Some people take cinnamon supplements to reduce their cholesterol. While some studies suggest it has a cholesterol-lowering effect, conclusive evidence is lacking. Diet and lifestyle changes may be more effective for people with high blood cholesterol.
This article will look into the effects of cinnamon on cholesterol, how a person can reduce their cholesterol, and when to see a doctor.
Cinnamon is a type of spice. Several types of cinnamon exist. They come from different species of the cinnamon tree.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) notes that the
Cinnamon comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree. It can come in powdered form or sticks of dried bark. Additionally, people sometimes take cinnamon as a dietary supplement.
People use cinnamon in sweet and savory foods. Countries such as China, India, and Iran have also used cinnamon in traditional medicine.
There is some controversy about whether cinnamon can lower cholesterol. Below, we look at what cholesterol is and what research says about cinnamon’s effect on cholesterol.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a substance that the body uses to build cells and make vitamins and hormones. A person’s liver makes all the cholesterol they need. Cholesterol is also taken into the body from the food a person eats.
Lipoproteins carry cholesterol around a person’s bloodstream. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol.
Experts sometimes refer to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) as “good” cholesterol, as it transports cholesterol back to the liver. The liver then removes it from the body.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as “bad” cholesterol. This can build up inside a person’s arteries, leading to blockages. These blockages can cause health conditions, such as heart attack or stroke.
Learn more about HDL vs. LDL cholesterol.
Research into the effects of cinnamon on cholesterol
Researchers found that, after 16 weeks, participants who took 3 grams (g) of cinnamon supplements daily had:
These improvements were more significant in people who had taken cinnamon supplements than in those who did not. However, researchers note that further studies are needed to investigate these effects.
Researchers also gave participants healthy diets to follow and encouraged them to exercise. Additionally, the researchers did not mention the kind of cinnamon used.
A research review from 2021 looked at various studies on the effects of cinnamon on cholesterol. Reviewers found several studies concluding that cinnamon helped reduce LDL cholesterol in people with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Reviewers also noted that in a study in healthy participants, LDL levels were lowered after 3 months of treatment with increasing levels of cinnamon. However, HDL levels did not improve. Another study in healthy participants found no difference in cholesterol levels between people taking cinnamon and those not.
Yet another study in the review found no difference in cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes after daily treatment with 1 g of cinnamon for 3 months.
Researchers found that, after 28 days, the LDL and total cholesterol levels of people taking the supplements were similar to those of people taking a placebo. Researchers also stated that dietary supplements are unlikely to directly affect a person’s cholesterol levels.
People should speak with their doctor before changing their diet if they want to lower their cholesterol levels. Supplements should never be used in place of prescription medication.
People claim various spices may help lower a person’s cholesterol. There is some evidence that the following spices may help to improve a person’s cholesterol levels. However, these spices should not be used instead of prescribed medication.
A 2018 study found that taking 5 g of raw ginger daily for 3 months reduced LDL levels in people with high cholesterol. However, the study size was fairly small, so further research is required to confirm these effects.
Learn more about the health benefits of ginger.
A review from 2022 looked into the effects of capsaicin on cholesterol. Capsaicin is a component of chili peppers. Reviewers found that eight out of nine studies researched found that capsaicin reduced LDL levels in people with metabolic syndrome.
However, reviewers also found that eight out of nine studies indicated that capsaicin did not affect HDL.
Learn more about the health benefits of capsaicin.
However, people taking garlic and lemon juice and those in other groups that took garlic or lemon juice had only an increase in HDL levels. Researchers note that more studies into these effects are required.
Learn more about the health benefits of garlic.
Reviewers found seven studies that stated that turmeric and curcumin could reduce LDL levels in people at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, reviewers suggested further studies should be undertaken into these effects.
Learn more about the health benefits of turmeric.
A person can reduce their cholesterol levels by changing their lifestyle. The
- Limit saturated fats: Decrease intake of foods high in saturated fat, such as cheese, dairy, fatty meats, and tropical oils, such as palm oil.
- Eat a healthy diet: For a balanced, nutritious diet, choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, salt, and added sugar, such as fruit and vegetables.
- Add fiber to your diet: Consume foods that naturally have high fiber, such as oatmeal and beans.
- Eat unsaturated fats: Foods that contain unsaturated fats include avocados and nuts.
- Lose weight if you need to: As needed, lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight. This can lower blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help people maintain a healthy weight.
- Stop smoking: Smoking can damage blood vessels, harden arteries, and increase the risk of heart disease.
- Limit alcohol intake: Too much alcohol can raise cholesterol levels.
A doctor may also prescribe cholesterol-reducing medication, such as statins.
High cholesterol levels do not cause any symptoms. This means that a person should have their cholesterol levels checked regularly.
The CDC recommends that a healthy person should have their cholesterol levels checked
Additionally, a person with a family history of high cholesterol should have their levels checked more often.
The CDC also suggests that children and adolescents between ages 9 and 11 and ages 17 and 21 should have their cholesterol levels checked.
Learn more about cholesterol level tests.
Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the bark of cinnamon trees. Some research suggests that cinnamon may be able to improve cholesterol levels. However, more research is needed to assess cinnamon’s effect on cholesterol.
A person should never use cinnamon or other supplements in place of prescribed medication.
People claim that various other spices can improve cholesterol levels. However, these effects require more studies before they can be confirmed.
A person can reduce their cholesterol levels with lifestyle changes. Additionally, a doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication to people with high cholesterol.
High cholesterol levels do not cause any symptoms. This means a person should have their cholesterol levels checked by a doctor every 4 to 6 years.