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Cinnamon is a common spice that has been used as a culinary seasoning and herbal medicine for centuries. Made out of the richly fragrant bark of many varieties of cinnamon trees, its spicy-sweet flavour makes it an extensively used ingredient in dishes, beverages and desserts. Although pregnant women can eat foods that have cinnamon as a flavouring ingredient, most doctors recommend against the use of its supplements during pregnancy.
Is Cinnamon Safe during Pregnancy?
Cinnamon can be safely consumed during pregnancy when had in normal food amounts as a flavouring or a seasoning agent. It has benefits as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, blood sugar regulator and a natural flavouring agent. Although cinnamon has numerous health benefits, it also has dangerous side effects when consumed in higher amounts. Since it lowers blood glucose levels and prevents blood clot, pregnant women who are on medication for diabetes and blood thinners must be extra careful, especially around a surgery. Cinnamon also stimulates menstrual flow, and large amounts can trigger a miscarriage. So if you are wondering is cinnamon good for pregnancy; the answer is yes and no depending on how much you take. The good qualities cinnamon otherwise has can turn harmful when you’re pregnant. Avoiding supplements and cinnamon-laden foods is a good idea. It’s also better for women with high-risk pregnancies to avoid cinnamon altogether.
Health Benefits of Cinnamon for Pregnant Women
Some of the health benefits include:
1. It is a Natural Antioxidant
Cinnamon is among the most valued herbs as it rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols (3,4,5). Antioxidants fight free radical damage to the body and promote good health. It also plays a role in fighting off infections caused by fungus, bacteria and parasites.
2. For Gestational Diabetes
Cinnamon bark contains active ingredients which can regulate blood sugar levels. When it is consumed in low amounts with food, it can control blood sugar levels naturally in women who have gestational diabetes. However, its role in pre-diabetic and diabetic treatments needs further research.
3. Natural Flavouring Agent
Cinnamon comes in multiple tastes and aroma which makes it an excellent substitute for artificial flavouring agents in food preparations. Some of the types include:
- Chinese Cinnamon: Also called Indian spice, it has a sharp taste and aroma
- Ceylon Cinnamon: Originates from Ceylon, Brazil, India and Indonesia. It is sweet spice and gives a burning taste and has a gentle fragrant accent.
- Malabar Cinnamon: Has a sharp but slightly bitter taste
4. It has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Anti-inflammatory agents found in a certain variety of cinnamon such as Cassia is known to counteract enzymes that lead to inflammation in the body. When taken with food, this can ease joint pains and swell in the body to give relief.
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
Regular consumption of cinnamon in food is shown to keep a check on systolic blood pressure, thus good for preventing High blood pressure in pregnant women. It lowers the risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy which is caused by high blood pressure. It can be avoided by a diet involving cinnamon.
6. Nutritional Benefits
Cinnamon has plenty of carbohydrates and saturated fatty acids. It is rich in vitamins C and E along with niacin. Especially of higher content are choline, pyridoxine and pantothenic acid. It also consists of trace minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, iron, manganese and zinc.
How Much Cinnamon is Safe when Pregnant?
There are no studies that have established a safe amount of cinnamon for consumption during pregnancy. General studies involving normal adults put the dosage around 1 to 1.5 grams of cinnamon bark a day. Healthy adults can tolerate that much without side effects.
Since not many studies have evaluated the safety of cinnamon during pregnancy, most of the known risks remain theoretical based on what is known about some of its ingredients. The concern rises as fetuses do not possess a well-developed detoxification system to remove harmful substances; they are sensitive to toxins in food and medicine.
How Can You Use Cinnamon?
It is not advisable for pregnant women to take cinnamon in large quantities on a daily basis. A pinch of the spice or less than half a teaspoon is acceptable regularly. Cinnamon can be used in cooking for a rich flavour in dishes such a pulao and biryani. Its presence in pastries, pies and other bakery products is small enough to be harmless to the foetus. Cinnamon tea in pregnancy is also okay once in a while as long as it is had sparingly. Cinnamon also contains essential oils that can be dangerous to the foetus and can even cause miscarriages. Therefore it is advisable to put off aromatherapy that uses essential oils of cinnamon during pregnancy.
Precautions to Take while Having Cinnamon?
- Do not use cinnamon if you have an intolerance toward it or have obstetric problems
- Ceylon types of cinnamon are recommended for cooking for its mild flavour
- Avoid consuming poor quality or time elapsed spices
- In high-risk pregnancies and risk of miscarriage, it should be avoided entirely
- Beauty recipes involving cinnamon should be replaced with other constituents as essential oils of cinnamon is considered harmful during pregnancy
Side-Effects of Cinnamon in Pregnancy
For those wondering if cinnamon and pregnancy can go together, here are some side effects to look out for:
- Too much cinnamon can disrupt glucose regulation during pregnancy. It has been observed that taking 1 to 6 grams of it every day can reduce the average fasting serum glucose levels in those with diabetes in less than 40 days. It can spell trouble for women having a cesarean section as it can cause problems with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Even if you plan to have a normal delivery, it may be of concern in case you end up with complications that need emergency surgery.
- If you are on blood thinners, cinnamon can raise the risk of bleeding. In the event that you need to undergo emergency surgery or have a caesarean section during delivery, cinnamon in the system increases your risk of bleeding. If you’re on blood thinners such as antiplatelet agents or anticoagulants, cinnamon can lower the platelet count. Therefore doctors suggest avoiding cinnamon a few weeks prior to any surgery.
- If you are on any regular medication, cinnamon may interfere with it and cause complications. As observed in the case of certain medication for diabetes, cinnamon interferes with the proper function of the drug. Since there are no known drugs listed on this front, consult your doctor before using it during pregnancy.
- Cinnamon allergy is the most common of all the spice allergies in people. As pregnancy makes you sensitive towards certain foods, look for signs such as a burning sensation in the mouth or inflammation in the tongue, inside of cheeks or the throat.
- Of primary concern with cinnamon are it’s abortifacient effects. In large amounts, such as in supplementary form, cinnamon can cause miscarriages. Ayurveda also suggests limiting its use during pregnancy.
When taken in normal food amounts, cinnamon can be safely had by women who have a healthy pregnancy.
Also Read: Eating Ginger during Pregnancy