10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon
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 instinctively known for ages.
Here are 10 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 called 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 in all sorts of foods and recipes.
There are two main types of cinnamon (1):
- Ceylon cinnamon: Also known as “true” cinnamon.
- Cassia cinnamon: This is the more common variety today, what people generally refer to as “cinnamon.”
Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of the cinnamomum tree. The inner bark is then extracted and the woody parts removed from it.
When it dries, it forms strips that curl into rolls, called cinnamon sticks. The sticks can be ground to form cinnamon powder.
This is what cinnamon looks like:
The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon is due to the oily part, which is very high in a compound called cinnamaldehyde (2).
It is this compound that is responsible for most of cinnamon’s powerful effects on health and metabolism.
Bottom Line: Cinnamon is a popular spice. It is high in a substance called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for most of the health benefits.
2. Cinnamon is Loaded With Antioxidants
Antioxidants protect the 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).
Bottom Line: Cinnamon contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants.
3. Cinnamon Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Inflammation in the body is incredibly important.
It helps the body fight infections and repair tissue damage.
However, inflammation can become a problem when it is chronic (long-term) and directed against the body’s own tissues.
Cinnamon may be useful in this regard, because some studies show that the antioxidants in it have potent anti-inflammatory activity (3).
Bottom Line: The antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help lower the risk of disease.
4. Cinnamon May Cut the Risk of Heart Disease
Cinnamon has been linked with reduced risk of heart disease, the world’s most common cause of premature death.
In people with type 2 diabetes, 1 gram of cinnamon per day has beneficial effects on blood markers.
It reduces levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while HDL cholesterol remains stable (8).
More recently, a big review study concluded that a cinnamon dose of just 120 milligrams per day can have these effects. In this study, cinnamon also increased HDL (the “good”) cholesterol (9).
In animal studies, cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood pressure (3).
When combined, all these factors may drastically cut the risk of heart disease.
Bottom Line: Cinnamon can 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 is also essential for the transport of blood sugar from the bloodstream and into cells.
The problem is that many people are resistant to the effects of insulin.
This condition, known as insulin resistance, is a hallmark of serious conditions like metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Well, the good news is that cinnamon can dramatically reduce insulin resistance, helping this incredibly important hormone to do its job (10, 11).
By helping insulin do its job, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels, which brings us to the next point…
Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to significantly increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin.
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