New research links this spice-cabinet fave with big health benefits.

Karla Walsh; Reviewed by Victoria Seaver, M.S., R.D.
July 23, 2020
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A spoonful of sugar might help the medicine go down (well, at least according to Mary Poppins), but more and more research is mounting that a pinch of cinnamon might just be the Rx itself.

According to a just-released 12-week study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society involving 51 prediabetic participants, those who were given a 500-milligram cinnamon capsule three times per day (about equal to ⅓ teaspoon) had lower fasting glucose levels and smaller blood sugar spikes after eating meals with carbs than their placebo-dosed counterparts. With almost 11% of Americans currently diagnosed as having diabetes, and even more with prediabetes—meaning they have chronically elevated blood sugar levels that may lead to type 2 diabetes if not controlled—findings like this are vital as doctors search for natural ways to try to tame the diabetes epidemic.

This is not the first time cinnamon has been touted for its blood sugar-beneficial qualities. Nearly 20 years ago, American Diabetes Association scientists reported that cinnamon may improve blood glucose and cholesterol levels among people with type 2 diabetes. But research remains mixed: A 2013 Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine study reported that taking 2 grams of cinnamon per day for two months had no effect on the blood glucose of subjects already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

While this new study adds to the stacks that promote cinnamon as a simple way to potentially help control blood sugar, it's important to remember that those concerned about blood sugar levels or who have prediabetes or diabetes should consult with a dietitian and their doctor. Since there's no "cure" for diabetes, it's vital to control the symptoms—including high blood sugar—so as a team, you can create the best comprehensive treatment plan to prevent complications and increase the chances of a long, healthy life.

While the jury is still out about cinnamon capsules, if you like the flavor, it certainly can't hurt to add cinnamon to your diet in moderation, especially in low-sugar recipes such as Spice-Rubbed Grilled Whole Chicken, Cinnamon-Toasted Oats and Cinnamon Microwave Popcorn. As you design your meal plan with your RD and prep your shopping list, this complete list of foods to eat when you have diabetes might come in handy, too. (And is so delicious, no spoonful of sugar is required!)