Cinnamon may also seems to slow digestion, helping to further reduce blood glucose levels. This study of 14 healthy subjects found that six grams of cinnamon, mixed in with a meal of 300 grams of rice pudding, delayed the movement of food out of the stomach and into the small intestine (where glucose is absorbed). It also reduced post-meal blood sugar levels from 30 minutes until at least two hours after eating. A later study—which looked at nine subjects who took three grams of cinnamon—found that these effects did not carry over to high-fat meals (versus the high-carb meal in the aforementioned study).
Animal studies found that cinnamaldehyde (compound that gives cinnamon its distinct flavour and odour), is increases insulin sensitivity, and improves the ability of cells to absorb glucose. Cinnamon bark extract may also lower post-meal blood glucose by inhibiting certain intestinal and pancreatic enzymes, slowing the rate of carbohydrate digestion.
A study of 60 people with Type 2 diabetes found that cinnamon also reduced triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol, all risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
4 Ways to Incorporate Cinnamon Into Your Diet
Most of the existing research has found effects at cinnamon doses between one and six grams.
Here are 4 ways to incorporate cinnamon into your diet:
Add 1-2 teaspoons to a smoothie
Put it in your coffee. Here are tips for incorporating cinnamon into your coffee. And here’s a recipe for a cinnamon coconut latte made with cinnamon and slow-digesting fat (found in the coconut milk).
Make your own Chinese Five Spice which includes cinnamon. It’s great for stir fries and is a great addition to veggie or tofu dishes. If you eat meat, add cinnamon to your rub.
Finally – If you’re not a fan of the taste, taking cinnamon supplements might be a viable option.
Avoid eating cinnamon by itself, as the experience will be, at best, unpleasant, and at worst, life-threatening, as its fine texture can present a choking hazard.
All cinnamon contains a compound called coumarin—much higher in cassia than Ceylon cinnamon. Coumarin can cause liver damage and tumors in animals at high doses. The risk to humans is primarily in people with existing liver damage, and even then when ingesting far higher amounts than you would typically get in your diet.
Coumarin is also a natural blood thinner, so you may want to avoid it if you’re already taking blood thinners, such as warfarin or statins.
It’s best to start small and build up to larger amounts gradually. You may find that too much cinnamon irritates your digestive system, or you could have an allergy that doesn’t present itself in lower quantities. That allergy, though rare, could lead to uncomfortable symptomssuch as swelling, burning, itchiness of the mouth, or mouth sores.
It’s also unknown whether taking extra cinnamon has any side effects during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so it may be best to err on the side of caution.