Cinnamon, the popular and tasty spice often found in a variety of treats (mmm, cinnamon rolls) and drinks, is more than just a flavorful addition. Research has shown that it can help control blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol levels—and preliminary research has linked it to lowered blood pressure.
Where Does Cinnamon Come From?
This versatile spice traveled a long way to reach your spice cabinet. Cinnamon comes from an inner layer of bark found in many different varieties of evergreen trees grown in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, China and other countries in Asia. A cinnamon farmer will shave off the outer layer of bark, exposing the “cinnamon” bark—and as it dries, it naturally curls up into the sticks you’ve likely seen on store shelves. Those sticks are then crushed into a powder, packaged and shipped off to you!
Cassia Cinnamon vs. Ceylon Cinnamon
There are actually many different kinds of cinnamon, however, there are two particular varieties that are commonly used—Ceylon and cassia. Ceylon, also referred to as “true cinnamon,” comes from Sri Lanka. Eighty to ninety percent of the world’s cassia cinnamon, which has a stronger flavor, is harvested in Indonesia, but is also found in China, Vietnam and Burma. Calling Ceylon “real” or “true” cinnamon is a bit of a misnomer, as both Ceylon and cassia are “true” cinnamon, just different kinds.
Ceylon is more expensive and milder than cassia—and studies have shown that consuming high amounts of cassia could damage the liver (although, only to those susceptible to liver damage). You likely don’t have much to worry about, as you’d have to be consuming a teaspoon a day to create these unwanted side effects.
Blood Glucose, Cholesterol and Cinnamon
Multiple studies have confirmed that cinnamon can help control your blood sugar. A large analysis published in the Journal of Medicinal Food concluded that cinnamon lowers fasting blood glucose in diabetes patients. These results are significant considering around 30 million Americans have diabetes and more than 85 million have prediabetes.
More good news! Through this research, experts have also found that cinnamon can help to lower lipid levels, including the “bad” kind of cholesterol, LDL.
Lowered Blood Pressure? Looks Promising!
The jury is still out—but several preliminary studies have shown that safe consumption of cinnamon may lower blood pressure. Through an analysis of clinical trials, a 2013 study published in the journal, Nutrition, found a “notable reduction in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP).”
We’ll be sure to update you once more research comes out! In the meanwhile, try adding some cinnamon to your tea or even coffee grounds prior to brewing. And research cinnamon supplements—be sure to check with your physician before adding them to your diet.