Cinnamon is the third most gobbled up spice in the world and can be added to anything from curries to cookies, and now emerging research suggests this popular spice could protect against bowel cancer as well.
Researchers at the University of Arizona recently found that cinnamaldehyde – the oil found in cinnamon – could potentially suppress bowel cancer when added to food.
The study showed that the oil acted as a protective coating against cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens) and helped cells to detox and repair.
Cinnamaldeyde comes from the bark of Ceylon cinnamon, Cinnamomum zeylanicum and Cinnamomum cassia (also known as sweet cinnamon).
The most common type of cinnamon found in supermarkets is sweet cinnamon, which is a less expensive spice.
While these researchers have found a connection between the chemical cinnamaldehyde and bowel health, further studies would be needed to determine whether whole cinnamon can prevent cancer in the human diet. However, there is existing research to back up their claims.
For example it has long been thought that plants like cinnamon contain the antioxidant, glutathione, which provides a protective effect against cancer.
And according to another study from the US, cinnamon also produces naturally occurring chemicals, known as phytochemicals, which can also help protect against bowel cancer.
So, is it time to add more cinnamon into your diet? Well, yes and no. For the moment, cinnamon is registered in Australia as a spice, but not as an additive, which means it’s considered safe when sprinkled on food but shouldn’t be used in excess.
In fact, large amounts of cinnamon are potentially dangerous and could interfere with certain medications (eg blood thinning medications) or lead to lung damage if inhaled.
For now, there is no reliable data regarding the exact safe dose of cinnamon for humans, so the best advice is to enjoy cinnamon in moderation.
Use it as a seasoning in your mains, or add a little sprinkle to your favourite cake or cookie recipe. After all, everyone needs a little spice in their life every now and then!