Cinnamon sits in almost every spice cabinet and is a star ingredient in many well-loved recipes. But did you know it has been prized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years? It is rich in antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. In recent years, science has confirmed many potential health benefits of cinnamon. Research suggests it may help support blood sugar control, protect against heart disease, and reduce inflammation. Scientists have discovered that cinnamon is high in cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for most of cinnamon’s superpowers.
Here are six health benefits, supported by scientific research, of this delicious spice:
- Helps lower blood sugar levels
Cinnamon is well known for its blood-sugar-lowering properties. Numerous human studies have confirmed the beneficial effects, showing that it can lower fasting blood sugar levels and improve hemoglobin A1c, a marker of long-term blood sugar control. Cinnamon benefits insulin resistance and can lower blood sugar through several other mechanisms. For one, it decreases the amount of sugar that enters the bloodstream after a meal. Likewise, a compound in cinnamon may mimic insulin’s effects to improve sugar uptake into the cells.
- May have beneficial effects on neurodegenerative diseases
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are two of the most common types of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by progressive loss of the structure or function of nerve cells. Research has discovered that certain compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup in the brain of a protein called tau, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Although the effects need to be studied further in humans, a 2014 study in mice with Parkinson’s disease showed that cinnamon helped protect neurons, normalized neurotransmitter levels, and improved motor function.
- Packed with antioxidants
Cinnamon contains powerful antioxidants, including polyphenols, plant-based compounds that boost heart health and immunity. Antioxidants protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that can build up in cells. One study found that cinnamon significantly increased antioxidant levels in the blood and reduced levels of markers used to measure inflammation, such as C-reactive protein. The antioxidant effects of cinnamon are so mighty that it is also a natural food preservative.
- Could protect against heart disease
Cinnamon can reduce the risk of the leading cause of death around the globe—heart disease. According to one review, taking a cinnamon supplement can reduce levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and blood sugar in people with metabolic disease. Another review regarding the risk factors for heart disease found that cinnamon successfully reduced triglyceride and total cholesterol levels. And it has been shown to lower blood pressure when consumed consistently for at least eight weeks.
- Reduces inflammation
In a recent laboratory study of 115 different foods, cinnamon was a top inflammation fighter. This is excellent news for older adults, as inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis become more common as we age. Scientists hope that further research will support using cinnamon as a natural remedy to help with these conditions.
- Lowers cholesterol
In a small study of 60 adults who ate 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon daily for 40 days, their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol decreased. Further research found that similar amounts of cinnamon, consumed daily for up to 18 weeks, could lower LDL and total cholesterol while raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol. However, we’ll have to wait for more extensive studies before cinnamon is recognized as a treatment for high cholesterol.
Jacaranda Trace sources fine, fresh ingredients and uses them every day in their chef-led meals. We know that the best ingredients create culinary masterpieces that are so delectable it’s hard to believe they’re also good for you. To learn more about Jacaranda Trace’s independent living community give us a call at 941-408-2050 or schedule a private tour.