Super foods, the ultimate health foods – Cinnamon

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Thursday, 26 February 2009.
Tagged: healthy cooking, healthy eating, nutrition, sugar substitutes

Super foods, the ultimate health foods – Cinnamon

If you have room for only one spice in your kitchen, cinnamon is it! I love it for its aroma and flavour, but now research has revealed that small amounts of cinnamon taken each day can lower blood sugar levels for those with diabetes. It boosts the flavour of any dish from stewed apples to chai tea to Moroccan tagines without having to use extra sugar or fat.

 Cinnamon for blood sugar control

Researchers from Pakistan took 60 men and women with type 2 diabetes and supplemented their diets with 1, 3 or 6 grams of cinnamon a day. Over the 40 days of the study, blood sugar levels dropped on average 20 per cent compared to those in the control group who were given a placebo (a similar-looking powder without any cinnamon).

Half a teaspoon a day may keep the doctor away!

The amount of cinnamon found to be effective was around half a teaspoon (3 grams) a day. Surprisingly, levels stayed low 20 days after cinnamon intake was stopped and blood triglycerides and cholesterol also showed a decrease. But note that the cinnamon was packed into a small capsule and swallowed by the participants which is easy to do each and every day. It's a different story if you're trying to get to this 3g a day intake from the spice cinnamon itself - you need to consume a lot!

A 2012 Cochrane review of 10 well-designed randomised studies of 577 patients couldn't come to any solid conclusion. It found there was insufficient evidence to support the use of cinnamon for type 2 diabetes. But as I point out, cinnamon makes your food taste delicious, helps you reduce unwanted sugar so it can't hurt either!

Enjoy your cinnamon

So you can be generous with the cinnamon in your desserts such as creamy rice, baked custard, apple crumble, apple strudel and stewed pears. Cinnamon is not the only spice with such good news. Other spices like cloves and nutmeg may well turn out to have similar benefits.

Already we know that most spices are extremely rich in nutrients such as beta-carotene, certain B vitamins and natural antioxidants but in the tiny amounts used in cooking, they are not usually significant sources of nutrition.cinnamon

Easy ways to enjoy more cinnamon

  • Sprinkle cinnamon over your breakfast porridge - be generous, you'll need a lot to bump up your intake significantly
  • Mix cinnamon with caster sugar and sprinkle over hot toast to make cinnamon toast
  • Top vanilla ice cream or plain yoghurt with lots of cinnamon for a quick dessert
  • Pop a cinnamon stick (quill) into your next cup of tea or coffee to give it a new flavour


Nutrition stats

Cinnamon has negligible counts of protein, fat, carbohydrate, fibre or kilojoules (Calories).

 


 

Cinnamon in the news headlines ...

Cinnamon lowers fasting blood glucose
A water-soluble extract of cinnamon improved antioxidant variables - by as much as 13 to 23 percent - and improvement in antioxidant status was correlated with decreases in fasting glucose. This suggests that the antioxidative compounds in cinnamon could help reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease, according to a study led by US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Read more.