Feature Image by Luisa Schetinger

When it comes to health foods sitting in your cabinet, cinnamon may not be the first item that comes to mind. But this spice can be incorporated into your diet to help with everything from managing blood sugar to fighting off period cramps. Plus, it has a soothing taste and unique fragrance, which makes it easy to consume.

“Cinnamon is a powerful spice that has been used medicinally around the world for thousands of years,” says Carol Aguirre, a registered and licensed dietitian and nutritionist. “It is still used daily in many cultures because of its widespread benefits and also because of its sweet, distinct taste and ease of use in recipes.”

Read on to learn exactly the antioxidant-filled ingredient can do for your health.

Helps lower blood sugar
Adding cinnamon to your food (especially starches) may help slow the breakdown of starch as well as glucose absorption, says registered dietitian Carrie Walder. Since cinnamon has been shown to help lower glucose levels, it may also be used to help with prediabetes or type two diabetes. “That said, there is not enough evidence to support using cinnamon as a stand-alone treatment for type two diabetes,” says Walder. “Rather, it may be used as an adjunct to traditional therapies, but always discuss with your health professional first.”

Fights inflammation
“Researchers have acknowledged many flavonoids in cinnamon, which are effective in fighting inflammation levels in the body,” says Aguirre. “Since cinnamon lowers swelling and prevents inflammation, it can also be helpful in pain management.” Therefore, the reduction in inflammation can also help reduce muscle soreness. Although more studies need to be done, research is exploring the beneficial effects that cinnamon may have in treating Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and atherosclerosis, according to Walder.

Boosts heart health
Incorporate cinnamon into your diet, and your heart will thank you. “Cinnamon has been shown to decrease the most common risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, and high blood pressure, to keep your heart healthy and strong,” says Aguirre.

Helps with PMS
If you suffer from period pain, cinnamon may be able to provide some relief. One study found that taking cinnamon capsules reduced pain, menstrual bleeding, nausea, and vomiting in college students. Another study found that cinnamon supplements reduced pelvic cramps. “The study gave participants cinnamon supplements, which is definitely more than you put on your morning oatmeal, but any little bit helps,” says Natalie Rizzo, a sports dietitian.

Dental health benefits
Yep, cinnamon can even help keep your smile sparkly clean. Cinnamon is anti-bacterial, so it can be used as a natural mouthwash to fight bacteria in the mouth. “Studies have shown that cinnamon aids in oral hygiene and may protect against bacteria that cause bad breath, cavities, and possibly mouth infections,” says Aguirre.

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xx, The FabFitFun Team