Cinnamon is a hot topic in many discussions regarding diabetes. There have been studies that show how cinnamon can lower blood sugars, HbA1c (an average of blood
sugar over the previous 2-3 months), cholesterol, triglycerides (a type of fat
in the blood), and can help reduce inflammation. While the results on taking cinnamon
for diabetes diets are still mixed, there are some promising results.
Cinnamon is a spice made from tree bark. There are two main
varieties: Ceylon cinnamon, “true cinnamon,” and Cassia cinnamon which is often
found in spice jars and supplements. Cassia is lower in cost so if the label
doesn’t specify which type it is most likely the Cassia variety. Both types of
cinnamon have shown blood sugar and lipid lowering properties.
One study found that 1,000 mg of cinnamon capsules (or about
½ tsp cinnamon spice) every morning for nine weeks in addition to a diabetic
diet decreased fasting blood sugar by 19.5% compared to 0.7% in those who only
made diet changes in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. Results were seen within
one week of starting cinnamon intake until plateauing at week nine.
In another study, 30 people with type 2 diabetes were split
into three groups taking 1 gram, 3 grams or 6 grams of cinnamon daily. Thirty
additional people took a placebo. After 40 days, everyone taking cinnamon had
lower glucose, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
These studies sound promising and have encouraged many
diabetics to start adding cinnamon to their diabetic care. However, there has
also been numerous studies which have found no benefit at all.
Currently the American Diabetes Association doesn’t
recommend relying on cinnamon as a way to reduce blood glucose levels as
results from studies have been conflicting and there is not enough strong evidence
at this time. Supplements also are not regulated by the FDA, so safety is of concern
The best way to add cinnamon to your diet is to sprinkle it on
your foods, cook with it, or enjoy a glass of cinnamon tea. The recommended
amount for benefits is ½-1 teaspoon per day. Food in its whole form is always
Cinnamon gives food natural sweetness and provides nice
flavor without the addition of added sugar, fat, or salt. Cinnamon is very
versatile, commonly found in sweet but also savory foods. Some easy and
delicious ways to add cinnamon to your diet include:
Top hot cereals, such as oatmeal or porridge
Add to beverages, such as smoothies and coffee drinks
Stir into yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, or stewed fruits
Add to marinades
Sprinkle on sweet potatoes, carrots, or baked squash
Mix into baked goods, such as muffins, pancakes, and breads
If you decide to add a cinnamon supplement to your diabetic
or general health plan, keep these guidelines in mind:
1. Always check with your health-care provider before taking
any type of supplement. Cinnamon, at high doses, for example, would not be
recommended for those on blood thinning medication or those with liver disease.
2. Check your blood sugars regularly to see what the effect
is on your own blood glucose. Effects can be very individualized.
3. Do not stop taking your diabetic medication unless
directed to do so by your physician.
Hopefully research will continue to shed light on if and how
cinnamon is best used as part of a diabetic treatment plan. For now, don’t
hesitate to add the spice to your foods. While making changes it is important
to continue to follow your diabetes meal plan, get regular exercise, and take
your medications as decided upon by your healthcare team.