Cinnamon, also known as Cassia, comes from a plant native to China and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of conditions. The sweet, aromatic plant is traditionally used in cooking, and its stick-straight shape makes it a natural choice for stirring into beverages, such as tea and coffee. Despite its common use in food and drink, there are very few scientific studies investigating the effects of cinnamon, at least 30 years after its discovery. Now, new information suggests that the commonly used spice may have more benefits than we thought it had.

Antioxidant Properties

A study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examines the antioxidant properties of various types of cinnamon. The team at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston randomly assigned 78 overweight or obese adults to either a group receiving 150 milligrams of cinnamon daily or a placebo group taking a tablet daily containing no cinnamon. After four months, those regularly ingesting cinnamon showed a significant decrease in their body mass index, as well as improvements in their fasting blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels. What’s more, the spice seemed to have an effect even when used in combination with other dietary interventions, such as the Mediterranean diet. The news isn’t all good, however, as the study also found that those receiving cinnamon had higher blood pressure than before they started the trial. This could possibly be because of the spice’s diuretic effects, which cause the body to lose water. While cinnamon helps to improve health in several ways, its safety for long-term use is still unknown and remains a point for research. If you’re interested in giving cinnamon a try, speak with your doctor first about how much and what type of the spice to take.

Cancer-Fighting Properties

Researchers led by Dr. Dong Hwa Park at the Korea University of Science and Technology in South Korea were interested in exploring the anticancer effects of cinnamon in early 2015. They performed a series of laboratory experiments on human colon cancer cell lines (HCT116 and HT29) and found that the cinnamon significantly decreased the number of malignant cells in both lines. What’s more, when used at nontoxic doses in combination with other cancer therapies, such as irinotecan (a chemotherapy drug) and vitamin C, the potential to fight cancer is even greater. Their study, which was published in the January issue of the *Journal of Medicinal Food*, suggests that cinnamon has the ability to sensitize cancer cells toward chemotherapy drugs and natural vitamin C.

One of the major differences between the two parts of the study is that the second part identified several possible mechanisms involved in the anticancer effect of cinnamon. These included induction of apoptosis, disruption of the cell cycle, and activation of the oxidative stress response. Although more research is needed, especially in humans, these findings suggest that cinnamon may be useful in preventing and treating several types of cancer.

Type 2 Diabetes

According to data from the *Diabetes Atlas*, globally there are currently 387 million adults living with type 2 diabetes. This is expected to rise to 592 million by 2035. Aside from the well-established risk of heart disease and blindness that comes with diabetes, there is now compelling evidence that type 2 diabetes also increases the risk for certain types of cancer. In the United States specifically, the *Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development* found that adults with diabetes have a 60% higher risk of colorectal cancer than those without the disease. The connection between these two devastating diseases has spurred numerous studies investigating the potential role of cinnamon in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. In mice, for example, a team at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio tested the effects of dietary cinnamon on the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. After 12 weeks on the test diet, the mice that received cinnamon had experienced significant improvements in glucose homeostasis, insulin sensitivity, and markers of oxidative stress in their bodies. Based on these findings, the researchers suggest that the commonly used spice may play a role in delaying or preventing type 2 diabetes. Not only does cinnamon have the potential to improve health and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, but it may also have the ability to reverse pre-diabetes. More studies in humans are needed to confirm these effects and establish cinnamon’s safety for long-term use.

There are many reasons why people might want to try cinnamon, but the data available so far indicate that it has the potential to decrease body mass index, relieve the symptoms of diabetes, and fight cancer. It’s even possible that some people might experience a performance boost from the spice, especially if they’re more physically active than usual while on it. Since cinnamon is known for its positive effect on quality of life, it’s only natural that people are looking for ways to incorporate the spice into their diets. More and more frequently, people are trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into their daily diets in order to make healthier choices. One of the best ways to do this is through dessert recipes, such as this chocolate-covered strawberry pizza. It tastes just like real strawberry pizza, and it’s a whole foods option that’s good for you!

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