Can Taking Cinnamon Lower Your Cholesterol?

Cinnamon sticks
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Cinnamon is a plant that has a variety of uses among many different cultures, from spicing up foods to deterring germs from growing. There are two forms of cinnamon that are commonly found in foods:

  • Cinnamomum verum - also known as “true” cinnamon, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, or Ceylon cinnamon. This type of cinnamon is commonly used in sweet pastries.
  • Cinnamomum cassia - also known as cassia, Chinese cinnamon or “bastard” cinnamon. This type of cinnamon is a stronger spice that is used in a variety of foods. In fact, it is cassia-based cinnamon that is often seen on the grocery shelves and is typically cheaper than true cinnamon.

    There’s been a lot of talk lately about the health benefits of cinnamon, but can it lower cholesterol levels? Some scientists studying cinnamon say that it might have potential. Much of the information publicized about cinnamon mostly concerns its role in lowering blood sugar in diabetes. During some of these studies, scientists also found evidence that, along with lowering glucose levels, cinnamon may also lower lipid levels.

    What Have the Studies Proven?

    There are not many studies examining the impact that taking cinnamon has on lipid levels. Most studies have examined the effectiveness of cinnamon in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes. In these studies, cassia cinnamon was more commonly used. Doses ranging between to 1 to 6 grams of C. cassia cinnamon given in food or as a supplement were taken by individuals for up to 2 months. A few of these studies found that cinnamon could lower LDL cholesterol by up to 27%.

    Total cholesterol and triglyceride levels appeared to be lowered by up to 25% and 30%, respectively. One study showed that cinnamon’s lipid-lowering effect appeared to be dose-dependent – that is, the higher the amount of cinnamon taken, the more LDL, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels were lowered.

     HDL cholesterol levels did not appear to be significantly lowered in any of these studies.

    On the other hand, most studies have not noted a relationship between cinnamon intake and lowered lipid levels. However, a few animal studies examining the effect of C. zeylanicum noted a significant increase in HDL cholesterol levels.

    How Does Cinnamon Lower Cholesterol Levels?

    It is not known how cinnamon can affect cholesterol and triglyceride levels. One animal study revealed that one ingredient, cinnamate may be able to lower the activity of an enzyme that makes cholesterol in the body called HMG CoA reductase - the same enzyme targeted by statins. Another animal study suggested that cinnamon may reduce microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTTP), which can also lower the amount of VLDL and LDL cholesterol in the body.  Cinnamaldyhyde has also been identified as potential component found in cinnamon that can help lower cholesterol levels, although how it lowers cholesterol is not known.

    The Bottom Line

    The research conducted on cinnamon so far has not conclusively proven that it can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

    Although some studies appeared to show promise, other studies did not see a lipid-lowering effect. Therefore, more studies are needed to determine how effective cinnamon would be in reducing your lipids. You should speak to your healthcare provider first before adding cinnamon to your lipid-lowering regimen, since it is not known if it can worsen certain medical conditions or interact with other medications you are taking.   


    Khan A et al. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2003;26: 3215-3218.

    Vanschoonbeek K, Thomassen BJW, Senden JM et al. Cinnamon supplementation does not improve glycemic control in postmenopausal type 2 diabetes patients. J Nutr 2006;126:977-980.

    Mang B et al. Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA1c and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2. Eur J Clin Invest 2006; 36:340-344.

    Vafa M, Mohammadi F, Shidfar F et al. Effects of cinnamon consumption on glycemic status, lipid profile, and body consumption in type 2 diabetic patients. Int J Prev Med  2012;3:531-536.

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