A Spoonful of Cinnamon Helps Treat Diabetes
By Alison McCook
Last Updated: 2003-12-11 15:35:10 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People with diabetes can help keep their bodies healthy by simply adding a dash of spice to their diet, new research reports.
In a study, diabetics who incorporated one gram -- equivalent to less than one-quarter teaspoon -- of cinnamon per day for 40 days into their normal diets experienced a decrease in levels of blood sugar, cholesterol and blood fats.
And for people with diabetes, the less of those substances in the body, the better.
Type 2 diabetes arises when the body loses sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that shuttles the sugars from food into body cells to be used for energy. As a result, the amount of sugar, or glucose, in the blood remains high, leading to fatigue and blurred vision. Over the long term, excess blood glucose can increase the risk of heart disease, kidney failure and blindness.
The current findings suggest that a small amount of cinnamon can help protect diabetics from these and other potential complications of their condition, study author Dr. Richard A. Anderson of the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland told Reuters Health.
Diabetics could add a dash of cinnamon to their morning servings of coffee, orange juice or cereal, Anderson noted. "You can also make a cinnamon tea by simply boiling water with stick cinnamon," he suggested.
Anderson noted that cinnamon may also help stave off the onset of Type 2 diabetes in people at risk of the condition.
He added that cinnamon contains some substances that can be toxic in high amounts, so people should be sure not to get too much of a good thing. "Certainly, a gram per day is not a high amount," he reassured.
During the study, Anderson and his colleagues asked 60 people with Type 2 diabetes to consume 1, 3, or 6 grams of cinnamon each day for 40 days, or the equivalent amount of wheat flour, as a placebo. Both the cinnamon and wheat flour were administered in capsule form.
Reporting in the journal Diabetes Care, Anderson and his team found that all cinnamon-takers experienced a drop in blood levels of glucose, fats and cholesterol by up to 30 percent. No change was seen in the people taking placebo capsules.
Anderson explained that cinnamon contains compounds that help make insulin more efficient, improving the hormone's ability to bring glucose to the cells that need it.
As an added bonus, cinnamon contains virtually no calories, Anderson said, allowing diabetics to add zest to their meals without adding to their waistlines.
Cinnamon contains less than 3 calories per gram, "negligible in the total dietary intake," Anderson said.
Previous research has shown that cinnamon appears to help fat cells recognize and respond to insulin. In test tube and in animal studies, the spice increased glucose metabolism by about 20 times.