I love cinnamon, it’s one of my favourite spices to use. Whether it’s in brownies, lentil chilli or my world famous kidney bean curry, cinnamon is so versatile and full of warming flavour. But did you know that it is also really good for your health?
Cinnamon, made from the inner bark of cinnamon trees, has been used as an ingredient throughout history, as well as being known for its medicinal properties. It was once so valuable it was only the purview of the richest people to use.
There are two main types of cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is the most common type of cinnamon that you can buy, whilst Ceylon cinnamon is rarer, more expensive, and often known as the ‘true’ cinnamon.
It is believed that the compound cinnamaldehyde - the substance which gives cinnamon its distinctive flavour and smell - is what is responsible for the majority of the health benefits associated with cinnamon. Let’s have a closer look at what they are.
Cinnamon may hold antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties: Cinnamon is packed with antioxidants, which protect your body from the damage caused by free radicals. It is so high in antioxidants, including polyphenols, that it can act as a natural food preservative! Studies have also shown that cinnamon has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is really important in the body. It signals to the body that something’s wrong, such as damaged tissue or infection, and shows the areas to target. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can make the body attack its own tissues. Cinnamon not only helps to raise antioxidant levels in our bodies, but it can also help to reduce certain markers of inflammation and oxidative stress (Zhu et al., 2020) (Schink et al., 2018).
Cinnamon may help to protect against heart disease: A little cinnamon a day may go a long way to keeping your heart healthy, and that might be one of the best reasons to sprinkle some on your porridge in the mornings! Cinnamon has been shown to reduce levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, which are both risk factors in developing heart disease. In people with certain metabolic conditions, it has even been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, and it has been shown that having a consistent intake of cinnamon can also help to lower blood pressure - further reducing strain on the heart (Kutbi et al., 2021).
Cinnamon may help to increase sensitivity to insulin and manage blood sugar levels: Speaking of blood sugar, cinnamon might have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity. Insulin is one of the most important hormones in the human body. It helps to move blood sugar from your bloodstream into your cells, as well as helping to regulate our energy use and metabolism. If your body is resistant to the ways in which insulin works, then you might develop a metabolic condition or diabetes. Studies have shown that cinnamon may be able to reduce this resistance to insulin, when used consistently, as well as improving blood sugar control in the body, and lowering blood sugar levels (Hajimonfarednejad et al., 2018). Cinnamon has been shown to have an effect on how much sugar passes into your bloodstream directly after consuming a meal by interacting with digestive enzymes. This slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in your digestive tract (Hayward et al., 2019).
Cinnamon may be beneficial to those with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease: One of the signs of Alzheimer’s disease is the buildup of a compound called tau inside the brain. It is believed that certain compounds found in cinnamon can prevent this buildup, lowering the chances of developing the disease. Like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease, which is usually symptomised by the structure and function of our nerve cells over time. Cinnamon has been shown to help protect our neurons and improve motor function, which may be beneficial to those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease (Momtaz et al., 2018) (Khasnavis and Pahan, 2014).
Cinnamon has antibacterial and antifungal properties: Whilst more research is needed, cinnamaldehyde is thought to be beneficial against different kinds of infection, including the growth bacterias such as Salmonella. It’s even thought that cinnamon has antimicrobial properties which can prevent tooth decay: that’s why some dental products are cinnamon flavoured! (Yanakiev, 2020)
There you have it. Not only is cinnamon a versatile ingredient, it’s full of benefits for your body too! Vivo Life uses Ceylon Cinnamon in our Vanilla Cinnamon Collagen Builder, in our Banana Cinnamon PERFORM (yum!) and in all flavours of WHOLE, our plant-based nutritional shake, so no matter your health and fitness goals, you can make sure you’re getting all the fabulous benefits of cinnamon.
Zhu, C., Yan, H., Zheng, Y., Santos, H.O., Macit, M.S. and Zhao, K. (2020). Impact of Cinnamon Supplementation on cardiometabolic Biomarkers of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 53, p.102517. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102517.
Schink, A., Naumoska, K., Kitanovski, Z., Kampf, C.J., Fröhlich-Nowoisky, J., Thines, E., Pöschl, U., Schuppan, D. and Lucas, K. (2018). Anti-inflammatory effects of cinnamon extract and identification of active compounds influencing the TLR2 and TLR4 signaling pathways. Food & function, [online] 9(11), pp.5950–5964. doi:10.1039/c8fo01286e.
Kutbi, E.H., Sohouli, M.H., Fatahi, S., Lari, A., Shidfar, F., Aljhdali, M.M., Alhoshan, F.M., Elahi, S.S., Almusa, H.A. and Abu-Zaid, A. (2021). The beneficial effects of cinnamon among patients with metabolic diseases: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized-controlled trials. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, pp.1–19. doi:10.1080/10408398.2021.1896473.
Hajimonfarednejad, M., Nimrouzi, M., Heydari, M., Zarshenas, M.M., Raee, M.J. and Jahromi, B.N. (2018). Insulin resistance improvement by cinnamon powder in polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial. Phytotherapy research : PTR, [online] 32(2), pp.276–283. doi:10.1002/ptr.5970.
Momtaz, S., Hassani, S., Khan, F., Ziaee, M. and Abdollahi, M. (2018). Cinnamon, a promising prospect towards Alzheimer’s disease. Pharmacological Research, 130, pp.241–258. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2017.12.011.
Khasnavis, S. and Pahan, K. (2014). Cinnamon Treatment Upregulates Neuroprotective Proteins Parkin and DJ-1 and Protects Dopaminergic Neurons in a Mouse Model of Parkinson’s Disease. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 9(4), pp.569–581. doi:10.1007/s11481-014-9552-2.