Cinnamon’s Secret Health Benefit

With holiday favorites like pumpkin bread and spiced cider on the menu, recent research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides welcome news: Cinnamon may help you better regulate your blood-glucose levels. In a study of 14 healthy people, scientists at Malmö University Hospital in Sweden gave half the subjects rice pudding mixed with about 3 teaspoons of cinnamon; the other half got an unspiced version of the dessert. Then, they switched: Each group tried the opposite pudding. Both times, up to two hours after eating, the people who’d enjoyed the cinnamon-spiced pudding measured significantly lower blood-glucose levels than those who’d eaten the unspiced one—an indication that their blood sugar was moving more efficiently into cells, where it’s used.

Eating the spiced pudding also appeared to slow the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine (a part of digestion called “gastric emptying”). Though researchers don’t know exactly how cinnamon slows digestion, the fact that it does may, in part, explain the lower blood sugar. “When food enters the intestine more slowly, carbohydrates are broken down slower, which leads to a lower [post-meal] blood-glucose concentration,” says the study’s investigator, Joanna Hlebowicz, M.D.

Other studies suggest that the spice also may improve blood-glucose levels by increasing a person’s insulin sensitivity, the ability of cells to respond to insulin’s signal to move glucose out of the blood. One 2003 trial of 60 people with type 2 diabetes reported that consuming as little as 1 gram (about 1/2 teaspoon) of cinnamon daily for six weeks reduced blood-glucose levels significantly. It also improved the subjects’ blood cholesterol and triglycerides—perhaps because insulin plays a key role in regulating fats in the body.

But other work disputes these findings. A 2006 study showed that insulin sensitivity in diabetic women taking cinnamon supplements did not improve. Why the discrepancy? It could be because the study examined only a specific population: Postmenopausal women, many of whom were taking a variety of glucose-lowering medications (which wasn’t the case in the other studies), say the authors.

Bottom line: Sprinkling a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon on your oatmeal in the morning can’t hurt, it’s tasty and it just may, over time, help ward off diabetes. But don’t go overboard. Animal studies suggest that a compound in cinnamon called coumarin may be toxic in high doses (although humans may not be as susceptible). Cinnamon oils are particularly concentrated, so steer clear. And if you have diabetes, don’t try cinnamon supplements without talking with your doctor: Combining them with a prescription medication may be dangerous.

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By Rachael Moeller Gorman, Eating Well magazine


Alexandra B.
Alexandra B5 years ago

Thanks for sharing!
Cinnamon is the absolute favorite winter spice in our home. We always put it into the apple cake. Apples and cinnamon is a great combination :)

Frans Badenhorst
Frans B5 years ago

we just LOVE cinnamon.....interesting post Mel....

Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago


Perla Serrano Matesanz
Laszlo Kovacs5 years ago

Good to know, I eat it with oatmeal for dinner. :) I am just wondering if I can add it to Kollath Breakfast as one of you say it kills bacteria... fermented oats have a kind of bacteria as well. If anybody knows it, I would be grateful for the answer.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Thank you :)

Michelle Rojas
J Thomas8 years ago

Love cinnamon! I love putting it in my morning oatmeal.

Darlene Hunter
Darlene Hunter9 years ago

What would be the normal daily amount of cinnamon needed to lower blood sugar and receive the other mentioned benefits? Would this be taken all at once or spread out over the course of each day? Did they mention this?

Carol Cantor
Carol Cantor9 years ago

I am a type II diabetic and I have been taking cinnamon capsules daily for over a year. The bottle states that it is "cinnamomum cassia (bark) ". Always happy to hear confirmation that I am doing the right thing.

Mariammarie M.
Mariammarie M.9 years ago

I really appreciate the health benifits of using cinnamon.. I want to use cinnamon but the problem is, how would I know the difference between cinnamon and cassia? i think it is similar in form. Please help.

Stephanie E.
Stephanie E9 years ago

I'm glad to see this summary of studies on the positive health effects of cinnamon. To serve your readers scientific information most responsibly, please cite the original research reports and, if possible, provide links to them.
I have a couple of questions: What species of *Cinnamonum* was/were actually used in these health studies? I believe that the "cinnamon" we buy in the store is not likely to be true cinnamon, it is often cassia. Wikipedia has a lovely piece on cinnamon that clarifies this.
The other thing I'd want to see is the actual results. It seems unusual for a study involving only 14 subjects to get this kind of attention. I assume, then, that the effects were very strong and significant.