Spice and everything nice: What are the health benefits of cinnamon?

Our understanding of spices as antioxidant-rich powerhouses is increasing, and a holiday-favorite spice, cinnamon, can have important health benefits.

Kristi King, registered dietitian with Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, says cinnamon has been shown to have many potential health benefits, including:

  • Antioxidants that help rid the body of free radical cells that cause damage
  • Anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial to those with chronic conditions
  • Boosting the body’s immune response
  • Potentially decreasing cholesterolpexels-photo-cinnamon-featured
  • Helping maintain blood sugar levels
  • Possibly decreasing cancer cell growth

King suggests adding cinnamon to a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner foods such as:

  • Oatmeal
  • Sweet potatoes or cooked carrots
  • Pork chops (think apple cinnamon pork chops)

Some holiday favorites that you can add cinnamon to include:

  • Cinnamon rolls
  • Hot chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Yogurt
  • Vanilla ice cream

King warns that although cinnamon tastes great with sugar, consuming large quantities of sugar may negate the health benefit that you are looking for from cinnamon.

She also warns against participating in the ‘cinnamon challenge,’ which can cause coughing, gagging and damage to the lungs.

Try one of King’s favorite holiday recipes that includes cinnamon:

Honey-Cinnamon Carrots

Ingredients

  • 1 package cut carrots
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 ½  tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 Preparation

  1. Steam carrots
  2. In a separate pan, heat honey, butter and cinnamon until butter is melted and stir to blend
  3. Drain carrots and drizzle honey mixture over the carrots and serve

Additional Resources

Recipe: Apple crisp delicious substitute for calorie-laden pie

See more dietitian-recommended recipes.

-By Dipali Pathak

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