Cinnamon is one of the oldest known spices. It is obtained from the bark of the cinnamon tree and is available as a cinnamon stick or as ground cinnamon. This spice offers you a sweet taste and health benefits including lowering your triglyceride levels.
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Triglycerides are a type of fat found in fat tissue and your bloodstream. Your body makes some of its own triglycerides, but they also come from the foods you eat. If you eat more calories than your body needs, those calories are turned into fat and stored in fat cells for later use. High triglyceride levels can lead to hardening of the arteries, which may put you at risk for heart disease or stroke. Triglyceride levels are measured along with cholesterol levels in blood tests. If your levels are below 150, you are in the safe range. Levels above 200 are considered high.
Daily cinnamon intake may decrease your triglyceride levels. In a 2003 study published in “Diabetes Care," 60 Type 2 diabetics were randomly assigned to consume 1, 3 or 6 grams of cinnamon daily or a matching placebo. The supplement was given for 40 days. After another 20 days, blood tests indicated lower triglyceride levels in all three cinnamon groups with no differences in the placebo groups. A similar study published in 2011 in the “Journal of Paramedical Sciences” showed comparable benefits. Sixty Type 2 diabetics were given 500 milligrams of cinnamon or a placebo three times a day for 60 days. Triglyceride levels decreased in the cinnamon group but not the placebo group.
Only small amounts of cinnamon on a daily basis are needed to lower your triglyceride levels. In the 2003 “Diabetes Care Study,” the lowest dose of 1 gram of cinnamon showed positive effects on triglyceride levels. This amount is equal to ½ teaspoon. You can start with this amount and increase up to 6 grams or 3 teaspoons as needed. Sprinkle cinnamon on cereal or oatmeal in the morning, add it to Greek yogurt as a snack or flavor vegetables with it for dinner to reach your desired amount.
Cinnamon contains no calories and cannot harm your health in small doses, but no one knows exactly how much cinnamon may be toxic. Dr. Frank Sachs, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, states that cinnamon is not as effective as taking statin drugs for lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Additionally, many unhealthy foods, such as cinnamon buns and muffins, contain this spice. Beware of what you are eating, as high-calorie foods may cause you to gain weight and increase your triglyceride levels.
- Help with Cooking: A Brief Guide to the Cinnamon Spice
- Medline Plus: Triglycerides
- Diabetes Care: Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People with Type 2 Diabetes
- Journal of Paramedical Sciences: Effect of Cinnamon Supplementation on Blood Glucose and Lipid Levels in Type 2 Diabetic Patients
- Boston Globe: Cinnamon Joins Cholesterol Battle
Michelle Fisk began writing professionally in 2011. She has been published in the "Physician and Sports Medicine Journal." Her expertise lies in the fields of exercise physiology and nutrition. Fisk holds a Master of Science in kinesiology from Marywood University.