Cinnamon was once highly prized as an exotic spice. The ancient Egyptians used cinnamon along with thyme and cumin to embalm their pharaohs. A far more practical use was for preserving meat during medieval times. Cinnamon has a fascinating pharmacology. In recent years, scientists have discovered that cinnamon can help control blood sugar. Here is such a story from a reader of our syndicated newspaper column.
Is There Science that Cinnamon Can Help Control Blood Sugar?
Q. After reading that cinnamon can help control blood sugar, I decided to try it. I eat a little bit of ground cinnamon when I eat sweets or anything like white bread that quickly turns to sugar.
Before, if I ate dessert at night or even French toast for breakfast, I felt terrible after about 45 minutes or so. Now if I want something like that, I eat a little cinnamon before or during my meal. I do not feel bad at all.
I had my blood sugar tested and was told it was normal, but I still felt crummy if I ate anything sweet. This cinnamon trick has been a help.
A. Cinnamon can help reduce the rapid rise in blood sugar that happens after eating something that is quickly digested, like sugar or white bread (Journal of Diabetes Research, online July 14, 2015).
Cinnamon can be taken as powder or tea, but we think tea is better. The components of cinnamon that lower blood sugar are water soluble, so they are carried safely in tea. Coumarin is a toxic compound that is found in some cinnamon. It is not water soluble but you could get some in ground cinnamon. That’s why we urge you not to overdo on this spice.
Ellie shared her trick for extracting the water soluble part of cinnamon:
“Our family has been adding cinnamon to our pot of coffee for years. We put a mixture of cinnamon and cacao powder (no sugar included) into the coffee filter. Then, we put another filter on top of the cinnamon-cacao filter in which we put the coffee. It makes a slight chocolate-cinnamon flavor to the coffee to go with added health benefits. Yumm!”
Not All Cinnamon Can Help Control Blood Sugar Equally:
Not all cinnamon in the supermarket is the same. Cinnamomum cassia, the most common type, has more coumarin than Cinnamomum vera, Ceylon cinnamon. You can find out which is better for blood sugar control at this link. Of course anyone who tries the cinnamon approach needs to monitor blood glucose very carefully to 1) make sure it is working and 2) make sure it is not working too well. A physician’s supervision is also necessary when treating diabetes!
You can learn more about this fascinating spice and get recipes for its use in our book, Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs & Spikes Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life. You will also learn about anise, basil, caraway, chamomile, coriander, cumin, fennel, garlic, ginger, lavender, lemon balm, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, turmeric and vanilla.
It may be ordered at this link.
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