NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a common spice in many food pantries, but did you know cinnamon can do more than just sweeten your breakfast?

It also has some major health benefits.

From weight loss to lowering cholesterol levels, cinnamon can do wonders for you body. Just sprinkle a little in your coffee or on your oatmeal and wait for the magic to work.

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Nutritionist Lauren Slayton says cinnamon can help you stay fuller longer.

“It actually slows the rate of digestion, so that your food is taking more time to process and your appetite is lower and then you eat less,” Slayton said.

It also curbs sugar cravings by helping control blood sugar levels and adding natural sweetness.

“So it’s very useful when you have high blood sugar or maybe borderline going on diabetes medications,” Slayton said.

One study showed that in just over a month, cinnamon, when taken daily, lowered total cholesterol and LDL — which is bad cholesterol, up to 25 percent, Slayton said.

And with flu season in full swing, cinnamon could be an added defense.

“It’s what’s known technically as an anti-microbial, which means whether it’s bacteria, or yeast, it tends to have an effect of wiping those out,” Slayton said.

But before you run out to the store, be aware that some cinnamon is better than others.

“The cinnamon you actually see most often is cassia cinnamon,” Slayton said. “It’s a cheaper form of cinnamon.”

And that cinnamon could be harmful in high does, with a potential risk for liver toxicity and kidney toxicity issues.

Slayton suggests a better option would be ceylon cinnamon.

Also — don’t overindulge. A recommended dose is one teaspoon a day. And if you’re using supplements, don’t exceed five grams a day.

Slayton also says if you don’t remember the last time you bought your cinnamon or any of your spices, it’s time to toss them. Over time, spices can lose their potency and flavor.

 

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