So, you think you’re in the know about cinnamon? Nutritionist and The Squeeze Editor Lily Soutter shares her wisdom of this ancient spice.

 

And there may be more to it than meets the eye…

CINNAMON HAS BEEN USED MEDICINALLY FOR CENTURIES. BUT WHAT ARE THE SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN HEALTH BENEFITS OF THIS WONDROUS SPICE?


There is so much amazing research on cinnamon! It has repeatedly been proven to help with blood sugar control as well as dramatically reducing insulin resistance. Great news the for the millions of people suffering from type 2 diabetes, Metabolic syndrome, Polycystic ovarian syndrome and for those trying to lose weight. Other research has shown that cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties, can reduce harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and in animal studies has shown to lead to various improvements for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. 

 

Which of your client's would benefit from incorporating a little more cinnamon in their diets?

Whilst everyone will reap the antioxidant benefits from adding cinnamon to their diet, those with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, high cholesterol and neurodegenerative diseases may see the most impact from consuming this wonder spice.

How much cinnamon would we need to consume to have positive impacts on our health?

Studies have shown that only 1-6g (0.5-2 teaspoons) of cinnamon a day is required to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. Cinnamon can actually prevent the amount of sugar that is released into the bloodstream from our meals, so to take advantage of this positive effect and take alongside food (or in it!).

Why Cinnamon is good for you

Photo: Lyndsey Eden

 

As a Nutritionist how do you like to incorporate cinnamon into your diet?

I love adding cinnamon to my morning smoothie, porridge and energy balls.
However cinnamon can be included in almost all cooking, other popular dishes include - cinnamon spiced nuts, mulled wine, turmeric milk, cinnamon spiced veg, soups, stews, desserts and even yoghurt!

 

Is cinnamon the new turmeric?! Does cinnamon have any benefits over other spices?

Like turmeric, cinnamon has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. Cinnamon’s active component is called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for most of its health benefits.

Cinnamon is also loaded with powerful polyphenol antioxidants, so much so that cinnamon came out as having the highest concentration of antioxidants in comparison to 26 other spices. Cinnamon’s polyphenol antioxidants even outranked garlic and oregano, which have been dubbed top super foods.

 

Does it matter where your cinnamon comes from?

In short, yes. This actually a really important point which many people don’t know about.
There are two main types of cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon, which both belong to the same family of plants, however have slightly different tastes.

Cassia cinnamon is the most is the most frequently found in our supermarkets, and has a stronger smell and flavour in comparison to the Ceylon cinnamon. Both types of cinnamon have proven health benefits, however Cassia cinnamon can have harmful side effects when consumed in large doses.

Coumarin is a compound, rich in Cassia cinnamon, but not Ceylon, and is harmful to the body. In rodents, it has been shown to cause kidney, liver and lung damage. There is a Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) set in place, however, this is easy to go over in just 1-2 teaspoons.

If you regularly consume cinnamon, then it would be recommended that you choose Ceylon cinnamon which can be purchased from health food shops or online.

 

Is stick preferable to powder? How about cinnamon in supplement form? 

Cinnamon can be taken in supplement form for those who struggle to obtain the required dose within the diet, however, it’s vital that the supplements contain Ceylon cinnamon over Cassia.

Cinnamon sticks tend to have a longer shelf life than pre-ground cinnamon. You can create tasty, freshly ground cinnamon by putting the sticks into your coffee grinder.

 

It is possible to overdo the cinnamon? Is there anyone who should avoid this spice?

Cinnamon is a great daily addition to the diet, but it’s also possible to get too much of a good thing. The recommended upper dosage of cinnamon is 6 grams (about 2 teaspoons) daily for 6 weeks. You can then take a weeks rest from cinnamon every 6 weeks.

Caution should also be taken for those who are on medications to thin the blood, for individuals with diabetes, or medications which can harm the liver. Women are also recommended to keep cinnamon to a minimum whilst pregnant. 

Lily Soutter, Nutritionist and Nutritional Therapist

Photo Credit: Daria Yakovleva
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