Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) now afflicts more than 16 million Americans. Another 20+ million have prediabetes and most will go on to develop diabetes within the next 10 years. People with type 2 DM need to control both their blood sugar and their cholesterol. Failure to keep blood sugar levels down leads to neuropathy, blindness, kidney failure and amputations.
Failure to control cholesterol levels leads to heart attacks. Losing excess weight with a healthful diet and exercise can prevent and even reverse type 2 DM.
A recent double-blind study1 demonstrated that 1-6 grams of cinnamon daily markedly improved blood lipids and significantly lowered blood sugar levels of subjects with type 2 DM. On average, blood sugar levels dropped from 18% to 29% in those receiving cinnamon. Serum triglyceride levels dropped from 23% to 30% and the “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol levels dropped from 7% to 27% in the three groups receiving cinnamon. By contrast, the subjects who took look-alike placebo capsules showed no significant changes in either blood lipids or blood sugar levels after 40 days. The lead researcher, Dr. Richard Anderson at the Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Md., called these findings “the most significant nutritional discovery I’ve seen in 25 years.” Other researchers are in the process of isolating the phytochemicals in cinnamon that are responsible for these effects.
Bottom Line: This was a small study with only 60 subjects and it lasted only 40 days. There is a need to see these results confirmed in larger studies and we need long-term studies to establish that these improvements continue as long as cinnamon is a regular part of the diet. For now there is no reason not to encourage those with type 2 DM and prediabetes to consume about 1/2 to one teaspoon of ground cinnamon daily. Cinnamon may also help improve blood lipids in those without diabetes, but we need more research to confirm this.
By James Kenney,
PhD, RD, LD, FACN.
1. Diabetes Care 2003:26;3215-18
Stephanie Ronco has been editing in a professional capacity for the past 10 years. In addition to her work as an editor, Ronco has also served as a ghostwriter and writing tutor. A voracious reader, Ronco loves watching language evolve and change. When she’s not delving into her latest project, Ronco can be found teaching acting classes, performing in community theater, or sailing with her husband.