Study finds a spoonful of cinnamon improves health

By Marc Ransford

MUNCIE, IN - Sprinkling a spoonful of cinnamon on breakfast foods not only adds a burst of flavor but also dramatically lowers an individual's blood sugar levels, potentially reducing the chance of developing diabetes, says a new study from Ball State University.

Ball State researcher Jo Carol Chezem found when healthy weight and obese adults ate a cooked breakfast cereal with 6 grams of cinnamon, blood sugar levels declined by 25 percent for the next two hours compared to participants who did not ingest the spice. The study was reported in the November issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Chezem's study involved 37 participants and confirms that in both healthy-weight and obese adults, cinnamon reduces blood glucose concentration and enhances insulin sensitivity, strengthening the body’s ability to ward off diabetes.

"Nearly 80 million American adults have prediabetes, a condition characterized by high blood glucose that often leads to diabetes,” said Chezem, who teaches nutrition in Ball State's Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. "We are very encouraged by the study's results and are planning similar studies in individuals with prediabetes and diabetes."

"Although the amount used in the study – 6 grams or about 2 1/2 teaspoons – was much more than a sprinkle, our subjects found the taste acceptable," she said. "Cinnamon can be added to a wide variety of foods. Some ideas include yogurt, iced coffees and teas, fruit smoothies and muffins."

These research findings could play a major role in helping millions of Americans stay healthy by simply adding a flavorful ingredient to start their day, she said.

Burden of Diabetes Among Adults in Indiana, released by the university's Global Health Institute (GHI) in 2011, found that another 5.6 percent of the adult population in Indiana report having prediabetes or borderline diabetes. The average annual health care cost for a person with diabetes in this country is $11,744 as compared to $2,935 for a person without diabetes

"As health care in the United States becomes more expensive, cinnamon may offer a low cost approach to modifying blood glucose," Chezem said.