people generally refer to as "cinnamon."
Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of cinnamon trees. The inner bark is then extracted and the woody parts removed.
When it dries, it forms strips that curl into rolls, called cinnamon sticks. These sticks can be ground to form cinnamon powder.
The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon are due to the oily part, which is very high in the compound cinnamaldehyde (2).
Scientists believe that this compound is responsible for most of cinnamon's powerful effects on health and metabolism.
Cinnamon is a popular spice. It’s high in cinnamaldehyde, which is thought to be responsible for most of cinnamon’s health benefits.
2. Cinnamon Is Loaded With Antioxidants
Antioxidants protect your body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols (3, 4, 5).
In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, cinnamon wound up as the clear winner, even outranking "superfoods" like garlic and oregano (6).
In fact, it is so powerful that cinnamon can be used as a natural food preservative (7).
Cinnamon contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants.
3. Cinnamon Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Inflammation is incredibly important.
It helps your body fight infections and repair tissue damage.
However, inflammation can become a problem when it’s chronic and directed against your body's own tissues.
Cinnamon may be useful in this regard. Studies show that this spice and its antioxidants have potent anti-inflammatory properties (8, 9).
The antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help lower your risk of disease.
4. Cinnamon May Cut the Risk of Heart Disease
Cinnamon has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, the world's most common cause of premature death.
In people with type 2 diabetes, 1 gram or about half a teaspoon of cinnamon per day has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood markers.
It reduces levels of total cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while “good” HDL cholesterol remains stable (10).
More recently, a big review study concluded that a cinnamon dose of just 120 mg per day can have these effects. In this study, cinnamon also increased “good” HDL cholesterol levels (11).
In animal studies, cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood pressure (3).
When combined, all these factors may drastically cut your risk of heart disease.
Cinnamon may improve some key risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
5. Cinnamon Can Improve Sensitivity to the Hormone Insulin
Insulin is one of the key hormones that regulate metabolism and energy use.
It’s also essential for transporting blood sugar from your bloodstream to your cells.
The problem is that many people are resistant to the effects of insulin.
This is known as insulin resistance, a hallmark of serious conditions like metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
The good news is that cinnamon can dramatically reduce insulin resistance, helping this important hormone do its job (12, 13).
By increasing insulin sensitivity, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels.
Cinnamon has been shown to significantly increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin.
6. Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Has a Powerful Anti-Diabetic Effect
Cinnamon is well known for its blood-sugar-lowering properties.
Apart from the beneficial effects on insulin resistance, cinnamon can lower blood sugar by several other mechanisms.
First, cinnamon has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters your bloodstream after a meal.
It does this by interfering with numerous digestive enzymes, which slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in your digestive tract (14, 15).
Second, a compound in cinnamon can act on cells by mimicking insulin (16, 17).
This greatly improves glucose uptake by your cells, though it acts much slower than insulin itself.
Numerous human studies have confirmed the anti-diabetic effects of cinnamon, showing that it can lower fasting blood sugar levels by 10–29% (18, 19, 20).
The effective dose is typically 1–6 grams or around 0.5–2 teaspoons of cinnamon per day.
Cinnamon has been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar levels, having a potent anti-diabetic effect at 1–6 grams or 0.5–2 teaspoons per day.