Cinnamon is an expensive spice used in selected Indian households mostly as a seasoning for pulaos, curries, soups and certain desserts. However, its use as a medicinal by ancient Egyptians shows that it has wider applications for health and well being.
- Cinnamon contain polyphenols which act as antioxidants imparting its anti-inflammatory properties protective against inflammatory diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and arthritis.
- Cinnamon has anti-diabetic effect as it lower fasting plasma glucose levels and prevents oxidative stress related to high blood sugars. Cassia cinnamon contains hydroxychalcone and similar chemicals which can improve body’s ability to respond to hormone insulin. Also, certain proteins that increase uptake of blood sugar by the cells may be activated by Cassia cinnamon
- Cinnamon intake may help to reduce total cholesterol, LDL-C, and triglyceride levels, and increase in HDL-C levels thereby protecting against heart disease
- The antimicrobial effects of cinnamon may also help prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath
Studies have shown beneficial effects of cinnamon over a range of doses (120 mg/d to 6 g/d) and duration ( 4 to 18 weeks ).
We simply recommend 1g/day dose (<¼ teaspoon) as being safe and harmless
There are two varieties of cinnamon-
- Ceylon Cinnamon or Cinnamomum zeylanicum
- Cassia Cinnamon or Cinnamomum cassia
Out of these, ceylon cinnamon has lesser amounts of coumarins which are toxic in very high doses (See image). But, one may not have access to the Ceylon cinnamon in India. So while using the Cassia cinnamon variety, one must be careful about not using very high doses.
If you have cinnamon at home, start treating it as a medicine besides just as seasoning. Especially, in individuals with diabetes or heart disease, additional pinch of cinnamon can help in preventing progression of disease.
Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.