Proven Health Benefits of Cinnamon
1. High Source of Antioxidants
Cinnamon is packed with a variety of protective antioxidants that reduce free radical damage and slow the aging process; in fact, researchers have identified 41 different protective compounds of cinnamon to date!
According to the ORAC scale, which is used to measure the concentration of antioxidants in different foods, cinnamon ranks #7 of all foods, spices and herbs across the world. And in a study that compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, cinnamon was deemed the winner and proved to be higher in antioxidants than other powerful herbs and spices, including garlic, thyme, rosemary and oregano.
Cinnamon health benefits are attributed to the type of antioxidants called polyphenols, phenolic acid and flavonoids. These are similar antioxidants to those that can be found in other “superfoods,” including berries, red wine and dark chocolate. These compounds work to fight oxidative stress in the body, which can lead to disease formation when uncontrolled, especially as someone ages.
The different antioxidants present in cinnamon help to reduce a multitude of symptoms and diseases because they are free radical scavengers. The health benefits of cinnamon include its ability to reduce many forms of oxidative stress, including the ability to limit nitric oxide build up in the blood and lipid (fat) peroxidation, which can both add to instances of brain disorders, cancer, heart disease and other conditions.
2. Contains Anti-inflammatory Properties
The antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, brain function decline and more. Researchers have identified over seven kinds of flavonoid compounds alone in cinnamon, which are highly effective at fighting dangerous inflammation levels throughout the body.
Because cinnamon lowers swelling and inflammation, it can be beneficial in pain management, with studies showing that cinnamon helps to relive muscle soreness, PMS pains, severity of allergic reactions and other age-related symptoms of pain too.
3. Protects Heart Health
Studies have shown that another health benefit of cinnamon is that it reduces several of the most common risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels and high blood pressure.
The special compounds in cinnamon are able to help reduce levels of total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, while HDL “good” cholesterol remains stable. Cinnamon has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure, which is another threat for causing heart disease or a stroke.
And there are even more heart health benefits of cinnamon. Research shows that cinnamon is a helpful blood coagulant and prevents bleeding by helping the body to form blood clots. Cinnamon also increases blood circulation and advances bodily tissue’s ability to repair itself after it’s been damaged. This includes heart tissue, which is in need of regeneration in order to help fight heart attacks, heart disease and stroke.
4. Helps Fight Diabetes
Cinnamon is known to have an anti-diabetic effect. It helps lower blood sugar levels and also can improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which is the vital hormone needed for keeping blood sugar levels balanced.
Diabetes is formed when insulin resistance occurs and poor glycemic control takes places, or someone develops the inability to manage how much sugar (glucose) enters the blood stream. The same problem with insulin resistence is also associated with other conditions like metabolic syndrome and weight gain, too.
These benefits of cinnamon exist because it plays a part in blocking certain enzymes called alanines, which allows for glucose (sugar) to be absorbed into the blood. Therefore, it has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a high-sugar meal, which is especially important for those with diabetes.
For this reason, many studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes can experience significant positive effects on blood sugar markers by supplementing with cinnamon extract.
5. Helps Defend Against Cognitive Decline & Protects Brain Function
Research also shows that another benefit of cinnamon’s protective antioxidant properties is they can help defend the brain against developing neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
One way cinnamon protects cognitive function and brain health is by activating neuro-protective proteins that protect brain cells from mutation and undergoing damage. This further reduces the negative effects of oxidative stress by stopping cells from morphing and self-destructing.
Because cinnamon contains so many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce the effects of aging on the body and brain, in the future, we may see it being used as a possible natural therapeutic treatment or prevention for age-related neuro-degenerative diseases.
6. May Help Lower Cancer Risk
Because of its antioxidant abilities, cinnamon can help protect against DNA damage, cell mutation and cancerous tumor growth. Studies have revealed the health benefits of cinnamon that come from a compound called cinnamaldehyde include its possible ability to inhibit cancer tumor growth and protect DNA from damage, while also encouraging cancerous cells to self-destruct (called cell apoptosis).
This is especially true in the colon; studies show that cinnamon can improve the health of the colon, thereby reducing the risk of colon cancer. Cinnamon is now being investigated as a natural anti-cancer agent because of its strong antioxidant abilities, so in the future, it may be useful for those who are at higher risks for cancer to supplement with cinnamon extract.
7. Fights Infections & Viruses
There are many benefits of cinnamon when it comes to defending the body from illnesses. Cinnamon is a natural anti-microbial, anti-biotic, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent. The immune-boosting abilities of cinnamon are found in cinnamon’s essential oils.
Cinnamon is used in many cultures to naturally help fight harmful infections and viruses. Cinnamon oils also have protective abilities against various bacteria which can cause negative symptoms in the digestive tract, on the surface of the skin, and can lead to colds or the flu.
8. Protects Dental Health & Freshens Breath Naturally
In studies, the extracts found in cinnamon were shown to be protective against bacteria living in the oral microflora that could cause bad breath, tooth decay, cavities or mouth infections. The essential oil from cinnamon has been shown to be more potent than other tested plant extracts and can be used to naturally combat bacteria in the mouth, acting like a natural anti-bacterial mouthwash.
Similarly to peppermint, one of the health benefits of cinnamon is that it can also used as a natural flavoring agent in chewing gums due to its mouth refreshing abilities. Because it removes oral bacteria, cinnamon has the ability to naturally remove bad breath without adding any chemicals to the body. For this reason cinnamon has also been traditionally used as tooth powder and to treat toothaches, dental problems, oral microbiota, and mouth sores.
Cinnamon essential oil is also used in some beauty products, shampoos, and perfumes for its many health benefits that can help with fighting infection while adding a pleasant smell.
9. Can Help Prevent or Cure Candida
Certain studies have concluded that cinnamon’s powerful anti-fungal properties may be effective in stopping or curing Candida overgrowth in the digestive tract. Cinnamon has been shown to lower amounts of dangerous Candida albicans, which is the yeast that causes Candida overgrowth that can cause multiple digestive and autoimmune symptoms. Additionally, another health benefit of cinnamon is that it helps to control blood sugar levels, and too much sugar within the digestive tract is associated with increased candida risk.
According to researchers, when patients were given cinnamon extract or cinnamon essential oil, they showed improvements in candida yeast levels and a reduction in symptoms. Cinnamon helps to fight candida naturally by boosting immune health and fighting inflammation, auto immune-reactions, and yeast within the gut.
10. Benefits Skin Health
Cinnamon has anti-biotic and anti-microbial effects that protect skin from irritations, rashes, allergic reactions, and infections. Applying cinnamon essential oil directly to the skin can be helpful in reducing inflammation, swelling, pain, and redness. Cinnamon and honey, another antimicrobial ingredient, are frequently used together to boost skin health for this reason and are beneficial for acne, rosacea, and signs of skin allergies.
11. Helps Fight Allergies
Studies have concluded that those with allergies can find relief thanks to the benefits of cinnamon’s compounds. Cinnamon has been shown to be helpful in fighting common allergy symptoms because it reduces inflammation and fights histamine reactions in the bodies of animals, although research is yet to come in human trials. For that reason, many naturopaths believe it can also help to reduce symptoms of asthma attacks.
In essential oil form, cinnamon may have immune-boosting abilities and is beneficial for nutrient absorption during digestion (according to lab and animal studies), which could cut down on auto-immune reactions that can take place after consuming common allergen foods.