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Cinnamon may have more to offer than its trademark sweet aroma and flavor. Scientists know that cinnamon provides antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. And now some studies suggest it may have blood-glucose lowering effects for people with diabetes. However, the evidence that cinnamon is a foolproof diabetes treatment is still lacking.
CINNAMON AND BLOOD GLUCOSE
Cinnamon received a lot of media attention following a 2003 study published by the American Diabetes Association. The study found a significant reduction--between 18 percent and 29 percent--of mean fasting blood glucose in subjects with type 2 diabetes who supplemented with 1, 3, or 6 grams (g) of cinnamon every day over a 40-day period.
Later, a literature review published in 2007 by Pharmacotherapy examined a total of 164 patients with type 2 diabetes involved in clinical trials, and concluded that cinnamon has a possible modest effect in lowering glucose levels in patients with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes.
A more recently published randomized controlled trial in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine investigated the effects of cinnamon on 109 type 2 diabetes patients with elevated hemoglobin A1C (HgA1C, a measurement of blood glucose control over time.)
Researchers found that 1 g of cinnamon per day over a 90-day period, combined with usual care of medicine and follow-up with a doctor, lowered HgA1C by 0.83 percent, compared to usual care alone, which lowered HgA1C by 0.37 percent.
However, a meta-analysis published in the September/October 2013 issue of Annals of Family Medicine found that while cinnamon significantly lowered plasma blood glucose among people with type 2 diabetes, it had no effect on HgA1C.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Research on cinnamon's potential blood-glucose controlling effects appears to show conflicting results, though optimistic overall. There's not enough evidence to rely on cinnamon supplementation in place of the proven standards of care, which includes physical activity and dietary modifications, such as eating smaller portions and more frequent meals, as well as diabetes treatment medications. But, it certainly wouldn't hurt to incorporate cinnamon into your daily repertoire of healthy habits, especially if you have type 2 diabetes.
The lowest amount of cinnamon found to be effective in studies is 1 gram (g), which is equivalent to about 1D5 teaspoon (3 g is about ½ teaspoon, 6 g is about 1 teaspoon).
Incorporate cinnamon into your diet with the following ideas:
Breakfast: Sprinkle cinnamon into your morning hot cereal, whole grain pancakes, waffles, toast, or brewed coffee.
Lunch: Combine cinnamon with low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt and fruit, add to smoothies, or mix into muffins and breads.
Dinner: Add cinnamon to savory dishes and stews.
Dessert: Sprinkle the spice into fruit desserts such as cobblers, pies, pies, poached pears and baked apples.
(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.)