What are the health benefits of cinnamon?

By Brooke Strickland

Mmm…the smell of cinnamon is like no other.  It’s one of the oldest known spices and adds flavor to countless numbers of recipes and desserts. But did you know that besides its use in cooking, it also has health benefits?  In traditional Chinese medicine, Cassia cinnamon is commonly used to help treat the flu, colds, nausea, flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, and painful menstrual periods.  It’s also believed that it can help increase energy and circulation.  Studies have also suggested that cinnamon can help lower bad cholesterol, can help stabilize blood sugar, and when combined with honey, can help relieve arthritis pain.  It can also be a good natural remedy for eliminating headaches and migraines and has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.   A study published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland even found that cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.[1]  In addition, it can inhibit bacterial growth and food spoilage when added to foods.

Don’t go too crazy with it though, because in large doses, it can be toxic.  So instead, introduce a pinch or stick here and there into your regular diet. 

Need some ideas on how to introduce cinnamon into your diet more?

Eating a cinnamon roll every morning might not be the best idea for healthy living, so instead, try sprinkling some in your tea or coffee in the morning or add a sprinkle to some vanilla yogurt or on top of waffles or oatmeal as part of your breakfast.  Add pinches of cinnamon into some of your favorite savory dinner recipes for an added boost of flavor. Or, add it to some warm milk and unsweetened chocolate for a sweet, light drink. For dessert, sprinkle it on top of some chocolate pudding or vanilla ice cream, topped with fresh berries. 

[1] “10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon.” March 23, 2006.  http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/10-health-benefits-of-cinnamon.html