Cinnamon has long been used not only as a delicious spice but also as a home remedy for medical purposes. People have been using it thousands of years when the tree’s barks were used to treat any form of illnesses. Some of its health benefits include the treatment of gastrointestinal complaints, heartburn, indigestion, nausea and digestion issues.
Cinnamon has proven to be a favorite household spice not to mention its distinctly sweet, warming, taste, and ease of use in recipes. A study proved that cinnamon ranks number one out of the 26 most popular herbs and spices in the world in terms of its protective antioxidant levels.
The health benefits of cinnamon can be obtained in form of its pure bark, essential oils, ground spice form or as an extract. Additionally, it’s rich in fiber, manganese, zinc, copper, potassium, vitamins and minerals. Below are seven health benefits of cinnamon that are supported by scientific research.
1. Lowers Blood Sugar
Cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels and improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin, responsible for sugar transportation from the bloodstream to the tissues, thus keeping your blood sugar level balanced. Researchers have recognized cinnamon as an anti-diabetic remedy which is why they consider it as one of the best food for diabetic people.
In addition to that, it can interfere with numerous digestive enzymes, which slows down the breakdown of carbohydrates in your digestive tract, hence decreasing the amount of glucose entering your bloodstream. For effectiveness, take a half to two teaspoons of cinnamon per day.
2. Loaded with Antioxidants
Cinnamon is a powerhouse of antioxidant properties which helps protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. The antioxidants in cinnamon include polyphenols, phenolic acid, and flavonoids which also aid in the prevention of chronic diseases. Additionally, it helps limit nitric oxide build up in the blood and prevent fat peroxidation.
3. Helps Clear Acne
According to a 2015 review of studies, bioactive phytochemicals in cinnamon helps clear acne breakouts. It also protects the skin from irritation, rashes, allergic reactions and infection. When we apply cinnamon directly to the skin, it can help reduce inflammation, swelling, pain, and redness. You can create a simple homemade face mask by combining two teaspoons of raw or organic honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Apply on your face and leave it for ten minutes, then rinse gently with a washcloth and warm water.
4. Boosts Memory
Cinnamon helps boost brain function and defend it against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. This is due to its antioxidants properties and two compounds in cinnamon which inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain. In research by Wheeling Jesuit University, it showed that chewing cinnamon gum during a test can improve participant’s scores on tasks related to virtual recognition memory, working memory, attentional processes, and visual-motor response speed.
5. Protects Against Cancer
In a limited test tube and animal studies, cinnamon has shown to reduce the growth of cancer cells by forming blood vessels in tumors which are toxic to cancer cells causing cell death. This experiment was supported by test tube experiments which showed that cinnamon activates protective antioxidants responses in human colon cells. The studies are still on to confirm truly that cinnamon can prevent and treat cancer. Effects on human beings need to be confirmed in the controlled studies.
6. Fights Bacterial and Fungal Infections
Cinnamon has potential benefits in defending the body from illness. It has antibiotic, antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral properties and its oil has a powerful immune boosting compound. Furthermore, the oil treats respiratory tract infections caused by fungi. Cinnamon also inhibits the growth of certain bacteria and the antimicrobial effect helps prevent tooth decay while reducing bad breath. Therefore, many cultural communities use it to fight harmful infections and viruses.
7. Natural Preservative
Many people don’t know that cinnamon can be used to preserve food. Due to the presence of antibacterial abilities, it can be used as a preservative in many foods without the need for chemicals or artificial ingredients. A study reported that coating pectin from fruit with cinnamon leaf extract yielded high antioxidants and antibacterial properties and stayed fresh for long. You can use cinnamon to stop discoloration of fruits and vegetables.
The Bottom Line
Adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to your morning oatmeal, yogurt or over butternut squash can be of benefit and a great way to replace added sugars for flavor. However, people with liver damage should be careful and avoid consuming cinnamon in excess. If possible, sprinkle but don’t scoop it.