What Is Cinnamaldehyde?

What Is Cinnamaldehyde?

Learn more about this phytochemical, how you can get it, and what it can do for you.

You’ve probably heard of phytonutrients like beta-carotene, but have you ever heard of cinnamaldehyde? Don’t know what phytonutrients are? Read this article!

Cinnamaldehyde contributes to the flavor and odor of certain plants and plant foods, mainly cinnamon.[1] Cinnamaldehyde occurs naturally in the bark of cinnamon trees and other species of the genus Cinnamomum like camphor and cassia.[2] Many products such as cereal, chewing gum, and chocolate use this compound as a preservative or for flavor. Cinnamaldehyde is also used to disinfect tomatoes to prevent spoilage and prolong shelf life.[3]  It can be made synthetically but can also be made from the steam distillation of cinnamon bark oil.[4] As always, it is best to get the phytonutrient from the plant foods that contain it.

Nutrients—vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals—can often be isolated or synthetic. These don’t even come close to natural nutrients in their whole food state; they are not the same. Read our helpful resource about how they are different and why natural nutrients, as opposed to isolated or synthetic, are safer and much more beneficial. We believe in the synergistic effect of all phytonutrients. “The science of nutrition is largely about the art of a relationship,” says Deanna Minich, scientist and nutritionist. “It’s not about one food, one nutrient, one calorie, but their relationship to each other.”[5] This applies to phytochemicals too!


Cinnamon is a spice that has many uses. In ancient times, it was used as perfume in anointing oils, beds, and embalming. Today, it is mostly used as an ingredient in cooking or baking.[6] 

According to Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, cinnamon is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory,antimicrobial, and lipid-lowering compound.[7] All this is mainly due to the phytonutrients it contains.[8] 

Reactive Oxygen Species

An in vitro study showed that cinnamaldehyde reduced reactive oxygen species, inhibited pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion from monocytes/macrophages, and showed potential of immunomodulation.[9]  

Reactive oxygen species are unstable molecules containing oxygen that react with other molecules within cells. They damage DNA, RNA, proteins, and cells. They are also called free radicals or oxygen radicals.[10]  Cytokines are small proteins secreted by cells that affect cell communication. Some are pro-inflammatory, and some are anti-inflammatory. Most of these are secreted by macrophages, others by monocytes and nonimmune cells: fibroblasts, endothelial cells, etc. [11] [12]

The Last Bite

Cinnamaldehyde is responsible for the flavor and scent of cinnamon; for this reason, it is often used as an ingredient in various food products. However, it is best to get the phytonutrient by eating the plant foods that contain it, such as cinnamon. Cinnamon and other species of Cinnamomum contain the highest amounts of cinnamaldehyde and come with many health benefits. Cinnamon can be used in baking, drinks, etc. You can also get some cinnamon by taking Balance of Nature’s Fiber & Spice! 

[1] Rajani Katta, “The Rosacea Diet: Foods to Avoid,” Skin and Diet, accessed August 19, 2020, https://www.skinanddiet.com/diet-and-rosacea.

[2] “Cinnamaldehyde,” PubChem (U.S. National Library of Medicine), accessed August 19, 2020, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Cinnamaldehyde.

[3] Smid, E.J., L. Hendriks, H.A.M. Boerrigter, and L.G.M. Gorris. “Surface Disinfection of Tomatoes Using the Natural Plant Compound Trans-Cinnamaldehyde.” ScienceDirect . (Postharvest Biology and Technology, January 5, 1998). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0925521496000336.

[4] Paul M Burnham, “CINNAMALDEHYDE,” Cinnamaldehyde - The Smell and Flavour of Cinnamon, 2006, http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/cinnamaldehyde/cinnh.htm.

[5] Deanna Minich, Instagram, August 2020, https://www.instagram.com/p/CDxqhwBlmNi/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link.

[6] Paul M Burnham, “CINNAMALDEHYDE,” Cinnamaldehyde - The Smell and Flavour of Cinnamon, 2006, http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/cinnamaldehyde/cinnh.htm.

[7] Pasupuleti Visweswara Rao and Siew Hua Gan, “Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant,” ed. Mohammad Amjad Kamal, Hindawi (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, April 10, 2014), https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2014/642942/.

[8] Dimas Rahadian Aji Muhammad and Koen Dewettinck, “Cinnamon and Its Derivatives as Potential Ingredient in Functional Food-A Review,” Taylor & Francis Online (International Journal of Food Properties, 2017), https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2017.1369102.

[9] Louis Kuoping Chao et al., “Cinnamaldehyde Inhibits pro-Inflammatory Cytokines Secretion from Monocytes/Macrophages through Suppression of Intracellular Signaling,” Science Direct (Food and Chemical Toxicology, January 1, 2008), https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278691507002797.

[10] “Reactive Oxygen Species,” National Cancer Institute (the National Institutes of Health), accessed August 19, 2020, https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/reactive-oxygen-species.

[11] Jun-Ming Zhang and Jianxiong An, “Cytokines, Inflammation, and Pain,” U.S. National Library of Medicine (International Anesthesiology Clinics, November 30, 2009), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2785020/.

[12] “What Is an Inflammation?,” U.S. National Library of Medicine (InformedHealth.org [Internet]., February 22, 2018), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279298/.