The Hot Water, Honey and Cinnamon Diet

There are lots of variations of the honey diet. Some focus on consumption of honey and lemon, while others recommend the ingestion of cinnamon and honey. Although cinnamon and honey are both healthy foods, a diet rich in these ingredients only is unlikely to be healthy or help you lose weight.

Honey and cinnamon are both healthy parts of a diet. Credit: Worapojfoto/iStock/GettyImages

Read more: 12 Tips to Succeed at Your Weight Loss Resolutions

Cinnamon and Honey Nutrition Facts

Cinnamon and honey are considered healthy foods. However, neither of these foods is typically consumed on its own. Cinnamon is mainly integrated into dishes as a flavoring, while honey is most commonly used as a natural sweetener.

According to the USDA, a tablespoon (8 grams) of ground cinnamon has just 19 calories, most of which come from carbohydrates. However, although there are 6.3 grams of carbohydrates in each tablespoon, 4.1 grams come from dietary fiber.

Spices like cinnamon typically aren't associated with nutrients, but each tablespoon also contains 6 percent of the daily value (DV) for calcium and 59 percent of the DV for manganese. A tablespoon of cinnamon also contains trace amounts (between 1 and 4 percent) of a variety of other nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K and B-complex vitamins, as well as iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper and even protein.

A tablespoon (21 grams) of honey has 64 calories, which mainly come from 17.3 grams of carbohydrates. Honey is basically entirely sugar (17.2 grams). While it lacks micronutrients, honey is known to be rich in beneficial bioactive compounds like flavonoids and phenolic acids.

Cinnamon and Honey Diet Benefits

According to an April 2014 review in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine and an April 2019 review in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cinnamon has a variety of benefits beyond its nutrition.

Cinnamon's benefits include:

  • Antimicrobial and antifungal effects
  • Anti-tumor effects
  • Antioxidant effects
  • Reducing high blood pressure
  • Reducing triglyceride levels
  • Reducing total cholesterol
  • Improving glycemic control in patients with diabetes and prediabetes
  • Helping modulate the immune system
  • Protecting the gastrointestinal tract

Honey also has a variety of health benefits, and many of them overlap with cinnamon's benefits. A September 2018 article in the Molecules journal reported that honey has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects. It also can help reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics and protect the cardiovascular, nervous, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. The majority of these benefits are attributed to the antioxidants in honey.

While cinnamon and honey may both have a range of positive effects on your health, few studies have shown that they can support weight loss. However, a very small 12-person study reported in an April 2016 publication of the European Journal of Nutrition showed that daily consumption of kanuka honey mixed with cinnamon, chromium and magnesium was able to help diabetics lose weight.

Given these limited results, it's unlikely that the hot water, cinnamon and honey diet will be able to help you lose weight. However, incorporating cinnamon and honey into your diet in moderation won't be bad for your health.

Read more: 15 Tips From Real People Who Succeeded at Losing Weight

Downsides of the Honey Diet

People who consume hot water, cinnamon and honey as part of a weight-loss diet tend to create tea-like drinks with between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of both ingredients. This means that you'd be consuming as much as 83 calories and 23.6 grams of carbohydrates per drink.

While cinnamon and honey can both be easily incorporated into your diet, drinking them in this form means that you're really just consuming empty calories. It also means you're incorporating a lot of unnecessary added sugars into your diet. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that people consume less than 10 percent of their daily calories (about 200 calories) from added sugars.

Honey is a healthier sweetener than many other added sugars, so you might certainly experience health benefits if you're using this diet to obtain your sweet-tooth fix and avoid sugar-rich processed or junk foods. Replacing granulated sugar with honey instead when cooking can also benefit your health.

However, if you're consuming sugary foods and sweetened beverages, and adding honey to your diet as well, chances are you're ingesting too many added sugars each day. The Mayo Clinic states that excessive sugar consumption can cause increased triglyceride levels and tooth decay, while increasing the likelihood of gaining weight.

Read more: 15 Foods That Help You Peel Off the Pounds

Cinnamon Side Effects and Dangers

When consumed in excess, cinnamon has side effects too. Cinnamon contains a phytochemical called coumarin. In small amounts, coumarin is thought to have health benefits, but in large amounts, coumarin can act as a liver toxin and even a carcinogen.

The amount of coumarin in cinnamon varies, depending on the form it's in. Cinnamon sticks that you might use in tea have more coumarin than ground cinnamon. However, the biggest determining factor of coumarin content is the type of cinnamon you're using. Ceylon cinnamon has about 190 milligrams per kilogram of cinnamon, while cassia cinnamon's coumarin content can range from 700 to 12,230 milligrams per kilogram.

The European Food Safety Authority lists the tolerable daily intake for coumarin as 0.1 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American man weighs 197.8 pounds (89.7 kilograms) and the average American woman weighs 170.5 pounds (77.3 kilograms). This means that most men shouldn't consume more than 8.9 milligrams of coumarin per day, while women shouldn't consume more than 7.7 milligrams daily.

It's surprisingly easy to ingest a large amount of coumarin if you're consuming products with cinnamon in them. According to a February 2010 study in the Molecular Nutrition and Food Research Journal, cinnamon tea is one of the most coumarin-rich products you can consume.

Based on the researchers' calculations, an 8-ounce (236 milliliter) cup of cinnamon tea has an average amount of 54.7 milligrams of coumarin but can have as much as 217.2 milligrams of coumarin per cup. An April 2014 study in the journal Food Control supported these findings, showing that half of Danish baked goods with cinnamon as an ingredient exceeded the recommended limits for coumarin too.

If you're keen on following a cinnamon and honey diet, you should be cautious about the amount of coumarin you ingest. Use only Ceylon cinnamon when possible, especially if you're consuming products like cinnamon tea on a daily basis.

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