Cinnamon is one of the most diverse spices you’ll find in your spice rack. It can be paired with hearty, savory recipes like exotic Moroccan tagines or Indian rice dishes, or with sweet treats like vegan apple pie or waffles. But here’s some unexpected news – this warm, woody spice may also be able to help you lose weight. You might be thinking, “C’mon, cinnamon for weight loss, really??” But, read on and you just might be convinced!
What Is Cinnamon?
Cinnamon comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree and is rich in antioxidants – it has more antioxidants than blueberries! Antioxidants are essential to protecting both your skin and body from free radicals. Free radicals can damage your cells, which can increase the visual signs of aging and the risk of chronic diseases.1
Cinnamon also contains vitamins A, B, and C and important minerals, like iron, manganese, calcium, and zinc.2
The history of cinnamon is long and rich. It’s been as an ancient folk medicine for thousands of years. In Indian Ayurvedic traditions, cinnamon has long been used as a treatment for respiratory, digestive, and gynecological issues.3 In the Middle Ages, cinnamon was used as a remedy for coughs.4
But now cinnamon has become a favored spice of weight loss experts in the here and now, as science begins to back up some of this ancient knowledge.
Here are three incredible ways in which you can use cinnamon for weight loss:
1. It May Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Excessive blood sugar can cause weight gain, because it causes your pancreas to make more insulin. Insulin is what controls your blood sugar.
And the more insulin you have, the more likely you are to gain weight, as insulin prompts your body to store extra blood sugar as fat – usually belly fat.
This pattern can lead to insulin resistance, which results in even greater blood sugar levels. It’s a vicious, and dangerous, cycle.5
But cinnamon extract has shown the potential to regulate blood sugar…
Which could help you to lose weight (as well as lower your risk of chronic disease). One particular research study looked at eight clinical trials, where patients with chronic high blood sugar were given monitored doses of cinnamon. There appeared to be a significant improvement in glycemic control across all studies.6
In another investigation, lean and healthy participants were also given a cinnamon extract. The cinnamon was able to reduce total plasma glucose in their blood, as well as improve insulin sensitivity (how much insulin is produced). The effects were immediate, and they lasted for up to 12 hours.7
This is not to say you should replace diabetes medicine with cinnamon, but it could be worth talking to your doctor about adding cinnamon for weight loss to your healthy routine.
2. It May Curb Your Appetite
Cinnamon may delay “gastric emptying,” which, in turn, may reduce the appetite – helping you lose weight. Gastric emptying is the rate at which food leaves your stomach. The longer it takes to empty your stomach, the less hungry you will potentially feel.8
In small a clinical study, 14 healthy participants were given either rice pudding or a mixture of rice pudding with cinnamon extract. Researchers found that cinnamon for weight loss significantly delayed gastric emptying.9
Of course, the sample size in that study is relatively small, so more research would be needed to draw concrete conclusions. Still, the current studies show promise in terms of cinnamon for weight loss.
3. It May Manage Cholesterol
Having high levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol is one of the biggest risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and strokes. This is because cholesterol causes plaque to build up in the arteries, decreasing the heart’s blood supply.10
And high cholesterol can also cause weight gain, because it brings high levels of triglycerides (blood fats) with it. The body usually uses these blood fats for vital functions, but whatever is left over is stored as fat, making it more difficult for you to lose weight.11 LDL cholesterol and these blood fats may be influenced by cinnamon.
Studies have shown that cinnamon may reduce the level of “bad” cholesterol in the blood.
Research suggests that cinnamon may also reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels (blood fat) while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol levels.12
Of course, it is not wise to depend on cinnamon for weight loss without talking to a doctor. But if you want to maintain already-healthy cholesterol levels, it may be worth increasing the cinnamon in your diet.
Need More Good News About Cinnamon?
As a bonus, cinnamon is absolutely packed with flavor. You can easily replace butter, salt, and sugar by using cinnamon to flavor your meals instead. That in itself can cut down your calorie intake considerably!
Need some ideas on how to get more in your diet?
- Add cinnamon to mashed sweet potatoes instead of all that butter.
- Use it in your coffee in place of sugar.
- Sprinkle it on some baked apples for a healthy twist
Here’s to spicing up your diet!
For more healthy food tips, keep reading on the ActivatedYou blog:
Ginger for Upset Stomach (5 ways to eat more ginger)
5 of the WORST “Health” Foods for Weight Loss
What is Kimchi? (plus, a delicious DIY kimchi recipe)