Why cinnamon is our favourite spice!

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Cinnamon has a wonderful flavour and has been used as a spice in cooking for many centuries. Since ancient times, cinnamon has also been highly valued for its health benefits, and research shows it has important anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties. Good evidence now shows cinnamon to be beneficial in glucose control, insulin resistance and weight management. Here we summarise some of the latest research on cinnamon, weight management and metabolic health. You can see why we included cinnamon in our name!




Cinnamon is an important culinary flavouring and used all around the world. The spice is formed from the inner skin of the Cinnamomum tree, a tree which belongs to the laurel family. Cinnamon has also long been treasured for its medicinal properties and as far back as Roman times it was used to treat digestive and respiratory ailments. Research has found that cinnamon has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties which is perhaps why many health benefits have been attributed to it over the years. (1).


There is now considerable interest in cinnamon as a supplement for weight loss and metabolic health, including supporting insulin resistance, diabetes and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and a lot of exciting research has been published on this topic in recent years, which we summarise below.


How Cinnamon can support Weight Loss and Metabolic Health


Cinnamon and weight loss


Cinnamon has recently been shown to have a positive impact on body weight and composition. Previously studies showed inconsistent findings, but the evidence is now much clearer and show that cinnamon can have real benefits for weight loss. Two systematic reviews and meta-analyses have recently been completed which assessed all the available studies. Such reviews are considered amongst the highest quality of research as they use a rigorous methodology to scrutinise previously undertaken studies. The reviews are summarised below:


Findings of reviews of cinnamon supplementation on body weight and composition


  1. Cinnamon supplementation on body weight and composition (2) – this review assessed 21 randomised controlled studies involving 1480 adults and found cinnamon supplementation to significantly reduce body weight and BMI. They also found supplementation reduced waist: height ratio, but waist circumference was not significantly reduced.

  2. Cinnamon supplementation and obesity (3) – this research reviewed 12 randomised controlled studies, involving 786 adult and found cinnamon supplementation significantly reduced body weight, BMI, waist circumference and fat mass. Weight loss reduction was greatest in those who were under 50 years of age with a baseline BMI of 30 or above. Best results were achieved with participants taking 2 grams of cinnamon/day or more for 12 weeks or longer.




Cinnamon and Metabolic Health, including Diabetes


Research has found cinnamon to be beneficial in Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes when used alongside other treatments. A meta-analysis of 16 randomised controlled trials found cinnamon significantly reduced fasting blood glucose and HOMA-IR, a measure of insulin resistance. (4).


Looking more broadly at metabolic health indicators, good evidence suggests that cinnamon improves a number of metabolic indicators, including measures of insulin resistance. Earlier this year a systematic review of 35 trials looking at the impact of cinnamon on those with metabolic diseases (5) found the following:


  • A significant reduction in triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose measures

  • A favourable impact on HDL cholesterol and blood pressure

  • Improvements were also found in HbA1c and measures of insulin resistance


The authors conclude that their findings:


‘Showed that cinnamon supplementation could have favourable effects on all risk factors associated with metabolic disease. Indeed, our results support beneficial effects of cinnamon supplementation on lipid profiles, glycaemic status markers, blood pressure parameters and waist circumference.’ (5)


Cinnamon and hypertension (high blood pressure)


Other research found cinnamon helpful in reducing raised blood pressure. A systematic review of nine randomised controlled studies involving 641 people found that supplementation with cinnamon resulted in significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. (6) The results were greatest with cinnamon supplementation up to 2 grams per day for periods longer than 12 weeks, and the authors concluded that cinnamon should be used to help manage hypertension.















Cinnamon and PCOS


PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) is an endocrine condition affecting up to 10% of young women, which affects fertility. It is recognised as a metabolic condition as it involves insulin resistance and excess circulating insulin. Research in animals and humans has previously shown cinnamon to decrease insulin resistance and several studies have shown that cinnamon can lower blood glucose levels. A number of good quality studies have been undertaken to assess the impact of cinnamon supplementation on PCOS and a recently published systematic review of five studies (7), concluded the following:


Findings of review of studies on cinnamon supplementation and PCOS (7)


  • Cinnamon supplementation significantly reduced measures of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and fasting blood glucose in women with PCOS

  • Cinnamon supplementation can be a safe and useful recommendation for improving insulin resistance and promotion of a healthy life


Why you should choose Ceylon or ‘True’ Cinnamon


Ceylon cinnamon is the best type of cinnamon to using as a spice or for supplementing. True cinnamon refers to the inner bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree, which is the Ceylon species of cinnamon. There are a number of other species, the other most common one being Cassia species (Cinnamomum aromaticum).


Whilst all types of cinnamon are considered safe, if you are supplementing we recommend you use Ceylon Cinnamon rather than Cassia Cinnamon as Cassia contains a natural flavouring called coumarin, which has blood thinning properties (8). So when supplementing, always choose Ceylon cinnamon which contains only trace amounts of coumarin.


Photo from Spice Council of Sri Lanka, showing cinnamon trees growing in Sri Lanka


Conclusion


Cinnamon is a wonderful spice which can be used to help make many delicious foods. However there is now plenty of evidence which suggests that as having powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties, cinnamon is beneficial in glucose control, insulin resistance and weight management. We recommend you include it in your diet !


References


1. Joerg Gruenwald , Janine Freder & Nicole Armbruester (2010) Cinnamon and Health, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 50:9, 822-834, DOI: 10.1080/10408390902773052


2. Yazdanpanah, Z, et al, (2020). Effects of cinnamon supplementation on body weight and composition in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials. Phytotherapy Research. 34: 448– 463. https://doi-org.apollo.worc.ac.uk/10.1002/ptr.6539


3. Mousavi, S.M et al, (2020) Cinnamon supplementation positively affects obesity: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials,Clinical Nutrition,Volume 39, Issue 1, Pp123-133,ISSN 0261-5614, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2019.02.017


4. Deyno, S et al, 2019 Efficacy and safety of cinnamon in type 2 diabetes mellitus and pre-diabetes patients: A meta-analysis and meta-regression,Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, vol. 156, 107815,ISSN 0168-8227,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.diabres.2019.107815.


5. Kutbi, EH, et al (2021): The beneficial effects of cinnamon among patients with metabolic diseases: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized-controlled trials, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2021.1896473


6. Mousavi,S.M. et al (2020) Anti-hypertensive effects of cinnamon supplementation in adults: A systematic review and dose-response Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 60:18, 3144-3154, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2019.1678012


7. Heshmati, J, Sepidarkish, M, Morvaridzadeh, M, et al. (2021).The effect of cinnamon supplementation on glycemic control in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Food Biochem; 45:e13543. https://doi-org.apollo.worc.ac.uk/10.1111/jfbc.13543


8. Wang,Y-H, et al,( 2013). Cassia Cinnamon as a Source of Coumarin in Cinnamon-Flavored Food and Food Supplements in the United States Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2013 61 (18), 4470-4476. DOI: 10.1021/jf4005862

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