Cinnamon has been used in a host of traditional Indian, Turkish, and Persian cuisines, to provide flavour to curries and other food items for centuries.
Unfortunately, Western society may be more familiar with cinnamon (sugar) use in cappuccinos, cinnamon rolls and cinnamon donuts, all of which are associated with weight gain.
What if cinnamon could actually be used as a weight loss agent instead?
A double blind randomised control trial looked at the effects of cinnamon supplementation on body composition as well as blood cholesterol and sugar levels in people with metabolic syndrome (obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars levels).
Over 16 weeks, patients were randomised into the cinnamon group or placebo group. The cinnamon group would consume 3g of cinnamon daily where as the placebo group would receive 2.5g of wheat flour. They used wheat flour because it was already a major staple in many of the participants’ diets so the additional 2.5g would unlikely have any additional effects.
Both groups received the same dietary and physical activity advice (e.g. going for a walk for 45 min every day).
Truly Cinnamatic Results!
The Cinnamon group had significant health benefits compared to the Placebo group. The Cinnamon group reduced their:
- Weight on average by 3.5 kgs (7.7 lbs) vs 0.4 kgs (0.88 lbs)
- Waist circumference by 5.6cm (2.2 inches) vs 0.7cm (0.28 inches)
- Systolic blood pressure by 13.6 mmHg vs 5.4 mmHg
- Diastolic blood pressure by 8.1 mmHg vs 1.2 mmHg
They also reduced their fasting blood glucose levels, HBA1c, total cholesterol levels, and LDL (bad cholesterol levels while increasing their HDL (good cholesterol levels).
Was this just a fluke?
Another study designed as a triple-blind placebo-controlled randomised trial looked at the effects of cinnamon supplementation on people with type II diabetes.
Using only 1 gram of cinnamon per day without any extra advice given on diet and exercise, the cinnamon group lost on average 1.9 kgs (4.2 lbs) compared to the placebo group who actually gained 0.4 kgs (0.88 lbs) over 12 weeks.
Again, there were also very positive effects on blood glucose levels, insulin resistance as well as cholesterol levels.
Use True Cinnamon Daily
Cinnamon comes in two main varieties known as Ceylon and Cassia. Cassia cinnamon is known as Cinnamomum Cassia. Ceylon cinnamon is known as Cinnamomum Verum. ‘Verum’ means ‘True’. The majority of cinnamon sold in the United States is Cassia.
Both varieties contain the chemical coumarin which is a natural plant chemical that has blood thinning effects. Coumarin is also associated with liver and kidney toxicity. Cassia cinnamon contains much higher concentrations of coumarin compared to Ceylon cinnamon (0.4-0.8% vs 0.03-0.04% respectively). It is for this reason that we avoid Cassia cinnamon and instead purchase only Ceylon cinnamon, especially for daily use.
The easiest way for us to include cinnamon in our daily diet has been to add it to our morning rolled oats. We also love to add it to our lattes, teas, soups and baking recipes!
Keep In Mind
As always, we should keep in mind that a whole food plant-based lifestyle with regular exercise and mindfulness is the first priority in achieving our health and wellness goals. Adding or excluding specific foods may help us achieve our goals sooner but they should not be the focus of our approach!
- Gupta Jain S, Puri S, Misra A, Gulati S, Mani K. Effect of oral cinnamon intervention on metabolic profile and body composition of Asian Indians with metabolic syndrome: a randomized double -blind control trial. Lipids Health Dis. 2017;16(1):113. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28606084/
- Zare R, Nadjarzadeh A, Zarshenas MM, Shams M, Heydari M. Efficacy of cinnamon in patients with type II diabetes mellitus: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Clin Nutr. 2019;38(2):549-556. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29605574/