If you're feeling guilty for having that cinnamon roll or slice of apple pie, don't -- the cinnamon spice in this sweet treat can give you something to feel good about. Cinnamon can help manage your blood sugar and decrease your risks of heart disease and some cancer. Add cinnamon to your dishes for a flavorful and quick way to boost your health.
Manage Your Blood Sugar
Cinnamon can help you avoid blood sugar spikes and the energy crashes that inevitably follow. A study in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" reported a significant decrease in insulin concentration with meals containing 3 grams of cinnamon compared to the same meals without cinnamon. The cinnamon enhanced the functioning of insulin receptors, which meant less insulin was needed to bring down blood sugar. Studies in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" and "Nutrition Research" found that cinnamon supplements, whole cinnamon and cinnamon extracts all decreased fasting blood-glucose levels in diabetic patients.
Decrease Heart Disease Risk
You may not be worrying about heart disease, but carrying a bit of extra weight or having high blood pressure or high cholesterol can put you at risk of developing this condition. One tablespoon of cinnamon contains 4 grams of fiber, which meets 16 percent of your daily needs. Fiber helps keep you feeling full so that you can maintain a better handle on your weight. A study in the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" reported that cinnamon supplements decreased blood pressure and body fat and increased lean body mass. Another study in the "International Journal of Experimental Medicine" reported that cinnamon lowered cholesterol and decreased the oxidative damage that leads to heart disease. This is because cinnamon helps activate antioxidant enzymes, which protect against oxidation.
Decrease Cancer Risk
Cinnamon's ability to activate antioxidants can strengthen your immune system and help protect you from cancer. A study in "Molecules" reported that cinnamon extracts activated the antioxidant response of human colon cells, which can help prevent colon cancer. Another study in "BMC Cancer" tested the action of cinnamon extract on cancer and found that cinnamon prevents tumors from growing and spreading and causes the death of some cancer cells.
Cinnamon is a more versatile spice than you may realize. The warmth and aroma of this spice can complement sweet and savory dishes. Start your day off right by sprinkling some cinnamon on your oatmeal or yogurt. While boiling chicken, throw in a cinnamon stick to add some extra flavor and mask any unpleasant smells. Cinnamon also pairs nicely with beef and pork, particularly in chilies or stews. If you choose to take cinnamon as a supplement, the usual dosage is 1 or 2 grams per day. Consult your doctor before taking a supplement to determine the dosage that works best for you.
- Journal of Medicinal Food: Cinnamon Intake Lowers Fasting Blood Glucose: Meta-Analysis
- Nutrition Research: Cinnamon Extract Improves Fasting Blood Glucose and Glycosylated Hemoglobin Level in Chinese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes
- Nutrition Data: Know What You Eat
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Effects of a Water-Soluble Cinnamon Extract on Body Composition and Features of the Metabolic Syndrome in Pre-Diabetic Men and Women
- International Journal of Experimental Medicine: Oxidative Markers, Nitric Oxide and Homocysteine Alteration in Hypercholesterolimic Rats: Role of Atorvastatine and Cinnamon
- Molecules: The Cinnamon-Derived Dietary Factor Cinnamic Aldehyde Activates the Nrf2-Dependent Antioxidant Response in Human Epithelial Colon Cells
- BMC Cancer: Cinnamon Extract Induces Tumor Cell Death through Inhibition of NFkappaB and AP1.
Khadejah Makkieh is a registered dietitian with a passion for writing, teaching and cooking. She earned a Master of Science in nutrition from Texas Woman's University and is currently working as a college instructor. Makkieh's writing has also been featured in the FASEB science journal.