Also Helps Cholesterol — But More Than A Sprinkle Required

WebMD.com, by Jeanie Lerche Davis  —  Several years ago a study showed that cinnamon can improve glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood. For people with type 2 diabetes, and those fighting high cholesterol, it’s important information.

Researchers have long speculated that foods, especially spices, could help treat diabetes. In lab studies, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, and turmeric have all shown promise in enhancing insulin’s action, writes researcher Alam Khan, PhD, with the NWFP Agricultural University in Peshawar, Pakistan. His study appears in the December issue of Diabetes Care.

Botanicals such as cinnamon can improve glucose metabolism and the overall condition of individuals with diabetes — improving cholesterol metabolism, removing artery-damaging free radicals from the blood, and improving function of small blood vessels, he explains. Onions, garlic, Korean ginseng, and flaxseed have the same effect.

In fact, studies with rabbits and rats show that fenugreek, curry, mustard seeds, and coriander have cholesterol-improving effects.

But this is the first study to actually pin down the effects of cinnamon, writes Kahn. Studies have shown that cinnamon extracts can increase glucose metabolism, triggering insulin release — which also affects cholesterol metabolism. Researchers speculated that cinnamon might improve both cholesterol and glucose. And it did!

The 60 men and women in Khan’s study had a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes for an average of 6 1-2 years but were not yet taking insulin. The participants in his study had been on antidiabetic drugs that cause an increase in the release of insulin. Each took either wheat-flour placebo capsules or 500 milligram cinnamon capsules.

  • Group 1 took 1 gram (two capsules equaling about one-quarter of a teaspoon) for 20 days.
  • Group 2 took 3 grams (six capsules, equaling a little less than one teaspoon) for 20 days.
  • Group 3 took 6 grams (12 capsules, equaling about one and three-quarters teaspoons) for 20 days.

Blood samples were taken at each level of the study.

Cinnamon made a difference! Twenty days after the cinnamon was stopped, there were significant reductions in blood glucose levels in all three groups that took cinnamon, ranging from 18 to 29%. But these was one peculiar finding that researchers don’t understand at this point. Only the group that consumed the lowest level of cinnamon continued with significantly improved glucose levels — group 1. The placebo groups didn’t get any significant differences.

Taking more cinnamon seems to improve the blood levels of fats called triglycerides. All the patients had better triglyceride levels in their 40-day tests — between 23% to 30% reductions. Those taking the most cinnamon had the best levels.

In groups taking cinnamon pills, blood cholesterol levels also went down, ranging from 13% to 26%; LDL cholesterol also known as “bad” cholesterol went down by 10% to 24% in only the 3- and 6-gram groups after 40 days. Effects on HDL (“good cholesterol”) were minor.

Cinnamon should be part of our daily diet — whether we have type 2 diabetes or not, writes Kahn. However, for the best effects, just a sprinkle isn’t enough.

 

                      and from www.consumerreports.org

 

Consuming about one-half teaspoon of cinnamon a day for 40 days reduced blood levels of both glucose and triglycerides, a potentially artery-clogging fat, by about 25 percent in adults with type 2 diabetes, a USDA clinical trial found. Cinnamon also cut “bad” LDL cholesterol by nearly 20 percent. And the benefits persisted for up to three weeks after people stopped taking it.

http://blogs.consumerreports.org/health/2008/11/cinnamon-diabet.html

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