Cinnamon sticks and cinnamon powder
As we move into the holiday season, there’s one spice you’re likely reaching for more often: cinnamon! If you love cinnamon, there’s a good chance that you use it more than just when baking holiday treats. The spice tastes delicious in chili, on sweet potatoes, in pot roast, in curries and more. It’s also a way to sweeten your coffee or tea without using sugar.
If you eat cinnamon every day, there are ways it will impact your body—just like eating (or drinking) anything else does. Mostly, these impacts are good—although it’s important to consider how you’re consuming cinnamon. (Sprinkling it on top of nutrient-void foods isn’t exactly going to benefit your health.) But it’s also important to know how much cinnamon is safe to consume regularly because yes, it is possible to consume too much.
5 Ways Eating Cinnamon Every Day Can Impact the Body
1. It can lower your cholesterol.
Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author, says that one benefit of consuming cinnamon regularly is that it’s good for your heart. “Daily consumption of cinnamon has been linked to heart health in several ways in the long term. Notably, cinnamon is known to reduce levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, while maintaining levels of HDL cholesterol,” she says. This directly decreases one’s risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S.
2. Eating cinnamon every day can lower blood pressure.
In addition to lowering LDL cholesterol, Manaker says that eating cinnamon every day can lower blood pressure too. Since high blood pressure is linked to cardiovascular disease, this is another way that consuming cinnamon lowers your risk.
3. It could decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Scientific research shows that consuming cinnamon can increase insulin sensitivity. “What that means is that cinnamon has been shown to make you more sensitive to the insulin your body makes so that your body’s cells are more responsive to insulin, which is the hormone that controls your blood sugars,” explains Sharon Palmer, RDN, MSFS, a registered dietitian nutritionist and the co-founder of Food+Planet.
Palmer explains that the reason why this is beneficial is because it can help protect against Type 2 diabetes. “As the body becomes more resistant to the insulin it produces, glucose can’t enter the cells in the body as easily, and this leads to rising blood glucose levels and ultimately Type 2 diabetes,” she says. But she emphasizes that cinnamon isn’t a magic bullet and it’s important to consider one’s diet as a whole.
4. It could lower your risk of dementia.
Eating cinnamon regularly is also good for your brain. “Cinnamon contains compounds that are shown to inhibit the build-up of a protein called tau in the brain, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease,” Manaker says. But she adds that much more data is needed to confirm the relationship before cinnamon can be recommended as a sure way to support brain health.
5. It supports gut health.
Since cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory spice, Manaker says that it can help support a healthy gut, suppressing the growth of bad bacteria and allowing good bacteria to thrive. Additionally, some studies show that cinnamon can help alleviate symptoms of people who experience regular diarrhea due to irritable bowel syndrome.
How Much Cinnamon Is Too Much?
Even though consuming cinnamon every day is linked with quite a few health benefits, you can have too much of a good thing. “As beneficial as cinnamon is, it is important to remember that too much can be harmful. The potentially dangerous compound in cinnamon is called coumarin, which can cause liver damage in high amounts,” Manaker says. She adds that the amount of coumarin in cinnamomum cassia—the type of cinnamon found in most grocery stores—is significantly higher than in Ceylon cinnamon (true cinnamon).
Because of the risk of liver damage, Manaker says that The European Food Safety Authority recommends a daily intake of no more than 0.1 milligrams of coumarin per kilogram of body weight. “This means a person who weighs 70 kilograms (about 154 lbs) should not consume more than 7 milligrams of coumarin, which is found in about one teaspoon of Cassia cinnamon,” she says. “Adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to your oatmeal every day is unlikely to cause any harm, but always consult with your doctor.
As long as you keep your cinnamon consumption under a teaspoon a day (or under half a teaspoon a day if you weigh less than 154 lbs—just to be safe), you will reap its many benefits without experiencing any negative effects. But if you have any concerns about your cinnamon consumption and how it could impact your body, it’s best to ask your doctor about it. They can make sure your cinnamon habit stays, well, sweet!