Cinnamon Regulates Blood Sugar Levels

Cinnamon is an extremely effective natural remedy. It can lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and as a warming spice, it boosts metabolism, which can be helpful when trying to lose weight. Cinnamon is also very rich in phytochemicals, so it can be used to prevent cancer.

Cinnamon regulates blood sugar levels

Cinnamon is an extremely effective natural remedy. It can lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and as a warming spice, it boosts metabolism, which can be helpful when trying to lose weight. Cinnamon is also very rich in phytochemicals, so it can be used to prevent cancer.

But not all cinnamon is the same – there are two types: Ceylon cinnamon from the Ceylon cinnamon tree and cassia cinnamon from the cinnamon cassia. Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum Verum) – also known as real cinnamon – is mainly cultivated in Sri Lanka. Ceylon cinnamon is more aromatic than cassia cinnamon and is considered the finest variety of cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) originally comes from China and is the most widely sold in the world. It tastes a little stronger and slightly sweet.

For most people, cinnamon is nothing more than a spice for cappuccino, rice pudding, and gingerbread. But of course, it’s not the cinnamon’s fault if its actual capabilities have simply been forgotten and it’s only used as a flavoring ingredient for one or the other treat.

Cinnamon – once more valuable than gold

In reality, however, cinnamon plays in the very first league of natural remedies. Once thought to be more valuable than gold, cinnamon was used to embalm Egyptian nobles and, mixed with cloves and water, placed in medieval sickrooms to ward off the bubonic plague. Internally and externally, cinnamon was administered against almost everything – from athlete’s foot to gastrointestinal infections.

That all sounds pretty adventurous. However, scientific studies have long since confirmed the antimicrobial effect of cinnamon, so nobody should be surprised why cinnamon was used successfully for all of the problems mentioned in the past – whether for bacterial infections of the digestive system or as a foot powder for fungal infections. Speaking of foot powder: Cinnamon – in shoes or sprinkled on feet – takes away any smell of sweat.

Cinnamon regulates blood sugar levels

However, the most well-known and fascinating property of cinnamon is its blood-sugar-lowering effect. The discovery of this special effect of cinnamon is said to have happened as follows: Scientists once wanted to test the influence of different foods on blood sugar levels. There was also an apple strudel with lots of cinnamon.

Of course, the researchers were sure that the sweet strudel would raise blood sugar levels significantly. But the blood sugar level didn’t rise as dramatically as it did after a cinnamon-free strudel. Another study was immediately carried out, which focused on cinnamon. The result of the study was published in the specialist journal Diabetes Care back in 2003 and was more than amazing:

The Study: Cinnamon in Diabetes

60 test candidates who had been treated for their type 2 diabetes for years took part. They didn’t have to inject insulin yet, but they did take medication to boost their insulin secretion.

The subjects were divided into six groups. Group 1 received two 500 mg cinnamon capsules daily (i.e. a total of 1 g cinnamon), Group 2 took six cinnamon capsules (3 g), and group 3 even 12 cinnamon capsules (6 g). Groups 4, 5, and 6 represented the corresponding placebo groups. The capsules were taken immediately after meals. Group 1 took one capsule after breakfast and one after dinner. Groups 2 and 3 took three times a third of their daily dose after each main meal. The participants continued to eat normally and also stayed on their prescribed medication.

After 20 days of cinnamon intake, only the 6 g group showed a significantly lower blood sugar level. However, after 40 days, the blood sugar levels in the other two groups had also fallen – just as nicely (by 18 to 29 percent) as in the 6g group.

This means that the blood sugar-regulating effect of cinnamon is not dose-dependent and begins with a daily dose of 1 gram of cinnamon per day, just not after 20 days as with 6 grams, but only after 40 days. In the placebo groups, on the other hand, everything stayed the same. No changes in blood sugar levels could be observed.

However, cinnamon not only reduced the test subjects’ blood sugar levels but conveniently also lowered their LDL blood cholesterol levels as well as their triglyceride levels – by 10 to 24 percent (cholesterol) and 23 to 30 percent (triglycerides). Ideally, however, the levels of “good” HDL cholesterol were not reduced.

Even 20 days after the cinnamon treatment had long since ended, the patients could still observe the positive effects of the cinnamon itself. What was particularly interesting was that the long-term effects were most pronounced in those patients who had previously taken the lowest dose of cinnamon, again suggesting that two cinnamon pods per day (1g of cinnamon) is quite sufficient.

Another study published in 2007 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that one of the reasons cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels is probably because it can delay gastric emptying so that the body is not suddenly flooded with large amounts of blood sugar, but instead, the glucose gradually enters the blood.

Of course, given the millions of people who suffer from insulin resistance (aka prediabetes) or metabolic syndrome, these study results are wonderful. Because everything that cinnamon did in that study – lowering blood sugar levels and improving cholesterol levels – can not only alleviate prediabetes, just like metabolic syndrome but actually reverse them.

Lose weight with cinnamon?

However, the metabolic syndrome also includes being clearly overweight. Can cinnamon also help with weight loss?

High blood sugar levels are always initially accompanied by high insulin levels. Because the body wants to lower the blood sugar level. So the pancreas secretes a lot of insulin. Normally, the insulin would now transport the blood sugar out of the blood and into the body’s cells. The cells would be supplied with sufficient energy and the blood would be cleared of sugar again.

However, since the cells only react very weakly to insulin in the case of insulin resistance (prediabetes) or metabolic syndrome, the blood sugar level remains elevated. However, this signals the pancreas to release more and more insulin – in the hope that the blood sugar level will eventually drop again. Consequently, with insulin resistance, not only the blood sugar level is usually elevated, but also the insulin level.

However, the fat cells in the abdominal area are particularly sensitive to high insulin levels. And since a high insulin level signals to the fat cells that there is a lot of sugar and thus a lot of energy in circulation, they see no reason at all to break down fat. Insulin, therefore, inhibits fat breakdown, and – as long as there is a lot of insulin circulating in the body – the fat cells do not release a few of their fat reserves. This makes weight loss almost impossible.

Cinnamon promotes fat loss

However, if measures are now taken to lower the blood sugar level – e.g. B. a healthy diet in combination with cinnamon – then there is of course no reason for the insulin level to rise excessively. However, a low insulin level means that the fat cells give up their fat reserves and the body fat percentage decreases.

The reducing effect on insulin levels has also been shown in a study. Here, test subjects were given 3 grams of cinnamon daily.

Cinnamon is also considered a warming spice that leads to a certain heat build-up in the body. Heat production (thermogenesis) now of course consumes more energy and thus also calories. Both properties – the warming effect and the blood sugar level regulating effect – make cinnamon a very good component of successful weight management.

Sniffing cinnamon gets the brain going

By the way, you don’t even have to eat cinnamon to enjoy its beneficial effects. Its wonderful scent alone can give your brain a boost as it can improve your cognitive performance. At least that’s what Phillip Zoladz, a student at the American Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, found.

Zoladz worked on his diploma thesis, which dealt with i.a. to the influence of the sense of smell on human brain power when he noticed that special scents had an extremely positive effect here.

The participants in his study had to complete certain tasks while chewing cinnamon gum or inhaling cinnamon essential oil. In comparison to those subjects who received neutral chewing gum or breathed neutral air, a clear trend emerged, namely that the cinnamon group was able to solve the tasks with better results than the neutral group.

In the cinnamon group, arguments were more quick-witted and solutions to problems were found more quickly. The cinnamon group also performed better on judgment, memory, and concentration.

It’s no wonder that cinnamon is also said to be able to specifically combat Alzheimer’s since it – at least in vitro – is said to block the formation of unfavorable deposits in the brain and even help to break them down. The corresponding American study by scientists from the University of California was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2009.

Encouraged by Zoladz’s study, further research is planned to see how and if cinnamon could be used to boost mental abilities in older people, including those who are prone to anxiety.

Zoladz himself commented on his study results with the words:

Finding a non-pharmaceutical method that can increase cognitive performance in humans would be groundbreaking and would certainly find a high level of acceptance among the population.

Coumarin in Cassia Cinnamon

If you suffer from any of the above problems, then you should include cinnamon in your meals more frequently, ideally daily, and in measured amounts (1/2 – 1 tsp).

However, studies have now found that cassia cinnamon contains coumarin – a substance that is said to lead to liver and kidney damage in high quantities. As a result, warnings about cinnamon suddenly circulated in the media, and the pleasant feeling of drinking cinnamon tea and snacking on cinnamon stars often gave way to a certain uneasiness. Yes, it was even specifically recommended not to give children more than 4 cinnamon stars or 1 gingerbread per day.

Unfortunately, the all-clear in the media (usually in small print on the last page) does not receive nearly the same attention as the previously triggered alarm on page one. Because we now know that liver and kidney damage only occurs in very few people after excessive consumption of coumarin – and only in people who already had damaged organs. This is known because coumarin was once prescribed in isolated form as a drug for certain vein disorders and the side effects described occurred in some of the patients.

There are therefore limited values ​​for coumarin. They are 0.1 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This means that you can consume 0.1 milligrams of coumarin per kilogram of body weight daily for a lifetime without having to worry about any damage to your health. For example, if you weigh 70 kilograms, your personal safe coumarin limit would be 7 milligrams.

If we now assume that cinnamon has a coumarin content of 0 to a maximum of 0.45 percent, then with the recommended one gram of cinnamon you take a maximum of 4.5 milligrams of coumarin and are, therefore – even if you only weigh 50 kilograms – below the limit.

However, the following should be considered when setting the limit value: The discussion about possibly harmful coumarin actually dates back to the 1980s. Up until that time, synthetic coumarin could be mixed into foods and beverages as a flavoring without limit. However, this is very different from the natural coumarin in cinnamon.

However, we would also advise against more than 4 cinnamon stars or 1 gingerbread a day – not because of the cinnamon, but because of all the other ingredients that are actually unhealthy in the long term: sugar, white flour, fats, glazes, synthetic food additives, etc.

In healthy recipes, on the other hand, you can enjoy cinnamon very well, especially when you learn that the “bad” coumarin and thus also the cassia cinnamon can have an anti-cancer effect.

Cinnamon for Cancer

We would like to briefly present two studies devoted to the anti-tumor activity of cinnamon: In 2010, Indian scientists showed that an aqueous cinnamon extract made from cassia cinnamon can initiate the cell death of cervical cancer cells. They found cinnamon to be a potent way to prevent cervical cancer. In contrast, German researchers from the Regensburg Institute for Pharmacy established in the 1990s using a rodent model that pure coumarin caused some prostate cancer tumors to shrink and, in daily doses of 40 mg, was able to significantly reduce the number of lung metastases by 40 to 50 percent.

Healthy Cinnamon Ideas

After all this good news about cinnamon, the only thing left to do is look out for recipes that not only make the daily enjoyment of cinnamon enjoyable but also healthy. After all, you don’t exactly want to combine healthy cinnamon with cakes, biscuits, and sugary desserts. For example, you can add some cinnamon to tea, cocoa (preferably from plant-based milk), almond milk, or soy or grain milk.

Cinnamon aroma even tastes extraordinarily fine with freshly squeezed fruit juices. Cinnamon also goes very well with unsweetened applesauce, compote, or – even better – over fruit salads. Likewise, muesli or millet porridge (warm with sultanas and a little butter) can be sprinkled with cinnamon.

Store cinnamon properly

Do you still have old-fashioned cinnamon in your spice cupboard? Then only use it if it smells strongly of cinnamon when you open the package or the jar. If the aroma is only weak and the cinnamon tastes slightly bitter, then it is better to throw it away and get fresh cinnamon, as only aromatic cinnamon really works and brings the desired results. Store the cinnamon tightly closed, dry, and dark.

Cinnamon in capsules

Consuming sufficient amounts of cinnamon on a daily basis is not always easy. As an alternative, you can take cinnamon in capsules.

Homemade cinnamon oil can also help you reach your daily dose of cinnamon.

Of course, you should ask your holistically oriented therapist in advance – especially if you are taking medication for diabetes or cholesterol-lowering drugs – whether the cinnamon measure is recommended in your case. If your therapist agrees, he will check your blood sugar and cholesterol levels a little more closely from now on so that he can reduce the amount of medication in good time as soon as the cinnamon starts to take effect.

During pregnancy, cinnamon should only be used in small amounts as a spice and not specifically in the form of dietary supplements, as the essential oils contained in cinnamon could promote labor.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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