Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cinnamon’s Potential for Diabetes Control

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.
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The science on 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 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.

Cinnamon’s bottom line. Research on cinnamon’s potential blood-glucose controlling effects appears to show conflicting results, though optimistic overall. There is 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 1⁄5 teaspoon (3 g is about ½ teaspoon, 6 g is about 1 teaspoon).

Spice It Up with Cinnamon
Incorporate cinnamon into your daily diet with the following ideas.
Sprinkle cinnamon into your morning hot cereal, whole grain pancakes, waffles, toast, or brewed coffee
Combine cinnamon with low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt and fruit, add to smoothies, or mix into muffins and breads

Incorporate cinnamon into savory dishes and stews

Add to fruit desserts, such as cobblers, pies, poached pears, and baked apples

This article was written by McKenzie for the February 2014 issue of Environmental Nutrition.

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