When you think of cinnamon, you might conjure up images of hot apple pie or warm-from-the-oven oatmeal cookies. And of course, there wouldn’t be cinnamon toast without it. You’d probably never imagine, though, that cinnamon has health benefits. In fact, researchers recently discovered that this warming spice can actually help lower your blood sugar. Some of the natural compounds in cinnamon have the ability to mimic insulin, helping glucose get into cells, where it can be used for energy, and significantly lowering blood sugar in the process.

One study involving 60 men and women found that taking as little as 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon a day lowered blood sugar by 18 to 29 percent. It also reduced bad LDL cholesterol by 7 to 27 percent in people with diabetes.

You probably also wouldn’t guess that cinnamon is a good source of fiber (although actually, it’s not so surprising when you consider that it comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree). Two teaspoons provides 2.5 grams of fiber—more than 1/2 cup of raw cabbage or bell peppers or two dried apricot halves.

Cinnamon also contains the mineral manganese, which may help improve the way your body uses blood sugar. Just 2 teaspoons can set you up with more than one-third of the manganese you need for the day.

Health Bonus
The natural chemicals in cinnamon can help prevent blood platelets from clumping together and forming dangerous clots that can trigger a heart attack. And studies show that a mere whiff of cinnamon can boost brain activity and improve concentration.

Glycemic Load: Very low

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