Cinnamon is a powerful spice that has been used medicinally around the world for many years. It is still used daily in many cultures because of its widespread health benefits, sweet, warming taste, and ease of use in recipes. Out of twenty-six of the most popular and medicinal spices in the world, cinnamon ranks #1 in terms of its protective antioxidant levels! Anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, immunity-boosting, and potential cancer and heart disease-protecting abilities—Cinnamon is truly a magical spice that adds spark to any dish or drink. Here are the top eight health benefits of cinnamon and the simple ways you can start incorporating it into your everyday life. 

The Nutritional Scoop

In just one tablespoon of ground cinnamon, there is...

• 0 grams of fat, sugar, or protein

• 4 grams of fiber

• 68 percent daily value manganese

• 8 percent daily value calcium

• 3 percent daily value vitamin K

• 4 percent daily value iron

• 19 calories

Clearly, just a dash of cinnamon goes a long way, and its antioxidant features make it especially beneficial to add to your diet. Even a half teaspoon of cinnamon daily can have positive effects on digestion and blood sugar levels. Here is a concise rundown of the magical spice without the complex, scientific jargon. Because let's be real—we just want to get to the good stuff.

1) Antioxidants

Packed with a variety of protective antioxidants that decrease free radical damage, cinnamon helps slow the aging process. Similar foods with these antioxidants include red wine, dark chocolate, and berries, which all fight stress in the body. Pictured above is an easy and delicious way of adding cinnamon to your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate

2) Anti-Inflammatory

The anti-inflammatory effects of cinnamon can lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, brain function decline, and much more. Since cinnamon lowers swelling and inflammation, it can also be beneficial in pain management. Studies show that it can help relieve muscle soreness, PMS pains (I'm here for that), and severity of allergic reactions. 

3) Heart Health

Another health benefit of cinnamon is its ability to reduce some of the most common risk factors of heart disease, including high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, and high cholesterol levels. In addition, cinnamon aids in blood circulation and promotes body tissue repair, which is especially important for heart tissue, which requires stability to fight off heart attack and stroke. These same properties give cinnamon its anti-diabetic effect

4) Defends Against Cognitive Decline & Protects Brain Function

Research has also concluded that cinnamon's high levels of antioxidants can help defend the brain against developing neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. It does so by engaging neuro-protective proteins that ward off brain cell mutation.

5) Lowers Risk of Cancer

Another advantage of cinnamon's antioxidant properties is its safeguarding against DNA damage and cancerous tumor growth. This is especially true in the colon, reducing the risk of colon cancer. So start adding cinnamon to your diet with tasty meals such as the cinnamon pancakes in the picture above.

6) Dental Health

The extracts found in cinnamon are shown to be protective against bacteria living in the oral microflora that could cause bad breath, tooth decay, cavities or mouth infections. Essentially, the essential oil from cinnamon is so potent that it acts as a natural anti-bacterial mouthwash. Like peppermint, cinnamon is also used as a natural flavoring agent in gum for its refreshing taste.  

7) Fights Infection & Disease

As a natural anti-microbial, antibiotic, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent, cinnamon helps defend the body from illness, especially in its essential oil form. Add spice and warmth to your smoothie with a dash of cinnamon, which goes especially well with peanut butter and banana. 

8) Skin Health

The same anti-biotic and anti-microbial effects that cinnamon contains to ward off infection also protects the skin from rashes, irritations, and allergic reactions. Using cinnamon essential oil on the skin reduces inflammation, redness, and swelling. In fact, cinnamon is commonly used in combination with honey to boost skin health, with specific emphasis on acne and rosacea.

Now, I'm not in any way vouching for the popular "Cinnamon Challenge" to increase your intake of cinnamon (please, don't try it). Simply sprinkle it in your morning cup of coffee or tea, mix in oatmeal or smoothies, or powder on top of peanut butter toast or yogurt to start adding some health to your life.