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Spoonful of Cinnamon May Make Blood Sugar Go Down

Update Date: Feb 06, 2013 01:59 PM EST

Researchers from Ball State University in Indiana have found that cinnamon may help lower blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity. The finding may provide a low-cost method to reduce blood sugar and help prevent diabetes. That would provide a boon, considering that 347 million people in the world have diabetes and many more have pre-diabetes, according to the World Health Organization. In fact, 80 million people have pre-diabetes in the United States alone.

The study was conducted using 30 volunteers. They were all fairly young, between the ages of 18 and 30. Half had a healthy body mass index, while the other half had a body mass index that classified them as obese. Then all of the groups were given a breakfast cereal topped with cinnamon, amounting to six grams  or two and a half teaspoons - more than a sprinkle, but still in an amount that the participants found to be acceptable. Then the researchers tested the participants' blood sugar immediately after the meal and at minute 15, 30, 45, 60, 90 and 120.

The researchers found that, among all of the participants, blood sugar levels decreased by an average of 25 percent. The cinnamon lowered blood glucose concentrations and also insulin sensitivity. That remained true for the next two hours. The findings were encouraging because pre-diabetes is marked by levels of blood glucose that are higher than normal, even if they are not high enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis, the American Diabetes Association reports.

The study may have been limited because the sample size was so small. In addition, blood sugar levels were only tracked for 120 minutes, so it is unclear how long cinnamon's effects would last.

"We are very encouraged by the study's results and are planning similar studies in individuals with prediabetes and diabetes," said study author Jo Carol Chezem in a statement. "Cinnamon can be added to a wide variety of foods. Some ideas include yogurt, iced coffees and teas, fruit smoothies and muffins...As health care in the United States becomes more expensive, cinnamon may offer a low cost approach to modifying blood glucose."

The study was recently published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Diatetics.

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