Cinnamon not only tastes delicious, but it has many excellent health benefits.
You can enjoy cinnamon with many different foods, as long as you don’t overdo it. Consuming too much cinnamon has its drawbacks and we’ll look at them here.
Eating cinnamon is safe during pregnancy in moderate food amounts and as a flavoring ingredient. However, too much cinnamon can cause problems, so large amounts of cinnamon (including supplements or oils) should be avoided during pregnancy.
Those instances in pregnancy where you’ll want to be careful with cinnamon are investigated here, along with some foods containing cinnamon, too.
Is Cinnamon Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
There are many types of cinnamon, but you’ll usually only come across the two main types:
Ceylon cinnamon is known as ‘true’ cinnamon and is mostly grown in Sri Lanka. It is usually smaller, denser, and more ‘flaky’ looking.
Cassia cinnamon, which is grown in Southeast Asia, is the most common type of cinnamon sold in the US. This comes as thicker rolls of bark.
Cassia bark can be powdered or whole (in sticks) and is also used to flavor both sweet and savory recipes. It is sometimes added to Ceylon cinnamon, although it is thicker and coarser (Source: Wikipedia).
There is also Indonesian cinnamon and Vietnamese cinnamon (less common in the US).
These types of cinnamon are safe when eaten in foods as a spice or to add flavor, although “true” Ceylon cinnamon is preferable given that its levels of coumarin are lower than cassia cinnamon (Source: NIH).
Coumarin may be toxic to the liver, and is only a concern if a large amount of cinnamon (more than 6g) is eaten frequently, over a long period of time. Using cinnamon occasionally, in moderation, is likely safe (source: WebMD).
However, using any cinnamon as a supplement (rather than just in food amounts) during pregnancy may be unsafe, as cinnamon supplements are more concentrated than the traces of cinnamon found in foods (Source: NIH).
For similar reasons, taking cinnamon oil as a food is not recommended during pregnancy.
Cinnamon Dishes and Pregnancy Safety
People most often consume ground cinnamon, which comes as a powder and is commonly used in many foods.
Cinnamon is safe when eaten in small food amounts. For example:
- Baked goods: cinnamon rolls, muffins, apple turnovers, holiday cookies, breads
- Breakfast foods: cereals, cereal bars, toast
- Desserts: apple pie, pumpkin pie, some custards, ice cream, puddings.
- Savory dishes: soups, sauces, curries, flavored rice.
- Other items: candies, chewing gum, spice blends such as garam masala or Chinese five-spice, or sprinkled over coffees or lattes
All these foods – and ones similar to them – are all fine during pregnancy.
It is worth noting, however, that many common products that contain cinnamon also contain large amounts of sugar.
Excess sugar is not recommended in pregnancy and should be avoided, particularly if you have diabetes, or are at risk of developing it.
Products such as cinnamon crunch cereal, cinnamon toast, cinnamon danish/rolls, or cinnamon bread tend to contain these high amounts of sugar, along with excess calories and fat.
For example, one large cinnamon roll can rack up almost 700 calories and around 40g each of fat and sugar (source: USDA). These foods are fine as an occasional treat, but shouldn’t be eaten often when you’re pregnant.
The USDA recommends that adults consume no more than ten teaspoons of sugar a day, which is actually one-third less than the current average level of consumption (Source: USDA).
Does Cinnamon Have Benefits During Pregnancy?
Cinnamon can have several potential benefits during pregnancy.
If you have diabetes, you may like to know that cinnamon may help lower your fasting blood sugar levels (Source: PMC).
Cinnamon may also help lower your blood pressure if you have type 2 diabetes, or are pre-diabetic (Source: ScienceDirect).
However, bear in mind that cinnamon often appears in high-sugar foods, as described above, so this may ‘cancel out’ any potential benefit.
The polyphenols in cinnamon can also help boost your immune system, which tends to be weakened while you’re pregnant.
These polyphenols (antioxidants) help your body fight free radicals which are waste products produced naturally by the body but that if not eliminated can cause damage to cells and therefore illness.
Cinnamon has been shown to have potentially powerful antibacterial effects, although excessive use is not recommended (Source: MDPI).
Cinnamon has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which may lower your risk of disease as well as help with any pain or swelling in your joints that you may experience while pregnant.
It is also reported to be antimicrobial, inhibiting the growth of listeria and e.Coli in food products (Source: PR).
Cinnamon may also be anti-cancer, lipid-lowering (reducing cholesterol levels), and even effective against neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s since it has shown to act as a cognition enhancer.
The active components of cinnamon are also said to help protect the heart since they can have a relaxing effect on blood vessels (Source: PMC).
Cinnamon also acts as a coagulant and so prevents bleeding, and it may increase the blood circulation in the uterus and advances tissue regeneration (Source: PMC).
These are all positive potential benefits, but since cinnamon is only safe in food amounts, it’s not worth taking it in excess in order to benefit – you can just enjoy it as a side-effect of cinnamon in food!
Is Cinnamon Tea Safe For Pregnant Women to Drink?
Cinnamon tea is made from the inner bark of the tree which is then dried and rolled up into sticks.
In terms of safety, cinnamon tea is safe for pregnant women to drink, and it has the same overall benefits as small amounts of cinnamon powder.
The USDA recommends that consuming the equivalent of half a teaspoon of cinnamon per day or less can give a range of benefits and is considered safe (Source: USDA).
Most teas, such as cinnamon and lemon or cinnamon and honey, contain very little cinnamon per cup and are safe to drink.
One cup of cinnamon tea contains only 2.4 calories, plus traces of potassium, calcium, and iron (Source: Nutritionix).
Considering that cinnamon is best consumed in moderation, it’s a good idea to have cinnamon tea a couple of times a week, rather than every day.
Does Cinnamon Have Side Effects In Pregnancy?
As with any ingredient, cinnamon can cause side effects if you’re allergic or sensitive to it.
Also, because it’s a coagulant, you are better off avoiding cinnamon if you take blood-thinning medication (Source: PMC). You don’t want to bleed too much during delivery, particularly if you have a cesarean section.
Another important thing to know about cassia cinnamon is that it contains coumarin which can be damaging to the liver.
If you have any sensitivities or weaknesses in your liver, you may want to avoid it altogether, although usually, issues come about when people consume cassia cinnamon over a long period of time (Source: NIH).
Cinnamon essential oil is quite concentrated and is not recommended when you’re pregnant, as its high concentration of cinnamon can cause cell death (Source: MDPI).
Does Cinnamon Induce Labor?
There is currently no scientific evidence to support that cinnamon induces labor.
Cinnamon has been shown to relax certain muscles in the body, but its effects on the muscles of the uterus are unknown.
On the contrary, one study shows that cinnamon may be used to help avoid pre-term labor and alleviate menstrual pain (Source: ResearchGate).
Overall, cinnamon is safe to consume in food and in the occasional cup of tea.
Avoid any cinnamon supplements, as they are unnecessary and could be harmful, but enjoy it in baked goods and treats once in a while!
This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.