Saving calories can often be accomplished with a little creativity. For example, swapping the cream and sugar (roughly an ounce or 2 tablespoons) with a teaspoon of cinnamon could save up to 70 calories per cup-o-Joe. Looks like this special spice may change the standard coffee routine.
Spice Up Your Life—The Takeaway
One study found just half a teaspoon of cinnamon per day can significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan MM. Diabetes care, 2004, Jul.;26(12):0149-5992. But for those who don't have to worry so seriously about insulin levels, cinnamon has also been shown to have many other benefits:
- Cinnamon can slow the speed at which the stomach empties following a meal, which can help control sharp rises and falls in blood sugar levels. Effects of 1 and 3 g cinnamon on gastric emptying, satiety, and postprandial blood glucose, insulin, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, glucagon-like peptide 1, and ghrelin concentrations in healthy subjects. Hlebowicz J, Hlebowicz A, Lindstedt S. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2009, Jan.;89(3):1938-3207. Softening these sugar spikes can theoretically reduce cravings. Effects of 1 and 3 g cinnamon on gastric emptying, satiety, and postprandial blood glucose, insulin, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, glucagon-like peptide 1, and ghrelin concentrations in healthy subjects. Hlebowicz J, Hlebowicz A, Lindstedt S. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2009, Jan.;89(3):1938-3207.
- Cinnamon can enhance the way antioxidants from other foods help the body defend itself, strengthening the immune system. Antioxidant effects of a cinnamon extract in people with impaired fasting glucose that are overweight or obese. Roussel AM, Hininger I, Benaraba R. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2009, Sep.;28(1):1541-1087.
- Additional suggested health benefits include relieving congestion, reducing stiffness in muscles and joints, counteracting inflammation, supporting digestive health, and even boosting brain function. This super spice has also been shown to stimulate good circulation with its blood-thinning properties. Glycated haemoglobin and blood pressure-lowering effect of cinnamon in multi-ethnic Type 2 diabetic patients in the UK: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Akilen R, Tsiami A, Devendra D. Diabetic medicine : a journal of the British Diabetic Association, 2011, Mar.;27(10):1464-5491.
Want another reason to sprinkle some cinnamon in coffee? That other coffee sweetener—sugar—has been linked to weight gain, diabetes, and may even be "toxic." Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. Schulze MB, Manson JE, Ludwig DS. JAMA, 2004, Aug.;292(8):1538-3598. Just another reason for cinnamon and coffee to band together!
Still, there are some reasons to be wary. Many of the studies on the subject were conducted on mice, not humans, so it's unclear how well their benefits carry over. And while it might be nice to try something new in that morning cup of coffee, a teaspoon of cinnamon doesn't exactly taste the same as cream and sugar. Some may like it more, and others less, but this (quite picky) Greatist taste-tester and coffee-lover actually enjoyed mixing it up a bit. With no sugar and a pinch of spice, my cup of coffee was still everything nice.
Replace cream and sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon in coffee to save 70+ calories per cup and add a potential metabolism boost.
Originally published December 2011. Updated March 2016.