You might have heard that cinnamon helps with weight loss but is it backed by science?
Most studies on cinnamon are conducted around the idea that cinnamon can help people with type 2 diabetes by lowering their blood glucose and keeping it under control.
Cinnamon is so effective in controlling blood glucose that you can beat the blood glucose test with 2 tsp of cinnamon 12 hours before the test.
The question remains: how effective is cinnamon for weight loss?
In this article, we are going to dive into the 2017 16-week study on the effects cinnamon has on obese individuals with metabolic syndrome.
What exactly is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is defined as a group of conditions that contributes to increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
These conditions are high cholesterol, high triglyceride, excess abdominal fat, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure. Having just one of these conditions does not mean you have metabolic syndrome but a combination of these conditions and you might just have an increased risk of diseases.
Even though the study’s objective was not to see if cinnamon can aid weight loss but lucky for us the subjects’ weights were recorded.
How was the study conducted?
The study was essentially designed as a health improvement program where participants were recommended to reduce calorie consumption, increase the intake of fruits and vegetables, and learn the importance of daily exercise while adding cinnamon in their diet.
Well, if the study was designed obese individuals to get healthier by reducing their caloric intake and move more, they are bound to lose weight. How can we know if the cinnamon capsules have any effects? This is where the magic of science comes in.
The experiment was a double-blind randomized placebo-control trial, this is the “gold standard” of scientific research. Neither the researchers nor the participants know who receives a placebo or real treatment. This means that the subjects were randomized into two groups where one of the groups will be taking 3 g of cinnamon capsules per day (1 g per meal), the other will be taking a placebo capsule (2.5 g of wheat flour), and both groups won’t know which capsule they are taking. The experimenter also won’t know what pills are given to which group. The 116 participants were all given the same advice and treatments except for the contents of the pills.
What happens to their weights after 16 weeks?
The group that was taking the cinnamon capsules (equivalent to 1 tsp of cinnamon a day) lost on average of 8 lbs compared to the placebo group that lost only 1 lb! Just by adding 1 gram of cinnamon to their meals 3 times a day, they lost 7 extra pounds! That’s a huge difference. 336 grams of the cinnamon total during the course of 16 weeks in exchange for 7 extra pounds? Now we’re talking!
The cinnamon group lost on average 1.5% body fat and 5.6 cm or around two inches off their waist compared to no body fat loss and 1 cm or around 0.5 inches in the placebo group.
What is the explanation behind this magical weight loss?
The explanation behind the difference in weight loss is inconclusive but may be credited to polyphenols contained in cinnamon. Polyphenols in cinnamon are proven to reduce fat mass gain and inflammation in fatty tissues in this study.
Cinnamon is also believed to improve insulin sensitivity in this study meaning that the body produces and uses insulin more effectively. Insulin is a fat-storage hormone meaning that more insulin equates to more fat! So an improvement in insulin sensitivity, insulin functioning as it should by transporting glucose into cells, will reduce the amount of fat that will be stored in the body.
This other research claims that our body responds to oils in cinnamon by increasing body temperature and metabolism. It is not conclusive but hopeful in fighting the obesity epidemic.
What about the metabolic syndromes?
You can see the drop in numbers all across the board for the cinnamon group. The placebo group even has some numbers go up! These numbers are just unbelievable. Just adding a common household spice into your meals you can drastically lower your risk of metabolic syndrome. However, this still does not take care of the underlying causes of these metabolic syndromes but is still a great addition to improve your health.
There are some limitations regarding this experiment and were recognized by authors. The authors stated that “Additionally, all the participants in our study were obese, we cannot generalize this result to the lean population. Finally, this research was conducted on a limited sample. To further substantiate the benefits of oral cinnamon, the research should be conducted on a larger sample.”
Even if your results might not be as dramatic as obese individuals, adding cinnamon to your meals is still a pretty good idea. The amount of antioxidant to get from cinnamon is one of the highest you can get per dollar spent. It is a cheap and great way to sweeten your meals while fighting those oxidants.
Can’t wait to spice up your meals? Not so fast!
There are four main types of cinnamon:
- Cassia (Chinese)
- Ceylon (True cinnamon)
Some types of cinnamon contain toxic compounds, coumarin. Even a tsp of cinnamon containing coumarin can be detrimental to our health. Overconsumption of coumarin is toxic to the liver and should be avoided.
The most common cinnamon found in grocery stores is Cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon originates in China and is a type that contains coumarin. Ceylon cinnamon or true cinnamon, on the other hand, does not contain coumarin and is safe for consumption. So we just have to switch to Ceylon instead, right?
Here’s the tricky part, most research on cinnamon is conducted with Cassia cinnamon so scientists put Ceylon cinnamon to the test whether it has the same blood sugar controlling properties as Cassia cinnamon and it turns out that it doesn’t. Ceylon cinnamon has all the same benefits as Cassia cinnamon except for the blood sugar control so scientists concluded that it is the toxic compound, coumarin, that is controlling the blood sugar. To reap the benefits without the risk of liver toxicity in adults, half a teaspoon of Cassia cinnamon may be consumed.
For those not looking to control their blood glucose and prefer to consume Ceylon cinnamon instead, Ceylon cinnamon still comes with a long list of benefits that you can enjoy: anti-microbial, anti-fungal, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-tumor, blood pressure-lowering, cholesterol, and lipid-lowering properties.
If the cinnamon’s country of origin is not listed on your product, it’s a good idea to contact the manufacturer to make sure that it’s the type that you are looking for.
What do you think about the astounding effects a pinch of cinnamon has on our health? I hope you enjoy the article and learn something new about cinnamon.
Cinnamon Fun Facts:
- 6.35 million Americans consumed 10 portions or more of cinnamon toast crunch cereal in 2019
- Cinnamon comes from the bark of several tree species from the Cinnamomum genus
- Cinnamon is often used in Chinese cooking as part of the five-spice powder
- 6% of Fair Trade certified herbs and spices imported into the United States is cinnamon
- The essential oil extracted from cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde, is used to flavor chewing gum, ice cream, and even perfumes