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What Are the Health Benefits of Cinnamon in Coffee?

Adding cinnamon and cocoa to coffee may enhance its benefits for blood sugar and heart health as well as its flavor. Our reader tells how to do this.

Have you been hearing that cinnamon is good for you? Or maybe you’re worried about the potential health hazards of cinnamon but unsure of what they could be. Perhaps you have been wondering how you might take it safely. One reader found a way to put cinnamon in coffee.

The Delights of Cinnamon in Coffee:

Q. Our family has been adding cinnamon to our coffee for years. We put a mixture of cinnamon and cocoa powder (no sugar) into the coffee filter. Then, we put another filter on top of the cinnamon-cocoa filter in which we put the coffee. It gives the coffee a slight chocolate-cinnamon flavor. Yum! Are there any health benefits?

Is Cinnamon in Coffee Good for You?

A. Cinnamon can help keep post-meal blood sugar from spiking (Lipids in Health and Disease, June 12, 2017).  It may also help control cholesterol levels (Clinical Nutrition, online March 11, 2018). Along with blood sugar, cinnamon also appears to help moderate blood pressure (Diabetic Medicine, Oct. 2010).

Putting cinnamon in coffee as you do takes care of one problem we worry about with cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon, the common spice you probably have on your kitchen shelf, contains varying levels of a compound called coumarin. At high enough levels, coumarin can be toxic to the liver. However, coumarin is not water-soluble. By adding cinnamon to a filter and pouring hot water over it, you get the benefits of cinnamon in coffee without the risk.

You are smart to use a disposable filter. Powdered cinnamon can gum up a metal filter and cause a mess that is difficult to clean up.

Is Cocoa in Coffee Good for You?

Some research indicates that cocoa might also have health benefits, reducing the risk of cardiovascular complications and diabetes (Clinical Nutrition, online, June 1, 2018). Although most research has focused on the health benefits of cocoa flavonoid compounds without sugar (as you are getting in your coffee), one meta-analysis even found that chocolate could help lower the likelihood of stroke, heart attack, heart disease and heart failure (Heart, online July 30, 2018). The optimal dose appears to be around 45 grams/week, about an ounce and a half.

The Health Benefits of Coffee:

Coffee itself appears to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (Diabetes Care, Feb. 2014). Caffeinated and decaf coffee work equally well. People who drink coffee are also less likely to develop liver disease (PLoS One, Nov. 10, 2015). Those who consume one to three cups daily appear to enjoy healthier blood pressure levels than those who drink more or less (Nutrients, March 14, 2017).

Learn More:

To learn more about a variety of ways to control blood sugar, including other natural approaches, you may wish to read our People’s Pharmacy Guide to Managing Diabetes. Anyone who would like a printed copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped, self-addressed envelope:

  • Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy
  • No. DM-11
  • P. O. Box 52027
  • Durham, NC 27717-2027

You may also wish to read other articles we have written, such as this one on the health benefits of chocolate and this one on the benefits of cinnamon. Our podcast, How to Prevent Diabetes by Changing Your Life, may also interest you.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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