Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several tree species and is used in both sweet and savory foods.1 Most cinnamon sold in the United States is in the form of sticks or ground powder and is grown in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.3
Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, a phytochemical that may fight viruses, lower blood sugar and cholesterol as well as protect against neurodegenerative diseases.10 A study comparing the antioxidant level of spices ranked cinnamon as number two for its potency, right behind cloves.8 Besides showing promise for promoting better glycemic control and reducing total cholesterol, it is also being studied as improving hormone imbalances in women of reproductive age.8
Coumarins are naturally occurring plant compounds found in cinnamon that have strong anticoagulant properties; therefore, it should not be used in patients taking a blood thinner. Excessive amounts of this compound may also have a toxic effect on the liver.11 Up to one teaspoon of cinnamon a day is safe for daily consumption for most individuals. Supplement form should not be consumed during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to inconclusive data.8
Culinary uses include using it in baked goods, beef curries, smoothies, and hot and cold teas.
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