Spices such as cinnamon have the power to amplify the flavor and aroma of food with just one little pinch. Sourced from the root, bark, and seeds of plants, spices are considered an essential element to many cuisines. Beyond culinary uses, the bioactive compounds of spices have also been used for medicinal purposes. Here, we take a deeper dive into one of our go-to spices to reveal the proven health benefits and why this spice should be a pantry staple.
Cinnamon and Diabetes
Cinnamon is used as a supplement for general health and wellness, and as an addition to help control blood sugar levels for diabetics. Cinnamon has been shown to help stimulate insulin activity, which means the body can process sugar more efficiently and therefore need less supplemental insulin. Although there is insufficient evidence to support the use of cinnamon in the treatment of diabetes, this natural remedy could potentially reduce the number of medications a diabetic needs.
Research also shows that diabetes patients with lipid patterns characteristic of metabolic dyslipidemia (including elevated triglycerides, elevated LDL cholesterol, and low HDL cholesterol) respond well to cinnamon. Considering these lipid patterns increase a diabetic’s risk of cardiovascular disease, supplementing with cinnamon could be an effective remedy.
Cinnamon and Parkinson's Disease
There is also new research supporting the use of cinnamon in slowing the development of Parkinson’s disease. Neurological scientists at Rush University Medical Center have found that using cinnamon can reverse the biomechanical and cellular changes that occur in the brains of mice with Parkinson’s disease. This, according to the researchers, could potentially be one of the safest approaches to halt disease progression in people living with Parkinson’s.
Our Favorite Ways to Use Cinnamon
Cinnamon is incredibly versatile and perhaps one of the easiest spices to incorporate in your diet. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on foods such as oatmeal, cream of wheat, yogurt, toast, or coffee. Cinnamon is a great way to add extra flavor and a sense of sweetness without adding extra sugar. We love the use of cinnamon in these Cinnamon Roll Muffins, which mimic the taste of a cinnamon roll for a fraction of the calories, saturated fat, and sugar. Another Cooking Light favorite is this Cinnamon-Orange Pinwheels recipe, which offers ribbons of cinnamon streusel amongst orange-scented, whole-grain rolls.
Cinnamon is also a delicious addition to savory dishes. Try adding a pinch to grain salads, sauces, and marinades for depth of flavor. Or better yet, try our recipe for Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon, Chicken, and Cashews. This warming spice works exceptionally well in Moroccan-style dishes, such as Chicken with Dates, Olives, and Cinnamon, adding rich flavor and a jolt of antioxidants.
Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been valued for its culinary, medicinal, and natural preservative powers since ancient times. This warming spice contains active components that may have therapeutic benefits in patients with diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Incorporating this functional food into your diet is as easy as adding a pinch to your favorite sweet treats, beverages, smoothies, or breakfast staples.
 Vafa, M., Mohammadi, F., Shidfar, F., Sormaghi, M.S., Heidari, I., Golestan, B., and Amiri, F. (2012, August). Effects of cinnamon consumption on glycemic status, lipid profile and body composition in type 2 diabetic patients. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 3(8): 531-536. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3429799/
 Cinnamon may help halt parkinson's disease progression. (2014, July 8). Retrieved from https://www.rush.edu/news/press-releases/cinnamon-may-help-halt-parkinsons-disease-progression.