Cinnamon has long been touted as having many health benefits. Many reports seem to suggest that adding it to your diet can have an overall good effect on your health.
Cinnamon tastes good on desserts. Should we add it liberally to foods?
Before you reach for a bottle of cinnamon supplements, remember this: there is no magic pill that will transform an other wise unhealthy lifestyle.
The pros and cons of adding cinnamon to your diet
There is much information out there and it takes careful analysis. For every study online says that taking cinnamon may lower your risk of diabetes, there are many others that say that the results are inconclusive.
Possible health gains of cinnamon
Some positive claims for adding cinnamon to your diet include the following.
- Some research has found that a particular type of cinnamon – cassia cinnamon, may reduce the risk of diabetes in some patients because of its reported ability to lower blood sugar.
- Cinnamon is reported to lower cholesterol
- Cinnamon is said to help treat yeast infections.
- On studies in the lab, cinnamon has been reported to reduce inflammation and have antioxidant benefits. However, it is unclear how well this impacts people.
- Some studies have found that a chemical found in cassia cinnamon – cinnamaldehyde – can help to fight against fungal and bacterial infections.
- Cinnamon is touted to be an appetite suppressant
- Cinnamon has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
- Recent studies at Penn State have found that a diet which is rich in spices, such as cinnamon and turmeric, can help to curb the negative effects of a higher fat diet.
- A study from Wheeling Jesuit University indicates that increased use of cinnamon can help with brain activity and alertness.
Possible health risks
There have been reported some potential Side Effects of taking too much cinnamon. Some side effects include:
- Irritation of the mouth and lips can occur from too heavy use of cinnamon
- Very high doses of cassia cinnamon can result in liver damage and can even be toxic.
- If applied to the skin, cinnamon can cause an allergic reaction.
- Possible drug interactions may occur with cinnamon supplements. If you take them, be sure to check with your doctor to see how they will interact with medicines you are currently taking. Some possible bad interactions include antibiotics, diabetes drugs, blood thinners, and heart medicines.
Types of cinnamon
Cinnamon comes in both stick and ground form. Not all cinnamon is created equal. There are two types of Cinnamon:
- True cinnamon (Ceylon cinnamon) and
- Cassia Cinnamon
Cassia cinnamon contains significant amounts of a compound called coumarin. This type of cinnamon is thought to be harmful in large doses.
So, while it is routinely believed that cinnamon is believed to have at least some health benefits, most researchers believe that true Ceylon cinnamon is better for health benefits than cassia cinnamon.
Unfortunately normal supermarket cinnamon is mainly the cassia cinnamon variety. True Ceylon cinnamon is available in good health food stores and there are many sources for it if you wish to try it in your diet.
Ways to use cinnamon in your diet:
- Sprinkle cinnamon into your coffee grounds before you brew it to add some extra flavor and health benefits to your morning coffee.
- Many soups, curries and stews will benefit from a dash of cinnamon
- Sprinkle cinnamon over your oatmeal
- Sprinkle slices of pineapple with cinnamon and grill them on the BBQ
- Season your air popped popcorn with cinnamon
- Bake sweet potatoes and sprinkle them with cinnamon
Are you looking for more ways to add some cinnamon to your diet for health reasons? Or perhaps it is that you just like the taste of cinnamon and want recipes that feature it. Each of these recipes use cinnamon as a main ingredient.