How much cinnamon can you safely eat?
There are two common types of cinnamon in stores. The scientific name is usually listed on the nutrition label of the package.
Cassia cinnamon is the most common type of cinnamon sold in stores. It comes from China and has slightly different properties from Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is from Sri Lanka and is also known as “true cinnamon.” It is the healthiest type of cinnamon and more expensive. The main difference between these two types of cinnamon is the presence of coumarin, used for flavor. Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin (about 7–18 milligrams per teaspoon) and Ceylon cinnamon does not. Research has shown that some people are sensitive to high doses of coumarin, suggesting it could cause liver damage.
If you’re drinking tea with cinnamon or taking cinnamon capsules, make sure you know which kind of cinnamon you have. Coumarin may be dangerous to some when taken in high doses. To avoid an excessive dose of coumarin, adults shouldn’t consume more than one teaspoon of Cassia cinnamon per day, as it may cause or exacerbate already existing liver problems.
Health benefits of cinnamon
When consumed in smaller amounts, cinnamon can provide several health benefits.
- Cinnamon can reduce inflammation, which has the added benefit of relieving soreness and pain.
- Cinnamon has more antioxidant activity than both oregano and garlic. Antioxidants help protect your body by lowering the impact of oxidative damage from free radicals in your cells.
- Cinnamon has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in muscle and fat tissues, increase the uptake of glucose, and improve glycogen synthesis in the liver, making it easier for the body to regulate blood sugar in people with type-2 diabetes.
- There are some studies that indicate cinnamon might help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
- Some compounds of cinnamon might slow down the growth of cancerous cells.
There are four easy ways to ingest cinnamon.
- Sprinkle it on food. The simplest way to consume cinnamon is to sprinkle a little of it on your food, such as on toast.
- Make a tea. The chemicals in cinnamon are water soluble and make a great tea.
- Take capsules. You can take cinnamon supplement capsules, but check the dosage amount on the package.
- Swallow it with honey. Honey with cinnamon is a common remedy for sore throats and coughs. It can help alleviate pain and soreness caused by bronchitis.
Possible health complications of high doses of cinnamon
As with all supplements, it’s important to control the dose and not take too much. The coumarin in Cassia cinnamon may cause side effects.
1. Liver damage
Too much coumarin may cause liver damage, especially in individuals with pre-existing liver disease.
2. Low blood sugar
One of the benefits of cinnamon is that it can help to regulate blood sugar. One of the side effects of too much cinnamon, however, is that it can drop your blood sugar too low, which can cause:
Be sure to contact your doctor if you are interested in cinnamon supplements, especially if you are diabetic and taking blood sugar medication. Your specific medication may be adversely affected by cinnamon.
Some people are born with or develop an allergy to cinnamon. Some symptoms of a cinnamon allergy include skin irritation and an upset stomach every time you ingest it.
4. Interactions with other medications
Some medications can be adversely affected by taking too much cinnamon. Additionally, some conditions can be harder to manage or even get worse with too much cinnamon.
- Cinnamon can lower blood sugar and increase the effects of medication for diabetes, lowering blood sugar too much.
- The coumarin in some cinnamon can interact negatively with medication that also affects the liver, like acetaminophen or statins, increasing the risk of liver damage.
Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are diabetic and considering taking cinnamon supplements. If you are taking any medications that affect your liver, avoid cinnamon supplements to avoid negative interactions.
Cinnamon is fragrant, flavorful, and can provide health benefits. But not every jar of cinnamon is the same. If you want to use cinnamon as a supplement for its health benefits, be very careful when you read the labels and talk to your doctor.
High doses of the flavoring agent coumarin may lead to liver damage in some people. Ceylon cinnamon does not typically contain coumarin, whereas Cassia cinnamon contains much more of it.
It’s always best to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you’re taking other medications. To get the health benefits of cinnamon without having to worry about the hazards of coumarin, you can sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon on your food or occasionally drink cinnamon tea.