Cinnamon: Good for Your Pastry, Bad for Your Liver
You’ve probably heard about the health benefits of cinnamon. Regular consumption of cinnamon may promote by good health in several ways including lowering blood sugar, improving digestion, and staving off Alzheimer’s. Then there’s the cinnamon challenge, the stunt where people try to eat an entire tablespoon of dry cinnamon and end up spewing cinnamon while coughing and wheezing. The challenge may or may not be dangerous to your health.
Scientists have recently discovered that consuming too much cinnamon (in other ways besides the cinnamon challenge) may cause liver damage, and now pastry is being regulated in Denmark. You read that right. The amount of cinnamon in cinnamon swirl pastry, a staple at Denmark bakeries, has come under government control.
The most commonly used variety of cinnamon is cassia which contains coumarin, a natural substance found in many plants. High levels of coumarin can cause liver damage. A new recommendation for the consumption of coumarin has been made, 1mg of coumarin per kg of body weight per day. To protect public health, the Danish food authority has limited the amount of cinnamon that can be used in pastry.
You’re probably asking, “So what?” So they use less cinnamon? Well, the people of Denmark aren’t very happy that their traditional swirls are going to taste less cinnamon-y and that the government is sticking its hands in their pastries.
More importantly, the information about the possibility of cinnamon being damaging to the liver is something you probably want to know. Because the health benefits of cinnamon are well-known, some people may be adding large amounts of cinnamon to their diets daily. The U.S. National Library of Medicine warns that too much cassia cinnamon taken along with medications that could cause possible liver damage might increase the chance of liver damage.
It’s smart to try to manage health with natural methods, but it’s also smart to understand that natural methods, when overused or used in certain combinations, can be harmful.
Cinnamon has many health benefits, but if you’re using it specifically for its health benefits, make sure you don’t overuse it. How much is too much? The U.S. National Library of Medicine says it depends on your age, health and other conditions and there “isn’t enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for cassia cinnamon.” If you want to take doses of cinnamon daily for health purposes, they recommend you “follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.”