Cinnamon: Spice your way up to a better health!

3 min read

“Cinnamon, reminds me of winter mornings, a perfect of cup freshly brewed coffee with a warm cinnamon bun…pure heaven! Another distinct memory I have of cinnamon is of a little neighborhood girl (imagine snot bubbles oozing out of her nose) who used to chew on a whole cinnamon stick (she loved doing that!)… gross!   Anyways… walk down the memory lane isn’t always as pleasant as we make it sound like. But do y’all know what really is pleasant? Cinnamon rolls…”


Cinnamon Bun

Alright, so I have a sweet tooth, I also happen to have a strong family history of diabetes and I am currently struggling to lose my tummy pooch. And I am not alone in this struggle as over 40 million Indians are affected by diabetes, and over 30 millions struggling with obesity [1],

We often hear about this magical berry that will help you with weight loss and that elixir like herb or concoction that will manage your blood sugar levels, but how often are any of those claims actually backed by science?

Now, for a pleasant change, here is a spice that actually works… yup, it’s Cinnamon!

More on medicinal herbs,

Adaptogens: Medicinal Herbs Revered Around the World

According to research, Cinnamon-

-Reduces Blood Pressure in prediabetic patients.

-Cinnamtannin B1, a flavanoid compound found in cinnamon exhibits insulin like activity and stimulates glucose uptake by cells. Thus helps reduce blood sugar levels. [2]

-Cinnamon significantly reduces serum total cholesterol, Triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels! It is Cinnamate, a phenolic compound that has this cholesterol lowering effect. [5]

-Cinnamon has been shown to delay gastric emptying, hence also decreases post prandial blood glucose. [3]

-Methly Hydroxychalcone Polymer (MHCP) an active ingredient in cinnamon is shown to increase activity of fat burning (hydrolyzing) enzymes. It also increases glycogen synthesis. Both of these actions aid with weight loss.

-MHCP is also shown to stimulate release of Insulin and also improve Insulin receptor sensitivity. [4]

So in a nutshell, Cinnamon can help someone curb their appetite, help control blood sugar levels, help with weight loss and also help reduce bad cholesterol…oh and did I mention that it also reduces blood pressure! Whoof… is there something this super spice can not do?

Yes there is! It can not undo effect of a bad diet, and bad lifestyle choices. It is advised to follow a healthy diet and moderate exercise routine to see the best outcome of cinnamon consumption.


Related Read,

Insulin Resistance: Everything you need to know about it!

There is a catch though!

For cinnamon to do it’s magic, it needs to be consumed in a fairly high dosage (3-6 g per day). Now hold that thought for a moment and we will revisit it in a minute.

There are two different types of Cinnamon, Cassia Cinnamon native to south china, and Ceylon Cinnamon native to Sri Lanka.

Cassia Cinnamon Vs Ceylon Cinnamon

Suggested Read, Are you eating Ceylon – the Right kind of Cinnamon?

Cassia Cinnamon which is easily available in the market is actually really high in a plant chemical named ‘Coumarin’. It is a known blood thinner and people already taking blood thinners are supposed to limit it’s consumption. It is a natural plant chemical. Strawberries, cherries and apricots also has it but not as much as Cassia Cinnamon does. Coumarin is also shown to cause liver toxicity and cancer in animals, which is why it has been banned by US FDA!

Tolerable daily intake (TDI) for coumarin is 0.1 mg per kg of body weight. Which means for a person who weighs 60kg, they should not consume more than 6mg of coumarin in a day. And coincidentally, 1 teaspoon of cassia cinnamon powder contains 5.8-12 mg of coumarin. So if they are taking, say 5-6 gm of Cassia Cinnamon every day to manage blood sugar levels or to lose weight, they might end up with a liver toxicity in the long run. But at the same time, Ceylon Cinnamon hardly contains any coumarin! Which is what makes it a safer choice for those who wants to reap therapeutic benefits of cinnamon.


Take Home Message

If you are someone who wants to give cinnamon a try as a weight loss aid or diabetes management aid, remember to choose Ceylon variety. Also don’t forget to consult with your doctor first as you know coumarin negatively interacts with certain drugs. And last but not the least, no amount of Cinnamon will wash away a bad diet, so eat healthy to stay healthy 🙂


Soniya Nikam, MS, RD.

Soniya Nikam, MS, RD.

She is a Registered Dietitian who does not believe in dieting; She has a Master's Degree in Nutrition but she is not your "I know it all Nutrition Guru!"; She loves food but loves talking about food even more. Her articles are a direct reflection of her personal quest where nutrition science meets real life! Oh, and she is owned by a 3 m.o. naughty kitten :)

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