Q. Is it true that cinnamon helps reduce blood sugar?
A. Indeed, some research suggests that spicing up your diet with cinnamon may improve blood-glucose levels. In a 2003 study of 60 men and women with type 2 diabetes published in Diabetes Care, consuming as little as 1 gram (approximately 1/2 teaspoon) of cinnamon daily, for 40 days, was associated with significantly lowered (up to 29 percent lower) blood-glucose levels. Cinnamon intake also was linked with reduced levels of blood triglycerides, total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Exactly how cinnamon may improve blood glucose and blood cholesterol isn’t known; however, researchers believe that components in cinnamon may improve the sensitivity of the receptors for insulin, a hormone that causes glucose to move out of the blood into tissues of the body where it’s needed as fuel. Cinnamon also contains antioxidants that neutralize tissue-damaging free radicals in the body. That said, it’s important to take this sweet news with, well, a grain of salt. A 2006 study in the Journal of Nutrition reported that consuming a daily dose of cinnamon equal to the amount that appeared effective in lowering glucose in the Diabetes Care study did not seem to improve glucose or cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. More research is needed to determine whether supplementing foods with cinnamon truly improves blood-glucose levels. In the meantime, spicing things up a bit can’t hurt and besides, cinnamon is delicious. Stir hot tea or coffee with a cinnamon stick; add a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to a bowl of warm oatmeal. And remember: following an overall healthy diet and exercising regularly are the most effective things you can do to keep glucose levels in healthy range.