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Spice Up Blood Sugar Control with Cinnamon

Diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions in America, with all its attendant risks for heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and more. Previous research has shown that the spice, cinnamon, can help reduce blood sugar, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes—all benefits that can help reduce the health risks of this disease. But how does it work?  Swedish researchers found that it seems to slow the rate at which food leaves the stomach.

In their study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they found that people who ate rice pudding had significantly delayed stomach emptying when the rice pudding contained 6 grams of cinnamon.  They also had significantly lower blood sugar response—about 50 percent of that seen without the cinnamon.  (Hlebowicz, J, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:1552-6.)

Both of these findings are important for people with diabetes. Of course, keeping blood sugar within a normal range reduces the risks for diabetes-related health problems And since stomach fullness is one way the body signals that it’s time to stop eating, delayed stomach emptying may help people eat less. Plus cinnamon has an additional insulin-enhancing effect that helps to control blood sugar.

Adding about a teaspoon a day of cinnamon to your diet may be all it takes to keep blood sugar under control.  But that doesn’t mean you should splurge on cinnamon buns and apple pie. Instead, add cinnamon to healthier fare, like fruit, cereal, toast, teas, coffee, yogurt, low-fat ice cream and cottage cheese, sweet potatoes and lamb.

NOTE: If you have liver disease or use drugs that might cause liver damage, such as cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, you should avoid large doses of cinnamon, because it contains coumarin, a compound that can cause reversible liver damage in large amounts. A patented, water-soluble form of cinnamon that does not contain coumarin and is safe for people with liver problems.

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