This Spice Manages Your Blood Sugar

A new study by Richard Anderson, PhD at the US Department of Agriculture has found that cinnamon may help reduce risk factors that are associated with both heart disease and diabetes.

For this study, 22 obese subjects were recruited, all of whom had what’s called “impaired blood glucose values”. That means their blood sugar wasn’t well controlled, a condition often called “prediabetes”.

When blood sugar levels are too high, the body produces an abundance of insulin, also known as the “fat-storage hormone” or “the hunger hormone”. The cells become “resistant” to this excess insulin, basically ignoring it while it “knocks” on the cell “doors” trying to get in so it can dump that extra sugar. You wind up with high blood sugar and high insulin, a condition known as “insulin resistance”.

While it’s possible to have this kind of condition and not be overweight, it’s pretty rare. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, most people with insulin resistance (“prediabetes”) develop full blown type ll diabetes within ten years unless they lose 5-7% of their body weight. People with this condition are also much more at risk for developing cardiovascular disease.

In the present study, the volunteers were randomly divided into two groups. One group got a placebo (an inert substance) while the other got 250mg of a water-soluble cinnamon extract which they took twice a day in addition to their usual diet. The researchers collected blood after an overnight fast right at the beginning of the study, then again after six weeks and once again after 12 weeks. They were looking for changes in either blood glucose (sugar), antioxidant levels, or both.

The results? Those who took the cinnamon extract improved their antioxidant levels by between 13 and 23 percent.

That part’s not surprising, as cinnamon contains a number of antioxidants. The surprising finding of the study was that this improvement in antioxidant status was accompanied by improvements in fasting blood sugar.

Earlier studies- also by Anderson and his team- showed that cinnamon was effective in reducing not only blood sugar, but also triglycerides and total cholesterol in people with type ll diabetes.

(You can read more about cinnamon and its health benefits in my book, “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth“)