Final Word on Cinnamon?
Scores of people with diabetes swear that cinnamon helps moderate their blood glucose, and they religiously sprinkle the spice on their oatmeal every morning. Many studies have shown positive effects — on blood sugar, insulin response, blood pressure, and even cholesterol — in people with diabetes. Cinnamon has potent anti-inflammatory properties, too, and is also one of the spices found to fight off bacteria in food, such as e.coli.
The research, however, has been inconclusive because not all studies show these benefits and the groups studied are usually very small. One meta-analysis, published in 2008, looked at five randomized, controlled studies, and found no benefit.
In the five trials, a total of 282 people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, were given either a placebo or varying doses of cinnamon, ranging from 1 to 6 grams, for a period of 3 months. In the report, published in Diabetes Care, lead author William L. Baker writes: "Cinnamon does not appear to improve A1C, [fasting blood glucose], or [cholesterol] in patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes." However, in a 2011 review, the authors concluded that while study findings are contradictory on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and after-meal blood glucose levels, "the only parameter consistently improved by cinnamon consumption is fasting glucose levels." Go figure. The bottom line: If you like cinnamon, use it regularly. It will probably improve your health.
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Baker, W.L., G. Gutierrez-Williams, C.M. White, J. Kluger, C.I. Coleman. 2008. Effect of Cinnamon on Glucose Control and Lipid Parameters. Diabetes Care 31: 41–43.
Reviewed by Susan Weiner, R.D., M.S., C.D.E., C.D.N. 10/08
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