While pumpkin spice lattes might be synonymous with fall, there’s another spice just as ubiquitously autumnal. Cinnamon adds a warm flavor to coffee, savory dishes, and ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls perfect for chilly mornings. It's definitely in the spirit of falling leaves and cozy sweaters. Cinnamon is also the best ant repellent I have ever tried. I spread cinnamon on my kitchen floor and swept it toward the floorboards, and I never saw another ant in my house all season.
But cinnamon's got some seriously underrated health benefits, too. For example, it’s an anti-inflammatory superfood that can stimulate the immune system. While most people naturally gravitate toward cinnamon in the fall, here are five health-boosting benefits to using cinnamon regularly.
01. Rich in antioxidants that fight inflammation and boosts immunity
With flu season starting up, everyone is looking for ways to stave off that dreaded sickness. Cinnamon is so rich in antioxidants that it actually tops the list of spices with the highest levels of antioxidants—even higher than oregano, which is used to fight against the flu
Not only does cinnamon support a healthy immune system, it has the potential to reduce systemic inflammation from chronic health conditions—including cancer.
02. Supports balanced insulin and glucose levels in the brain and body
Aging is a natural part of life, of course, but I want my brain to stay sharp forever. Cinnamon is one of those superfoods that can protect the brain from the destabilizing effects of insulin and glucose imbalances, which can be associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Cinnamon can also help promote healthy, responsive insulin levels throughout the body and can help to change the way that your body digests carbohydrates. Cinnamon helps the body’s cells to respond to insulin, which means that more glucose is taken into the cells after it’s eaten. This is beneficial for anyone with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome, but it’s also supportive of healthy digestion and hormone balance in otherwise healthy individuals.
03. Improves blood flow and circulation
The chaos of modern life has more people worried about their blood pressure and heart rate. Now that we have smart watches that alert us when pulse rates are too low or too high and that even perform EKGs, we’re probably more aware of our hearts than ever before, even if we don’t have known heart issues.
Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and this benefit extends to the cardiovascular system and blood circulation throughout the body. It can reduce strain on the heart and can help to keep the blood appropriately thin and slippery—we don’t want our blood to be sluggish or sticky as it travels through veins and arteries. In doing so, cinnamon has a balancing effect on blood pressure and supports a healthy heart muscle while supporting lowered triglyceride levels and boosted HDL cholesterol.
04. Enhances skin health and appearance
Fall weather, while beautiful in most parts of the country, brings with it dry air and wind that can be harsh on skin. Cinnamon can support skin health thanks to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can reduce skin irritation, rashes, and redness when applied topically as cinnamon essential oil. For skin care, always pair cinnamon oil with a carrier oil, like almond oil or jojoba—both of which are also soothing for dry skin.
Make an autumnal face mask to soften skin and brighten complexion by adding a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to raw honey. Spread across the face and let sit for fifteen to twenty minutes, gently removing with a soft, warm wash cloth.
05. Keeps the mouth healthy and breath fresh
Is there anything more annoying than bad breath that won’t go away? Sometimes bad breath goes deeper than needing to brush your teeth, and for women oral health can often be tied to hormones, which can strongly influence the health of gums.
Cinnamon has antibacterial benefits for the mouth, too, and can fight bad-breath causing germs and infection when used as a natural mouthwash. It can even work for tooth infections, gingivitis, and canker sores.
Don’t Be Fooled By Cheap Cinnamon
It’s important to know, however, is that there are two kinds of cinnamon. One of them has a bunch of health benefits and the other is cheap. Of course the cheap one, known as cassia, is the one you’ll easily find on store shelves across the country.
Ceylon cinnamon is rarer and more expensive, but when you’re using cinnamon in pinch-here and dash-there doses, the cost is hardly noticeable. Plus, the health benefits are hard to ignore. Ceylon cinnamon can be found at most health food stores and high end grocery stores like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Fresh Thyme, Earthfare, and more. It can also be found on Amazon, Vitacost, and other online health retailers.
The Easiest Ways to Use Cinnamon This Fall
Other than baking some made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls, you can boost your cinnamon intake by adding a sprinkle to your cup of coffee, latte, or hot chocolate. Even if you’re a black coffee lover, the cinnamon will add just a hint of flavor with an anti-inflammatory burst of goodness. You can also add it to smoothies, juices, and even savory dishes that contain other warming spices, like turmeric and cumin. If you want to use cinnamon for skin or dental health, opt for an organic essential oil that is 100 percent pure.
However you choose to indulge, your taste buds and your health will thank you!