Cinnamon is a powerful spice that has been widely used in many cultures for thousands of years. Once traded as a currency and deemed more valuable than gold, this ancient spice has a distinct sweet and warm smell, making it a popular ingredient in different cuisines, dishes, baked goods, breakfast cereals and snacks.
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a small evergreen tree. The bark is peeled beforehand and laid in the sun to dry, after which it curls up into rolls, prominently known as cinnamon sticks. Another variation of this household spice is its grounded powder form that is typically found sprinkled over pastries.
High in Antioxidants
Cinnamon is loaded with an array of protective antioxidants, which minimise free radical damage and slow the aging process. To date, researchers have identified more than 40 different protective compounds in this household spice. In another study, cinnamon was crowned the winner, when it was found to contain the highest amount of antioxidants against 26 other herbs and spices, including rosemary, thyme, garlic and oregano.
The health benefits that cinnamon offers are strongly attributed to the few specific types of antioxidants present in cinnamon, mainly flavonoids, phenolic acid and polyphenols. The combination of these compounds effectively combats oxidative stress in your body and possesses the ability to prevent chronic diseases by neutralising harmful free radicals.
In addition, the other different antioxidants in cinnamon also help impede nitric oxide buildup in the blood and prevent fat peroxidation, two factors which may potentially increase the risk of heart disease, brain disorders, cancer and other chronic conditions.
Induce Weight Loss
One of the most effective ways to extract all the goodness of cinnamon is by soaking a stick in water and sipping it every now and then. Health experts claim that cinnamon-infused water not only makes a wonder drink for your blood glucose levels, it is also able to make you feel satisfied and inhibit your cravings and hunger pangs, rendering it a valuable companion in your weight loss journey.
Besides, the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon can offer additional help to those trying to lose their excess pounds, by promoting overall body health so that you are able to process food more efficiently.
Treat Type 2 Diabetes
Perhaps one of the most promising health benefits of cinnamon is its association with type 2 diabetes. While there is undoubtedly no cure for this metabolic disease, cinnamon can be a valuable asset in managing its symptoms in two ways.
Firstly, cinnamon is able to reduce your blood pressure and provide a positive effect on blood markers for those with type 2 diabetes. Secondly, cinnamon also possesses the potential to reduce insulin resistance, which has been shown to lower fasting blood sugar levels by almost 30 percent. This can essentially reduce the occurrence of type 2 diabetes.
The key is in boosting insulin sensitivity in the body, a sensitivity that gradually decreases as we age and consume more sugar. Cinnamon is completely non-toxic and repairs your body receptors to be responsive to insulin once again.
Side Effects of Too Much Cinnamon
While there are promising benefits of consuming cinnamon, too much of it has been linked to other side effects.
May Cause Liver Damage
Cassia cinnamon is an excellent source of coumarin, and contains an estimated five milligrams of coumarin per teaspoon, while its counterpart — the Ceylon cinnamon — only contains traces of it. The recommended daily coumarin limit is set at five milligrams a day for a 60-kilogram individual. This means that a mere one and a half teaspoons of Cassia cinnamon can bust your daily coumarin limit. Unfortunately, excessive coumarin in your system has been found to instigate liver toxicity and damage.
May Increase Risk of Cancer
Several studies have shown that consuming too much coumarin may promote the risk of certain cancers. Scientists also believe that the same coumarin, which is abundantly found in Cassia cinnamon, may cause repeated damage to certain organs. Over time, the prolonged damage may cause the healthy cells to be replaced by cancerous tumour cells.
May Trigger Low Blood Sugar
Cinnamon is renowned for its ability to lower your blood sugar levels by mimicking the effects of insulin, a hormone that helps eradicate sugar from the blood. While consuming moderate amounts of cinnamon may help you lower your blood sugar levels, too much cinnamon may cause it to dip. This reaction is known as hypoglycaemia and it can lead to constant fatigue, dizziness and possible fainting. Those who are under medication for diabetes are most at risk of experiencing low blood sugar, as cinnamon may enhance the potency of these medications, causing your blood sugar level to drop too low.
The Bottom Line
Cinnamon is a lovely spice that has been linked to a list of impressive health benefits. However, eating excessive amounts of it may bring about potentially dangerous side effects. This mostly applies to Cassia cinnamon, due to its rich source of coumarin.
Moderation is always key: Too much of a good thing could sometimes end up being a bad thing.