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Is Cinnamon Good for You? 6 Science-Backed Health Benefits

There's a lot more to cinnamon than just flavour.

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Cinnamon sticks in a bazaarBilal Kocabas/Shutterstock

What is cinnamon good for?

Cinnamon works well in all different kinds of recipes and dishes. There are more reasons, besides flavour, to use it in your cooking. The health benefits of cinnamon are mostly thanks to the antioxidants, according to Hillary Cecere, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian for Eat Clean Bro. These powerful antioxidants and polyphenols support overall health by protecting the body from oxidative damage via free radicals which could be harmful, says Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN, and creator of the Wholitarian Lifestyle.

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cinnamon oatmeal bowlOksana Mizina/Shutterstock

Is cinnamon good for you?

Cecere notes that not all cinnamon has the same nutritional value. There are two main types: Ceylon and Cassia cinnamon. Cassia is more affordable and popular than Ceylon, but Ceylon is safer in larger quantities. Although research shows cinnamon positively influences many health conditions, more research is necessary. And Alyssa Pike, RD, the manager of nutrition communications for the International Food Information Council, adds that cinnamon should not substitute other healthy foods, habits, or medication (when appropriate). But you can happily sprinkle some for these potential health benefits.

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Food explosion with cinnamon sticks and powder, on black background.Melica/Shutterstock

Cinnamon might reduce inflammation

Some research shows the antioxidants in cinnamon may also be anti-inflammatory. So cinnamon is also beneficial for pain, muscle soreness, and swelling, Cecere says.

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ground cinnamonYarvan/Shutterstock

Cinnamon could reduce the risk of heart disease

Malkani says that cinnamon may influence factors related to heart disease, but there isn’t enough clinical evidence to know for sure. One review study found that 120 mg of cinnamon per day could improve LDL cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and total cholesterol, Cecere says. Another study found that people with diets high in spices like cinnamon and turmeric who ate fatty meals saw a decrease in triglycerides.

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Close up cinnamon sticks and cinnamon powder in wooden spoon on wooden table background, healthy spice conceptHalil ibrahim mescioglu/Shutterstock

Cinnamon may improve insulin sensitivity

Insulin resistance, or when the body responds poorly to insulin, is linked to other health issues like type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. “Studies have shown improvements in glycemic control with cinnamon in people with diabetes,” Cecere says. “Cinnamon not only reduces blood sugar but also improves sensitivity to insulin.” Eating cinnamon with a high-carb meal could help prevent blood sugar spikes, according to Cecere. But Malkani and Kris Sollid, RD, the senior director of communications for the International Food Information Council, note that cinnamon should not be the primary strategy or long-term treatment for controlling blood sugar levels, as there needs to be more research.

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Cinnamon essential oil for spa, aromatherapy, wellness, medical background.Julia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock

Cinnamon extracts could protect against cancer

The high amount of antioxidants in cinnamon could protect against DNA damage and cell mutations associated with cancer, Cecere says. However, Pike notes that the current research is only on animals and test-tube studies. “Further research in humans is needed to provide clinical evidence for the traditional uses of cinnamon against cancer,” she says.

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Ground Cinnamon Spilled from a TeaspoonMichelle Lee Photography/Shutterstock

Cinnamon is good for fighting certain infections

Cinnamon oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help fight infections, according to Cecere. Cinnamaldehyde is one of the main active components of the spice that protects against infection, Pike says. Still, there needs to be more research on the types of infections cinnamon could reduce. Research shows it prevents the growth of listeria, salmonella, and could be an effective treatment against yeast infections.

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Masala tea chai latte traditional warm Indian sweet milk spiced drink, ginger, cinammon sticks, fresh spices blend organic infusion healthy wellness beverage in rustic clay cup on dark tableGreenArt/Shutterstock

Cinnamon is good for your oral health

Thanks to the antimicrobial effects of cinnamon, the spice could be good for your oral health. Research shows it’s especially great at preventing tooth decay and bad breath.

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Ground cinnamon powder and cinnamon sticks in a black bowl on dark rustic backgroundkuvona/Shutterstock

Bottom line: cinnamon is a great addition to your diet

Cecere, Pike, Sollid, and Malkani all agree that there needs to be more human research on the extent of the health benefits of cinnamon. Some early research suggests cinnamon might also have positive effects on multiple sclerosis, HIV, and Alzheimer’s disease, among others. But what is cinnamon good for? It’s good for sprinkling on food as a safe way to boost the antioxidants in your diet. It shouldn’t be the main treatment for health issues thanks to a lack of human research, but eating it certainly won’t hurt. Plus, the delicious flavour pairs well with many types of produce and could make you eat more fruits and vegetables.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest