Cinnamon is the Taylor Swift of pantry spices: Warm, sweet, and just a teeny bit fiery. It’s also a welcome collaborator in pretty much anything, versatile enough to elevate everything from cookies and banana bread to chili and curries. Besides amping up the flavor in whatever it’s being added to, it increases the nutrient density, too. With cinnamon, there’s only healthy highs, no lows.
Here, Gabrielle McGrath, RD, who works as a registered dietitian for Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, explains what makes cinnamon such a healthy win to keep stocked in your pantry. And you don’t have to cook with the spice to reap its benefits; there’s plenty of ways you can work it into your drinks, too. In addition to the health benefits of cinnamon, highlighted here are five cinnamon drinks you can easily make at home.
Remind me: What are the health benefits of cinnamon?
1. it could boost your metabolism
According to a study published in the journal Metabolism, regular consumption of cinnamon may help improve metabolism to support healthy weight management. The study found that cinnamaldehyde (a compound in cinnamon) can trigger fat cells to burn energy that they would typically store.
2. cinnamon helps reduce inflammation in the body
“Anti-inflammatory foods contain natural components called phytonutrients that may help protect against inflammation,” McGrath says, adding that cinnamon’s anti-inflammatory properties may help keep any chronic inflammation in check. “This is beneficial to heart health because inflammation may aid in the production of more plaques and promote blood clots which are the primary causes of heart attacks and strokes,” she says.
3. it protects the body from free radicals
“The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in cinnamon are what allows it to be such a powerful superfood to humans,” McGrath says, explaining that antioxidants protect your body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. “Free radicals are what cause damage to parts of cells such as proteins, DNA, and cell membranes leading to things like premature aging and numerous chronic diseases. The anti-inflammatory properties prevent or reduce low-grade chronic inflammation which can lead to numerous health issues and serious diseases.”
4. cinnamon helps keep blood sugar levels steady
Even though it tastes sweet, cinnamon doesn’t spike blood sugar; in fact, it keeps it steady. This means that consuming it won’t mess with energy levels or mood. But McGrath emphasizes that cinnamon alone won’t steady blood sugar levels if you’re still consuming other unhealthy foods. “Instead, it is an important tool in your health toolbox to prevent these unpleasant side effects or diseases,” she says.
Watch the video below to learn more about the cinnamon and blood sugar levels:
5. it can help boost the immune system.
When cells communicate better (thanks to antioxidants), it helps the immune system, McGrath says. “The immune system depends on fast and precise communication between cells for it to perform at its best. If there is any free radical damage to cell communication, it will result in a weakened immune system,” she says. Adding a dash of cinnamon to your immunity shot will not only make it easier to knock back, it ups the benefits, too.
5 cinnamon drinks you can make at home
While it may look and taste like dessert, this cinnamon latte is actually low in sugar. Besides the starring spice, it uses vanilla extract and just a touch of maple syrup. Blend them into your favorite nut milk and coffee (or espresso, if you have an espresso machine at home) and you have yourself a fancy coffee-based cinnamon drink.
If you’re more of a tea drinker, this cinnamon drink just might become your new favorite. It also has turmeric, another powerful inflammation fighter. Together, they make the perfect blend of savory and sweet, without being too overwhelming in either direction.
This smoothie is so decadent that it works just as well for dessert as it does for breakfast. Besides the cinnamon, all you need are three other ingredients to make it: nut milk, banana, peanut butter, and honey. In addition to the cinnamon working to reduce inflammation, the peanut butter gives good protein and the banana helps replenish potassium, which can be lost through sweating, making this smoothie a great workout recovery drink, too.
If you want to consume cinnamon for the benefit of boosting your immune system, this shot is a good way to do it. Also in the small-but-strong serving is turmeric, lemon juice, ginger, and black pepper. It’s potent, but effective.
This cinnamon hot chocolate tastes like warm gingerbread fresh from the oven, only in liquid form. The secret to getting the taste just right is blending the cinnamon with a few other key spices: ginger, all spice, cardamom, cloves, and vanilla. Oh, and cocoa of course—can’t forget the chocolate!