Less than half a teaspoon of cinnamon daily could significantly reduce the risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes, suggests a small trial in next month's Diabetes Care journal.
Researchers from the US Agricultural Research Service andcolleagues from research institutes in Peshawar, Pakistan found that just 1g of the spice per day reduced blood glucose levels, as well as triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in a small group of people with type 2 diabetes.
The researchers added however that they do not yet have data on safety or potential toxic build-up from consistently ingesting table cinnamon.
In the study, the researchers divided a group of 60 volunteers - who were not taking insulin - randomly into six groups. The first group ate 1g cinnamon per day, while the second group ate 3g of cinnamon per day, and the third group ate 6g of cinnamon per day.
The other groups were given placebo capsules corresponding in size and number to the capsules consumed by volunteers in the three cinnamon-eating groups.
In type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas does not produce enoughinsulin, the hormone that regulates sugar metabolism, or the body cannot correctly use it. This causes unhealthy levels of sugar to circulate in the blood, instead of providing energy to muscles.
In the cinnamon trial the researchers saw an improvement of roughly 20 per cent in blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in volunteers eating as little as 1g (less than half a teaspoon) of the spice per day for 40 days. No advantage was seen in taking more than that amount.
Significantly, the volunteers' blood sugar levels started climbing when the cinnamon was stopped, reported the researchers.
The results - encouraging though preliminary - indicate the need for further analysis of cinnamon and its chemical components and for long-term feeding studies, they concluded.
Researchers are beginning to look more closely at the medicinal benefits of spices with turmeric already shown in several trials to have strong disease-fighting properties.