Can Cinnamon Help Control Blood Sugar?

Whether it’s a heavenly slice of apple pie, warm cinnamon rolls, or a mug of hot chocolate, there’s no doubt that cinnamon and sugar go wonderfully well together. So it may come as a surprise to many of us that cinnamon can actually help control our blood sugar levels.

Cinnamon Sticks

Rising sea levels or temperatures aren’t the only things keeping many of us awake at night. Over 80 million Americans – that’s every fourth person – are struggling with rising fasting blood-glucose levels. This is over and above the 25 million Americans already diagnosed with diabetes. While spices have traditionally played a role in healing, cinnamon has emerged as a simple but effective solution for controlling sugar levels and keeping diabetes at bay.

The bark of the cinnamon tree is the source of the cinnamon sticks and powder found in the market. Researchers have isolated a compound in the bark called methyl hydroxy chalcone polymers (MHCP). This element has been shown to increase insulin-dependent glucose metabolism by over 20 times in vitro.1 MHCP has a two-fold action. It activates the enzyme that helps insulin to stick to the cells, while also suppressing the enzyme that blocks insulin from cell bonding. That’s a double dose of goodness, leading to greater insulin sensitivity in the body. As a result, the body responds well to insulin and is able to process glucose better, thus keeping blood sugar levels under control. And the lower the sugar level, the further you move away from diabetes.2

With or Without Sugar

It also turns out this heady spice has mildly curative properties when it comes to diabetes. That is to say, it works to keep those with elevated sugar levels

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(prediabetics) from crossing over and can even help control diabetes. A meta-analysis of various studies showed that the Cinnamomum spp. bark lowers the fasting blood glucose levels in both type 2 diabetics and prediabetics, with an average reduction of 3 to 5 percent.3 Another study, in which cinnamon was administered in varying amounts to participants for 40 days, found an 18–29% drop in mean fasting serum glucose.4

Ancient Wisdom

Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda have always endorsed the goodness of cinnamon. TCM relies on several single-herb prescriptions for type 2 diabetes and cinnamon figures prominently in this list.5 Many Ayurvedic

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formulations also incorporate cinnamon for its bioactivity and positive effects on sugar and cholesterol levels.6

What To Sprinkle

Cinnamon is found in two types: Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume) and Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromaticum Ness). These are dried, rolled into tubes known as quills, and made available either as whole quills or cinnamon sticks or as ground powder. The Portuguese were the first to discover the richness of Ceylon cinnamon and took it to many parts of the world. To this day, the best quality cinnamon, the Ceylon variety, comes from Sri Lanka. The Cassia cinnamon, though more widely available and cheaper, has one downside – higher coumarin content. This plant compound is an anticoagulant and can even damage the liver when used in large quantities.7 So, if you’re a big fan of cinnamon and use it a lot, get

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hold of the Ceylon variety.

About a teaspoon of cinnamon, sprinkled over your cereal, coffee, or salads, can keep you on the right side of the diabetes border. And it tastes great too, so what’s not to love!

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