One of the best ways to spice up a dessert or meal is to add a dash of cinnamon, but cinnamon’s not only useful for pepping up banana bread or oatmeal. When taken as a supplement, cinnamon can have a beneficial impact on blood sugar, as cinnamon supplements have been shown to help lower blood sugar, according to several studies.
Having high blood sugar can drastically impact people who have been diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and it can result in damage to the nerves, blood vessels, and organs. High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, can be caused by a multitude of reasons including stress, other illness, a lack of exercise, eating too many carbohydrates, or forgetting to take insulin.
It’s especially important for people who have been diagnosed with diabetes to keep track of their blood sugar levels, as maintaining ideal blood sugar levels helps to prevent more serious health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease and vision problems.
As part of a study in Diabetes Care, 30 participants with type 2 diabetes took cinnamon supplements for 40 days, while 30 other participants with type 2 diabetes took a placebo. At the end of the study, all of the participants that took cinnamon supplements showed lower levels of blood sugar, while those taking the placebo saw no change.
Cinnamon, and other spices including cloves and bay leaves, have also shown “insulin-enhancing activity in vitro.” The study also shows that participants who consumed cinnamon for 40 days all saw a reduction in serum glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol. It concludes by suggesting that adding cinnamon to your diet will help to “reduce risk factors associated with diabetes,” as well as cardiovascular disease risk factors.
A different study from Istanbul Medipol University Institute of Health Sciences found similar results, that regular consumption of three to six grams of cinnamon a day positively impacts blood sugar levels, and the survey recommends the regular consumption of cinnamon or cinnamon supplements.
In addition to helping to lower blood sugar, cinnamon has also been shown to lower levels of oxidative stress, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, as well as many other conditions, according to a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
While cinnamon supplements certainly have their benefits, it’s important to note that the supplements alone won’t help to lower blood sugar or prevent diabetes, and they do not take the place of a healthy diet and regular exercise.
The supplements also do not take the place of diabetes medication for anyone diagnosed with diabetes, as the American Diabetes Association recommends against using cinnamon supplements in place of diabetes medication, though the organization says that cinnamon is a healthy alternative to sugar as a flavorful topping for many dishes.