Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum and cinnamon cassia) is one of the commonly used spices in the world.
There are a number of bioactive compounds in cinnamon such as cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamate and cinnamic acid (1).
These compounds have been reported to have a number of health benefits, and it has long been used in traditional medicine to treat chronic diseases.
The effects of cinnamon on blood sugar levels
Reduces HbA1c & fasting blood sugar
A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of cinnamon supplementation on people diagnosed with metabolic syndrome was carried out for 16 weeks (2).
All the participants were encouraged to follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Half the participants were received 6 grams of cinnamon and the rest were given 6 grams of a placebo.
There was a reduction in HbA1c and fasting blood sugar in the cinnamon group compared to placebo by week 16. There was also a greater reduction in waist circumference and BMI compared to placebo. This may explain the greater reduction in blood sugar.
Lowers post-meal blood sugar
Another study looked at the effects of cinnamyl isobutyrate, which is one of the bioactive compounds in cinnamon, on blood sugar levels and calorie intake (3).
The supplementation group consumed a lower amount of calories during subsequent breakfast, which indicated a reduction in appetite. There was also a reduction in blood sugar after the meal.
Another study showed that 6 grams of cinnamon with rice pudding reduced the rise of blood sugar after carbohydrate intake compared to consuming rice pudding with a placebo.
There was a reduction in gastric emptying, which may explain the lower blood sugar level (4).
Additional health benefits
1) Reduces triglycerides
Cinnamon may also the risk of heart disease. A systematic review found strong evidence showing that cinnamon can lower blood triglyceride (fat) levels (5).
High blood triglycerides increase the risk of atherosclerosis which may lead to a heart event (6). Research suggests that cinnamon may reduce the absorption of fat.
2) Reduces blood pressure
A randomized control trial has taken place in the UK to examine the effects of 2 g of cinnamon on multiple markers of metabolic health in type II diabetes (7).
Not only was HbA1c reduced, but there were also reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
3) Protects against oxidative stress
Cinnamon is rich in antioxidant compounds (8). Antioxidants nullify free radicals, and this may protect against chronic disease. 1 g of cinnamon per day for 12 weeks has shown to reduce oxidative stress in type II diabetes (9).
4) May protect against Alzheimer’s disease
Cinnamon’s ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation may also help protect the brain from degeneration.
Test tube studies have shown that cinnamon can inhibit the accumulation of a called amyloid beta (10).
A high level of amyloid beta in the brain is thought to be the trigger of Alzheimer’s disease. However, human clinical trials are required to confirm this benefit.
To conclude, research has consistently demonstrated that 1-6 grams of cinnamon are able to regulate blood sugar and improve metabolic health in type II diabetics.