What is cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a spice made by drying and grinding or rolling the inner bark of trees from the Cinnamomum genus.
There are two varieties:
- Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) also called true cinnamon
- Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum), the most popular cinnamon in North America. Its origin can be traced far back to 2000 BC Egypt, where they were used for food, as medicines and to embalm mummies.
Today cinnamon is a reputable condiment with many versatile applications in different cuisines all over the world. Its distinctive aroma is due to the presence of essential oils which are sometimes extracted and sold as a separate entity.
Health benefits of cinnamon
Cinnamon is a very nutrient-dense spice, which makes it beneficial for health in many ways.
It consists of:
- carbohydrates (81%) of which more than half is dietary fiber (53%)
- protein and fat come in very little quantities; 4% and 1% respectively
- for micronutrient content, cinnamon is an excellent source of calcium (1002mg/100g) providing for 100% of the daily value
- it is also a rich source of iron and vitamin K
- cinnamon also contains bioactive compounds like cinnamaldehyde, which are responsible for its aromatic properties and have numerous health benefits
The following are some health benefits of cinnamon:
Cinnamon has an anti-diabetic effect
Cinnamon reduces postprandial blood glucose levels by inhibiting digestive enzymes like α-glucosidase and pancreatic α-amylase in the intestines. By so doing, they delay carbohydrate digestion, which is beneficial for diabetes patients.
Inhibits tau build up in the brain
Tau proteins are highly soluble proteins present in large numbers in neurons located in the central nervous system. They primarily maintain the stability of the internal skeleton of neurons in the brain.
An increase in the activity of certain enzymes, called tau kinase, causes misfolding and clumping of tau proteins. These then accumulate damaging the brain cells vital for learning and memory as seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Cinnamon contains bioactive compounds like cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin which have been demonstrated to inhibit the buildup of tau proteins by interacting with cystine in the proteins and by preventing the oxidation of tau proteins by reactive oxygen species.
Improves heart health
Cinnamon reduces “bad” LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and triglycerides and improves levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein).
LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are both risk factors for heart disease and stroke, as they can lead to plaque build in the arteries, setting the stage for atherosclerosis.
By reducing levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, cinnamon also helps to reduce high blood pressure. Fatty plaque build-up in the arteries reduces the passageway for blood, increasing blood pressure which is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (8).
Is cinnamon acidic or alkaline?
There is very little information on the exact pH level of cinnamon and the data that exist is conflicting as to whether cinnamon is acidic or alkaline.
Some say it is acidic and has a pH range of 4.0-4.50, some others say it ranges between 3.54-3.80, but when dissolved in water the pH increases to 7.20-7.42, making it have an alkalizing effect.
Even though raw cinnamon is acidic, when digested, it seems to have an alkalizing effect on the body, like most spices.
Is cinnamon good for acid reflux?
We found no research study presently that demonstrates whether cinnamon is good for acid reflux or not.
While some sensitive people have reported that cinnamon triggers reflux episodes in them, some others support that consuming cinnamon soothes their reflux symptoms, especially if consumed in little quantities.
Sensitive people are generally advised to cut off the consumption of spicy foods from their diets, and since cinnamon is a spice, most professionals advise leaving out cinnamon from your diet.
Can cinnamon trigger heartburn?
Cinnamon delays gastric emptying after eating a high-carbohydrate meal. However, it seems to have no effect on gastric emptying after a high-fat meal.
Delayed gastric emptying may not be good for people with reflux, since the longer food stays in the stomach, the higher the chances of reflux episodes. This is one reason it is believed to trigger heartburn in sensitive people.
Can cinnamon soothe GERD symptoms?
On the other hand, the bioactive compounds in cinnamon have proven anti-inflammatory properties, thus it is believed to be beneficial for those with reflux since inflammation of the esophagus is common with them.
Cinnamon also has a prebiotic effect on gut microbiota, boosting gut health by preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria that jeopardize the integrity of the gut.
How to use cinnamon as a heartburn remedy?
Cinnamon is often mixed with other ingredients to provide a tasty acid reflux remedy:
Tumeric and cinnamon for heartburn
Tumeric (Curcuma longa) has been reported to relieve heartburn in many sensitive people. It contains a substance called curcumin which is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
Curcumin protects the epithelial cells of the esophageal mucosa from damage caused by reflux esophagitis (esophageal inflammation). As an antioxidant, it protects the gut against oxidative stress which is crucial in combating the development of esophageal mucosa damage caused by acidity.
So, combining cinnamon with turmeric might be a better remedy for heartburn.
Honey and cinnamon for heartburn
Honey is a natural sugar that is recommended as a home remedy for people suffering from heartburn.
A teaspoon or tablespoon of honey is said to be safe to soothe heartburn symptoms. So, combining honey and cinnamon might help soothe heartburn, especially if both are consumed in moderate quantities.
Cinnamon gum for acid reflux
Chewing sugar-free gum is a great way to help prevent acid reflux because the chewing action helps increase the secretion of saliva that neutralizes acid in the esophagus.
So, for those whose heartburn is not triggered by cinnamon, chewing on cinnamon gum after meals can be soothing.
Cinnamon & acid reflux trigger foods
Since cinnamon is a spice with versatile use, it can be present in many spicy foods, fried foods fast foods, baked foods, chocolate, ice-creams, candies, puddings, desserts, and caffeine- containing products and teas.
Such foods are common heartburn trigger foods because they have been proven over time to provoke acid reflux and heartburn in sensitive people.
Those who have heartburn after eating cinnamon might actually experience symptoms because of some other ingredients in their meals.
Cinnamon is a spice with numerous applications in the culinary arts. It also has several health benefits.
Cinnamon is generally classified as an acid reflux trigger food for people suffering from GERD. However, to some others, it is not a sensitive food and can soothe their heartburn symptoms.
So, if you are unsure if cinnamon is a trigger food for you, you can start by consuming a little amount of it. If it triggers your reflux symptoms, then you should cut it off your diet.
If cinnamon is not a trigger food for you, then you stand a chance to benefit from all its numerous health benefits.
Moderation however is the key, as excess consumption in sensitive people can worsen our reflux symptoms.
Frequently asked questions
WebMD recommends 2-4 grams a day. More than that might cause unwanted side effects.
Eating too much cinnamon might cause side effects like low blood sugar, breathing problems, and interactions with certain drugs (drugs for diabetes, heart or liver issues).