Fatty Liver Foods & Diet

Is Cinnamon Safe to Eat if You Have Fatty Liver / NAFLD?

Cinnamon is considered to be not only tasty, but also extremely healthy. Ask anyone around and they will say that, without doubt, cinnamon is healthy. But is it indeed so and most important: is cinnamon safe to eat if you have a fatty liver?

Soon after being diagnosed with NAFLD, I introduced cinnamon – and in large quantities – in my diet. I knew that it helps our bodies a lot by reducing inflammation, reducing insulin resistance and lowering blood sugar levels among many other things, so it was an obvious choice.

But soon after, I stumbled upon an article that claimed that cinnamon was actually… toxic and it was doing a lot of harm to our bodies, especially potential damage to the liver!

I was shocked and I had to find out more about this, so please read on to find out if it is indeed safe or a good idea to eat cinnamon if you have a fatty liver (or even for general health, in the end).

Ceylon cinnamon vs Cassia cinnamon

The short answer, after doing more research (about which I will talk more in depth in this article), would be that regular cinnamon is not healthy. Fortunately, the longer answer sounds a lot better and cinnamon is indeed healthy and has all the benefits that we know it has… as long as you pick the good one and ignore the bad cinnamon.

Because there are apparently two types: the Cassia cinnamon (which is what we usually find in stores, restaurants and everywhere – which is cheap but not healthy) and the Ceylon cinnamon, the “real” cinnamon, the healthy one, but the more expensive one.

The difference between the two is obvious, as you can see in the image below:

1 is the real Ceylon cinnamon, 2 is the regular, cassia cinnamon
1 is the real Ceylon cinnamon, 2 is the regular, cassia cinnamon

Why is cassia cinnamon bad and Ceylon cinnamon good?

The regular cinnamon (cassia) is cheap and based mostly on this reason, it is the one that you normally find in stores and also the one used in restaurants and the food industry.

It has a strong flavor – and we actually consider it the “real” flavor, even though the better option is the Ceylon cinnamon, which has a lighter taste and is less bitter.

However, it’s not taste that should be considered to be the main difference between the two types. The main problem of the Cassia Cinnamon is that it has a higher concentration of Coumarin which, if consumed in large quantities, can cause liver damage in some sensitive people. And since we are suffering already from NAFLD, we might be in that “sensitive” category.

(If you want some authority sources on the toxicity of Coumarin, you can read all the details in this Medical News Today article or on Wikipedia)

But even without going into details, the regular cinnamon powder coming from the Cassia type (which is normally found in stores) has up to 63 times more coumarin compared to Ceylon cinnamon powder (source here). That’s a lot, especially since we’re talking about something that causes liver damage!

“True” cinnamon is easy to identify. Plus, it will most likely be labelled as “Ceylon” cinnamon.

So should you stop eating cinnamon if you have a fatty liver?

Definitely not!

You actually have two options: first and easiest thing to do is to continue consuming the regular cinnamon, but in much lower quantities.

According to a study available on the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (here), the tolerable daily intake for coumarin is 0.05 mg per pound (or 0.1 mg per kg) of body weight. So as long as you are under this amount, you should consider to be on the safe side.

Putting the numbers above in practice, for a person that weighs 70 kg (155 pounds), the safe amount would be 7 mg of coumarin. However, since a fatty liver is already with problems, I would go even safer and consider a maximum of 3.5mg in this case (so half the amount for a healthy person).

But even better in my opinion is switching to eating the more expensive Ceylon Cinnamon, which only contains traces of coumarin. In other words, if you use it, you can consume much larger quantities without any health risks!

To make things even healthier, go for Organic Ceylon cinnamon and make sure you only purchase it from sources you can trust. I get mine on Amazon, like the 1 Pound bag of organic Ceylon Cinnamon from Frontier (affiliate link) or, if you want a larger quantity, the Naturevibe Botanicals Pack (affiliate link).

Health benefits of cinnamon

Both types of cinnamon – Cassia and Ceylon – are considered to have major health benefits, including for those who suffer from a fatty liver. So the general knowledge that “cinnamon is healthy” is not wrong – it’s just it usually doesn’t take the potential bad effects of the Cassia type into consideration.

But in terms of health benefits, we have a lot of good stuff here, including the fact that it reduces the blood sugar levels, it has anti-inflammatory properties and is also packed with antioxidants.

It is also considered to reduce the risks of heart disease, have beneficial effects on neurodegenerative diseases and even improve sensitivity to insulin. (Source: Healthline)

So all things considered, cinnamon is safe to eat if you have a fatty liver, but only if you have in mind the potential negative effects that regular cinnamon can have.

Even though the Ceylon cinnamon is more expensive, remember that it’s your life and health that you’re talking about and it might be worth spending a bit more on that – especially since we’re talking about actual medical studies that confirm this.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this very informative article. It made me think of something I’d read several months ago about Turmeric and how it can be bad for the liver. I was drinking “Golden Milk” (almond milk, local honey, turmeric, ground black pepper) once a day for 3 years, believing it was good for my body. When I was diagnosed with NAFLD, a friend said it was probably the turmeric. Now, I am concerned about cinnamon, for most certainly, what cinnamon I do consume is of the cheaper quality. Thank you again for all you do to keep us informed.
    Debbie in Gatlinburg, TN

    1. We’re always learning new things, Debbie. I had no idea either about this until after being diagnosed with a fatty liver and doing a lot of research. And now I’m off to research turmeric as well because i also knew it was good 🙂

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