Cinnamon is a delectable spice and much more. It has a long history of therapeutic use. In ancient times cinnamon was even considered more precious than gold. Some cultures used it in meat preservation, recognizing its ability to stop bacterial growth. Besides its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, new research reveals that cinnamon is very effective in lowering blood sugar levels.
The effect of cinnamon on blood sugar levels was discovered by accident by USDA researchers in Maryland. While testing the effects of various foods on blood glucose levels, the researchers found out that the classic apple pie which is traditionally flavored with cinnamon paradoxically helped lower blood glucose levels instead of increasing it. Encouraged by these findings, further studies on cinnamon were done.
In a 2007 study conducted at Malmö University Hospital in Sweden, the effects of cinnamon on gastric emptying rate and blood sugar levels in healthy subjects were revealed. Researchers measured how quickly the stomach emptied after 14 volunteers ate 300 grams of rice pudding alone or seasoned with 6 grams of cinnamon. The cinnamon appeared to slow down stomach emptying and blood glucose levels were notably lower in those who ate the pudding with the added cinnamon.
In another study in Pakistan, researchers demonstrated the effects of cinnamon on patients with type 2 diabetes. Subjects with type 2 diabetes were given cinnamon supplements in different dosages: one, three or six grams per day. Within weeks the results revealed that that cinnamon supplementation considerably reduced the level of blood glucose and cholesterol levels in subjects as compared to the placebo group. This led to the conclusion that cinnamon is beneficial in the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes as well as reducing the risk factors associated with diabetes including the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Another double-blind study conducted by French researchers in 2009 revealed that in the case of overweight people with impaired fasting glucose, cinnamon supplementation could reduce the risk factors associated with diabetes. Cinnamon also helps to improve the diabetic patients’ ability to respond to insulin and normalize their blood glucose levels. By helping reduce insulin resistance, cinnamon can also aid in weight loss.
More studies are under way to show the powerful effect of cinnamon on blood sugar. In the meantime, go ahead sprinkle some of this aromatic spice on your toast, porridge, stir fries, hot cocoa or simply drink it as a nice warming tea!
Wellness Naturopathic Centre, North Vancouver, BC
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