9 Amazing Health Benefits of Cinnamon

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Nina Repar

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The most impressive health benefits of cinnamon include its ability to help prevent cancer, manage diabetes, protect against fungal and bacterial infections, increase brain function, prevent certain cognitive disorders, improve digestion, and boost the strength of the immune system.

What is Cinnamon?

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) is one of the most popular and recognized spices in the world, which is derived from the bark of several that fall within the Cinnamomum genus. The cinnamon tree is native to South and South-East Asia and China. Ceylon cinnamon or “true cinnamon” (Cinnamomum verum) is the species mostly found in Sri Lanka, whereas Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) is mainly grown in China, Indonesia and Vietnam. The two cinnamon species are often used interchangeably, though somewhat different in flavor and composition.

Cinnamon bark has been used for flavoring both sweet and savory dishes for thousands of years.

It has been mentioned in the ancient literature and used for medicinal purposes in old Egypt, China, and medieval Europe. Today, cinnamon is one of the most commonly used spices in the world. While the spice would be used regardless of the benefits, understanding the extra boost that cinnamon can give to your body is a bonus, particularly if you suffer from certain health conditions.

A bowl of cinnamon powder with cinnamon sticks on a table

Nutrition Facts

Spices, cinnamon, ground
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]10.58
Energy [kcal]247
Protein [g]3.99
Total lipid (fat) [g]1.24
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]80.59
Fiber, total dietary [g]53.1
Sugars, total [g]2.17
Calcium, Ca [mg]1002
Iron, Fe [mg]8.32
Magnesium, Mg [mg]60
Phosphorus, P [mg]64
Potassium, K [mg]431
Sodium, Na [mg]10
Zinc, Zn [mg]1.83
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]3.8
Thiamin [mg]0.02
Riboflavin [mg]0.04
Niacin [mg]1.33
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.16
Folate, DFE [µg]6
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]15
Vitamin A, IU [IU]295
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]2.32
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]31.2
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.35
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.25
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.07
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Benefits

Let’s look at some of the major health benefits of cinnamon sticks:

Diabetes Management

One of the most well-known benefits of cinnamon is its potential to reduce blood sugar levels in the body and fight diabetes, and here is how it works. As you digest food made of simple sugars and basic carbohydrates, the body goes through sugar spikes. Cinnamon can counter this effect and reduces the major influx of glucose into the bloodstream by chemically slowing the process of emptying your stomach.

So, cinnamon could help in balancing glucose levels, thereby preventing diabetic spikes and drops. By helping to regulate the insulin and glucose balance in the body, cinnamon can be both a preventative measure and an effective treatment for diabetes.

Anticancer Potential

Many studies have revealed that cinnamon is a very potent dietary addition for all who are looking to lower their risk of cancer.

Two substances, cinnamic aldehyde and cinnamyl aldehyde, present in cinnamon extracts can both actively prevent cancer cells from spreading, as per a 2010 research paper.

A study conducted by the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Kolkata, India, has found that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and apoptosis-inducing properties that help in killing harmful colon cancer cells. Another study published in the journal BMC Cancer revealed that cinnamon could also help eliminate cervical cancer cells.

A recent study published in the Science Heritage Journal discovered that cinnamon could also help fight human breast cancer cells. What’s more, cinnamon also shows promising results in fighting leukemia, ovarian, cancer, and lung cancer.

Because of its amazing cancer-fighting properties, cinnamon could be incorporated into a new drug to fight and prevent cancer in the future

Mental Health

There is a chemical connection between the brain and the scent/taste of cinnamon, so when research subjects have chewed cinnamon-flavored gum or simply smelled cinnamon, their cognitive activity increased.

So, if you need a brain boost, eat a cinnamon-heavy breakfast or take cinnamon supplements and see how quickly your mind starts working!

Bone Health

The high levels of magnesium and calcium found in cinnamon sticks give a significant boost to your bone health. This is because of magnesium and calcium help in preventing osteoporosis and boosting bone health into your old age. Cinnamon also contains manganese, a special microelement that is an essential co-factor in bone cartilage and bone collagen formation.

So, if you’d like to keep your bones healthy and strong as you age, cinnamon could be an important ally.

Cognitive Disorders

There is no known cure for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. However, consuming cinnamon capsules can stimulate new neural pathways and increase cognitive ability. This makes cinnamon a potentially useful remedy for keeping people lucid and aware for longer as they age.

Cinnamon could also be helpful against Parkinson’s disease and even reverse its effects on the brain.

Antioxidant Effects

Cinnamon bark contains various essential oils and organic compounds that can actively seek out and neutralize free radicals. These antioxidants in cinnamon are praised for their ability to improve heart health and also prevent certain chronic diseases that are exacerbated by the activity of free radicals.

Digestive Health

Ground cinnamon contains a certain amount of dietary fiber, which does a number of things for the digestive system. Firstly, fiber can stimulate peristaltic motion and boost the bulk of your stool. This helps in improving digestion and preventing constipation, bloating, and even more severe conditions like gastric ulcers. Furthermore, fiber can increase the binding of bile salts and eliminate them from the body before they cause any ill effects. Fiber present in cinnamon can also help to maintain heart health and prevent atherosclerosis by regulating cholesterol levels.

Antibacterial Effects

The natural antibacterial quality of cinnamon essential oil is more widely respected due to its potency.  Adding cinnamon supplements to your diet can also prevent certain fungal and bacterial infections from affecting your health. This is precisely why cinnamon was used as a food preservative for so many centuries; it can prevent the growth of dangerous pathogens.

Cold & Flu

Cinnamon sticks have a naturally warming quality, which has made them valuable for the treatment of the common cold and various forms of flu for generations. This warming ability can help fevers “break” and also prevent the onset of chills or pneumonia in cases of bronchitis.

Uses

Along with being used as traditional herbal medicine, cinnamon has also been used as a food preservative and as a spice for foods, including:

  • Bread and cakes
  • Chocolates and candies
  • Desserts
  • Beverages
  • Donuts
  • Cereals
  • Fruits
  • Meat and vegetable dishes
  • Curries and soups

The flavor of this brownish-gold spice makes it desirable in almost every cultural cuisine in some way.

Word of Caution: Despite all of cinnamon’s health benefits, there are also some risks with the use of cinnamon, especially in large quantities. The coumarin found in cinnamon sticks can be potentially allergenic, particularly in the Cassia variety of cinnamon; taking high doses of Cassia-derived cinnamon over a prolonged period should be avoided, as it can have a toxic effect on the body. Other than that, in controlled amounts, cinnamon is not commonly considered as an allergenic substance.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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