Cinnamon powder is one of the most popular and versatile spices used around the world. Derived from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree, this aromatic spice has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties and to add flavor to sweet and savory dishes.
Cinnamon powder contains powerful antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory compounds that can provide many health benefits. From supporting blood sugar control to reducing heart disease risk factors, cinnamon powder can be a simple yet powerful addition to your diet and lifestyle.
Read on to discover the evidence-based ways that cinnamon powder can improve your health and well-being.
An Overview of Cinnamon Powder
Cinnamon comes from the bark of trees from the Cinnamomum genus and is harvested by scraping off the inner bark and drying it into sticks or ground powder.
There are two main types of cinnamon powder:
- Ceylon cinnamon: Also known as "true cinnamon", it originates from Sri Lanka. It has a mild, citrusy flavor.
- Cassia cinnamon: The more common variety that originates from China. It has a stronger, spicier flavor.
Ceylon cinnamon contains very little coumarin, a naturally occurring compound that can be toxic in large doses. Cassia has higher levels so Ceylon variety is recommended for regular consumption.
Cinnamon powder is made by simply grinding dried cinnamon sticks into a fine powder. It has an intensely aromatic, sweet, and warming taste, making it a popular ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes.
Just 1 teaspoon (2 grams) contains antioxidants, fiber, manganese, and small amounts of calcium, iron, and vitamins. It provides only 6 calories per serving, making it a nutritious addition to your diet.
Now let's discuss the exciting health benefits of cinnamon powder in more detail.
1. May Help Control Blood Sugar and Prevent Diabetes
Several studies have found cinnamon powder to be effective at lowering blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity. This is especially beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes or at high risk of developing it.
The compounds in cinnamon appear to mimic insulin, increase insulin sensitivity, and help transport blood sugar into cells more efficiently.
In one study, people with type 2 diabetes who took 1 gram per day of cinnamon powder saw significant reductions in fasting blood sugar levels compared to a placebo group. Improvements in cholesterol levels were also observed.
Cinnamon also shows promise for lowering blood sugar spikes after meals. It does this by slowing the breakdown of carbs in your digestive tract and blocking certain enzymes.
While more research is needed, adding 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder to your diet, especially if you have diabetes or prediabetes, may provide blood sugar-lowering benefits. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor and monitor levels closely.
2. Contains Powerful Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that protect your body from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Oxidative stress contributes to aging and many chronic diseases.
Cinnamon powder is very high in antioxidants, including polyphenols, phenolic acid, and flavonoids. In fact, it ranks #7 highest among spices, herbs and seasonings in its ORAC value, a measure of antioxidant power.
These protective compounds can reduce inflammation, protect your cells from damage, and slow down the aging process. This makes cinnamon powder an excellent addition to an antioxidant-rich diet.
Sprinkling just a small amount on your foods and beverages provides a concentrated dose of free radical-scavenging antioxidants.
3. May Boost Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Lifestyle factors like diet play a major role in heart disease risk. The compounds in cinnamon powder show promise for boosting cardiovascular health in various ways.
Studies show that cinnamon's anti-inflammatory abilities may reduce high blood pressure. Cinnamaldehyde helps relax blood vessels to improve circulation. Taking cinnamon long-term has been found to significantly reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Cinnamon powder has also been found to lower LDL "bad" cholesterol levels while raising protective HDL cholesterol. One study showed improved cholesterol levels in 60 patients who consumed just 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon daily for 40 days.
Research also indicates cinnamon powder can reduce blood triglycerides. High triglycerides are linked to atherosclerosis and heart attacks. The antioxidant content helps prevent fatty plaque buildup in arteries as well.
Though more research is needed, adding cinnamon powder to your diet may protect heart health on multiple fronts. Aim for 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per day.
4. May Reduce Inflammation
Chronic inflammation contributes to many age-related diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and neurodegeneration. The powerful antioxidants in cinnamon powder exhibit potent anti-inflammatory activities.
Studies show that cinnamaldehyde, the compound responsible for cinnamon's flavor and aroma, inhibits the release of inflammatory proteins. This helps reduce swelling, pain, and redness.
Cinnamon powder shows promise for relieving arthritis symptoms, muscle soreness, PMS cramps, and other inflammatory conditions. Its antioxidant content provides additional anti-inflammatory benefits as well.
Add a daily sprinkle of cinnamon powder to your meals, smoothies, or tea. Pairing it with anti-inflammatory foods like fatty fish, greens, berries, and turmeric can further reduce inflammation.
5. May Protect Against Neurodegenerative Diseases
Research indicates that cinnamon may boost brain function and protect against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
In Alzheimer's, the accumulation of a protein called tau in the brain contributes to impaired memory and cognitive decline. Studies show that compounds in cinnamon inhibit tau buildup and aggregation in the brain.
Cinnamon also improved motor function and reduced neuron damage in Parkinson's disease models. Additional studies suggest it may boost cognition, memory, and information processing speed as well.
While human data is limited, cinnamon's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects likely contribute to its potential neuroprotective abilities. Adding it to your diet could support long-term brain health.
6. Contains Antimicrobial Properties
Cinnamon powder exhibits antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activities against many strains of dangerous pathogens. This includes E.coli, listeria, salmonella, and the fungi that cause yeast infections and athlete's foot.
Its main active compound, cinnamaldehyde, effectively inhibits bacterial growth and kills off infections. This makes cinnamon a potential natural food preservative and a useful remedy for treating or preventing common illnesses.
Moreover, cinnamon powder shows promise for fighting oral bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. More research is underway for its antimicrobial effects against viruses like flu, HIV, and herpes.
7. May Relieve Arthritis Symptoms
Arthritis involves inflammation and damage to joints that worsens over time. Cinnamon's anti-inflammatory abilities may help reduce arthritis pain and inflammation.
A study in women with rheumatoid arthritis, the most common type, found that taking just over 1/2 teaspoon (500mg) of cinnamon powder per day significantly reduced inflammation markers. Improvements in disease activity were also observed.
Cinnamon powder may also alleviate pain and swelling related to osteoarthritis, the "wear and tear" type of arthritis. Its antioxidants likely help protect cartilage and prevent deterioration.
Try adding cinnamon powder to your diet, or make a soothing cinnamon tea to enjoy its inflammation-reducing benefits. Be sure to also eat an anti-inflammatory diet rich in vegetables, fish, and nuts.
8. May Have Cancer-Fighting Abilities
Early research suggests cinnamon powder contains compounds that may help inhibit the growth and spread of certain cancers.
In test-tube studies, cinnamaldehyde limited the proliferation of cancer cells and blocked the formation of blood vessels within tumors. The compound also induced cancer cell death and worked against colon cancer.
Other lab studies show cinnamon extracts can reduce breast and ovarian cancer cell growth. The antioxidant content likely contributes to lower cancer risk as well.
More quality human studies are needed, but adding antioxidant-packed cinnamon powder to your diet may offer protection against cancer development.
9. Could Support Oral Health
Cinnamon powder has traditionally been used as a remedy for toothaches, mouth sores, and other oral health problems. The cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon contains potent antibacterial and antifungal activities that help treat and prevent dental issues.
Research shows cinnamon oil is effective against bacteria that cause cavities, tooth decay, and bad breath. It may also reduce oral yeast infections like thrush.
Try making a mouthwash with a few drops of cinnamon essential oil, or simply sprinkle cinnamon powder onto your toothbrush when brushing. Its antimicrobial effects can boost oral hygiene and freshen your breath.
10. May Aid Weight Loss
Animal and test-tube studies show that cinnamon powder may promote weight loss by reducing fat cell accumulation and enhancing metabolism.
Specifically, cinnamon contains hydroxychalcone which is thought to mimic insulin, increase sensitivity to blood glucose, and inhibit the accumulation of fat.
Some human research indicates that cinnamon supplementation may mildly boost metabolism and help reduce body fat. However, study results are mixed overall and more evidence is still needed.
Nonetheless, adding calorie-free cinnamon powder to your diet can provide flavor without added sugar or calories. This makes it a smart addition to a weight loss regimen when used alongside a calorie-controlled diet and exercise.
How to Add Cinnamon Powder to Your Diet
Here are some simple ways to incorporate cinnamon powder into your meals and snacks:
- Sprinkle on oatmeal, yogurt, cottage cheese, or fruit
- Add to smoothies, protein shakes, coffee, and tea
- Mix into baked goods like muffins, breads, and healthy desserts
- Combine with other spices to season lean proteins, grains, and vegetables
- Make overnight oats with cinnamon, chia seeds, almond milk and fruit
- Add to nut butter and spread on toast or apples
Aim for about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (1-2 grams) of cinnamon powder per day. It's best to get Ceylon cinnamon if possible since it contains less coumarin than Cassia.
Be sure to buy high-quality powder from reputable brands to get the most benefits. Store in an airtight container away from heat, air, and sunlight.
Potential Side Effects and Precautions
Consuming moderate food amounts of cinnamon powder is generally safe. However, taking too much may cause side effects or interact with medications.
Cassia cinnamon is high in coumarin, which can be toxic to the liver and kidneys in very high doses. Start with small amounts like 1/4 tsp per day and monitor your body's response.
Cinnamon powder may irritate the mouth or lips. Allergic reactions are rare but stop using it if any occur. It can also briefly lower blood sugar so diabetics should monitor levels closely.
Pregnant women should not exceed food-based amounts since safety is uncertain during pregnancy. Those taking medications should ask their doctor before using medicinal doses of cinnamon powder as well.
Does cinnamon powder lower blood sugar?
Yes, research shows that compounds in cinnamon powder can mimic insulin, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce blood sugar levels. Taking 1-2 grams per day has been found effective for lowering fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c in those with diabetes.
Is cinnamon powder good for weight loss?
Some studies indicate cinnamon powder may mildly increase metabolism and reduce fat accumulation. While results are mixed, its ability to add flavor without sugar or calories makes cinnamon powder a smart addition to a weight loss diet.
What's better cinnamon powder or cinnamon supplements?
Experts recommend using cinnamon powder as opposed to supplements. Powder contains beneficial compounds from the whole bark, has less risk of toxicity, and allows you to monitor and control your dosage more easily.
How much cinnamon powder should you take daily?
1/2 to 1 teaspoon (1-2 grams) of cinnamon powder per day is a safe and effective amount for most healthy adults. Start with small amounts and monitor for side effects. Be sure to get Ceylon cinnamon rather than Cassia whenever possible.
Should you take cinnamon powder every day?
Yes, daily consumption of cinnamon powder can provide ongoing health benefits thanks to its high antioxidant content and active compounds. Taking 1/2 to 1 tsp per day may help support blood sugar control, heart health, brain function, and immunity.
Cinnamon powder is an antioxidant-rich spice that provides manganese, fiber, calcium, and other nutrients.
It contains cinnamaldehyde and other compounds that exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, and immune-boosting properties.
Adding just 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder to your diet daily may help control blood sugar, reduce inflammation, enhance brain function, and lower heart disease risk, among other benefits.
Ceylon cinnamon powder has less coumarin than Cassia and is recommended for regular use. Overall, cinnamon powder is a simple way to boost your health and flavor foods without added sugar or calories.
Pair it with a healthy diet and lifestyle to experience its many evidenced-based wellness benefits.