Cinnamon (also called Dalchini in some countries) 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 during pregnancy 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 During Pregnancy?
First, let’s talk about cinnamon as a food. 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).
How Much Cinnamon is Safe During Pregnancy?
Again, we’re talking about culinary/food doses here. Health experts recommend that pregnant women limit their cinnamon intake to no more than 1-2 grams (roughly half to one teaspoon) of cinnamon per day. This recommendation ensures that you reap the benefits without overdoing it.
This means that if you’re sprinkling it on your morning yogurt, or eating a heavily spiced muffin, it’s perfectly okay! I’ve put together some healthy ideas on how to incorporate cinnamon into your pregnancy diet later in this article.
Be aware, though, that using any cinnamon as a supplement (rather than just in food amounts) during pregnancy may be unsafe.
Cinnamon Supplements During Pregnancy
Cinnamon supplements are far more concentrated than the traces of cinnamon found in foods (Source: NIH). While cinnamon supplements are often marketed for their potential health benefits, it’s important to exercise moderation and consult healthcare providers before making any changes during pregnancy.
Too much cinnamon may have adverse effects. Food amounts are okay, but supplements are best left until after your baby is born.
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, or cinnamon bread tend to contain these high amounts of sugar, along with excess calories and fat.
In moderate amounts, these can be part of a balanced diet for pregnant women. However, it is important to remember that cinnamon cereals, like any other sugar-filled cereals, should not be the primary source of nutrition during pregnancy. Additionally, some pregnant women may have sensitivity to certain flavors or spices, so it’s essential to listen to your body and adjust your diet accordingly.
Cinnabon and other Cinnamon Rolls During Pregnancy
As someone who craves Cinnabon and other cinnamon rolls often- pregnant or not! I can totally understand how many people crave sweet treats during pregnancy. However, it’s essential to consider the nutritional content and the potential effects on blood sugar levels when indulging in these pastries.
Cinnamon rolls, such as those from Cinnabon, are high in sugar, 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. Overconsumption of high-calorie and high-sugar food during pregnancy can lead to excessive weight gain and increased risk of gestational diabetes. Controlling blood sugar levels, especially during pregnancy, is important since uncontrolled blood sugar can have adverse effects on both the mother and the baby.
To satisfy your sweet cravings during pregnancy, moderation is key. Enjoying a cinnamon roll occasionally is unlikely to cause significant harm. However, it’s crucial to balance this indulgence with healthier food choices and maintain a well-rounded diet. The good news is you can get a cinnamon flavor into most food, including healthier options (discussed later on).
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.
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).
Cinnamon and Gestational Diabetes: Can It Help?
I have come across several studies that explore the potential benefits of cinnamon for individuals with gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that affects some women during pregnancy, and it can lead to increased insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels.
The results of a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study showed that cinnamon might help improve glycemic control (blood sugar levels) in patients with gestational diabetes. In this study, cinnamon was found to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. However, it is important to note that this is a pilot study and additional research is needed to understand the full extent of cinnamon’s potential benefits on gestational diabetes.
There’s also a study that investigated the anti-apoptotic activity of cinnamon in diabetic rats during pregnancy. The results showed that cinnamon extract may have a protective effect on the organs of rat fetuses from diabetic mothers. Although this study is relevant, it should be taken with caution since it’s an animal study, and hasn’t been replicated in human yet.
That said, the research is encouraging. 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!
Can I Drink Cinnamon Tea While Pregnant?
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. We investigated this more thoroughly in our article on whether or not cinnamon can cause miscarriage.
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!
Is Cinnamon Safe When Trying to Conceive?
I’ve looked into the safety of cinnamon during pregnancy above, but here, I’ll specifically focus on its effects when trying to conceive. Cinnamon is known to have potential health benefits, including improving menstrual cyclicity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
However, it is advisable to avoid the excessive use of cinnamon supplements, as their effects on conception may not be well established. Thus, incorporating cinnamon into your diet while trying to conceive might be beneficial, as long as it is consumed in moderation, too. You can use some of the suggestions below to add a bit of cinnamon to your diet if you’re trying for a baby.
Some Cinnamon-Infused Recipe Ideas for Pregnancy
Want to incorporate cinnamon into your diet into a safe way during pregnancy? Here are ten easy ideas:
- Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl: A warm bowl of cooked quinoa, drizzled with almond milk, sprinkled with Ceylon cinnamon, topped with fresh berries, and a dollop of almond or peanut butter.
- Apple-Cinnamon Chia Pudding: Chia seeds soaked overnight in coconut milk with grated apple, Ceylon cinnamon, and a touch of honey.
- Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes: Diced sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil, sprinkled with Ceylon cinnamon, and roasted until crispy.
- Cinnamon-Infused Green Smoothie: A blend of spinach, avocado, green apple, Ceylon cinnamon, and coconut water.
- Spiced Cinnamon Lentil Soup: A savory soup made with lentils, tomatoes, onions, and a hint of Ceylon cinnamon for a warm twist.
- Cinnamon Almond Butter Dip: Mix almond butter with a dash of Ceylon cinnamon and honey. Perfect for dipping apple slices or celery sticks.
- Cinnamon Sprinkled Greek Yogurt Parfait: Layers of Greek yogurt, mixed nuts, fresh fruit, and a sprinkle of Ceylon cinnamon in each layer.
- Grilled Cinnamon Pineapple Slices: Fresh pineapple slices sprinkled with Ceylon cinnamon and grilled for a caramelized touch.
- Cinnamon Spiced Roasted Chickpeas: Chickpeas tossed in olive oil, Ceylon cinnamon, and a hint of cayenne pepper, then roasted for a crunchy snack.
- Cinnamon & Herb Roasted Chicken: Chicken seasoned with herbs and a touch of Ceylon cinnamon, roasted to perfection for a subtle sweet twist on a savory dish.