Can Cinnamon Lower Your Blood Sugar?

Jamie Sukroo - 8 Jun 2021

Can Cinnamon Lower Your Blood Sugar?

You may have read before that cinnamon can lower your blood sugar when consumed with meals containing carbohydrates. In this blog we explore this topic in more detail.

Scientific Studies on the Benefits of Cinnamon

Research into the effects of cinnamon have focussed on several chemical compounds that may have different, and perhaps complementary, effects.

  • Methyl hydroxychalcone polymer, or MHCP seems to mimic insulin, giving it an assist in blunting blood sugar spikes by stimulating glucose oxidation (absorbed into cells from the blood and used as energy). MCHP seems to work synergistically with insulin.
  • Other studies hint that additional compounds in cinnamon besides MHCP (phenolic acids), may also increase insulin receptor signaling (meaning insulin does it’s job better and doesn’t need to pump out yet more).
  • Cinnamon may also seems to slow digestion, helping to further reduce blood glucose levels. This study of 14 healthy subjects found that six grams of cinnamon, mixed in with a meal of 300 grams of rice pudding, delayed the movement of food out of the stomach and into the small intestine (where glucose is absorbed). It also reduced post-meal blood sugar levels from 30 minutes until at least two hours after eating. A later study—which looked at nine subjects who took three grams of cinnamon—found that these effects did not carry over to high-fat meals (versus the high-carb meal in the aforementioned study).
  • Animal studies found that cinnamaldehyde (compound that gives cinnamon its distinct flavour and odour), is increases insulin sensitivity, and improves the ability of cells to absorb glucose. Cinnamon bark extract may also lower post-meal blood glucose by inhibiting certain intestinal and pancreatic enzymes, slowing the rate of carbohydrate digestion.
  • A study of 60 people with Type 2 diabetes found that cinnamon also reduced triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol, all risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.

4 Ways to Incorporate Cinnamon Into Your Diet

Most of the existing research has found effects at cinnamon doses between one and six grams.

Here are 4 ways to incorporate cinnamon into your diet:

  • Add 1-2 teaspoons to a smoothie
  • Put it in your coffee. Here are tips for incorporating cinnamon into your coffee. And here’s a recipe for a cinnamon coconut latte made with cinnamon and slow-digesting fat (found in the coconut milk).
  • Make your own Chinese Five Spice which includes cinnamon. It’s great for stir fries and is a great addition to veggie or tofu dishes. If you eat meat, add cinnamon to your rub.
  • Finally – If you’re not a fan of the taste, taking cinnamon supplements might be a viable option.

Final Comments

  • Avoid eating cinnamon by itself, as the experience will be, at best, unpleasant, and at worst, life-threatening, as its fine texture can present a choking hazard.
  • All cinnamon contains a compound called coumarin—much higher in cassia than Ceylon cinnamon. Coumarin can cause liver damage and tumors in animals at high doses. The risk to humans is primarily in people with existing liver damage, and even then when ingesting far higher amounts than you would typically get in your diet.
  • Coumarin is also a natural blood thinner, so you may want to avoid it if you’re already taking blood thinners, such as warfarin or statins.
  • It’s best to start small and build up to larger amounts gradually. You may find that too much cinnamon irritates your digestive system, or you could have an allergy that doesn’t present itself in lower quantities. That allergy, though rare, could lead to uncomfortable symptomssuch as swelling, burning, itchiness of the mouth, or mouth sores.
  • It’s also unknown whether taking extra cinnamon has any side effects during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so it may be best to err on the side of caution.
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