Cinnamon's Effect on Diabetes

Chances are that you already sprinkle cinnamon on toast or add it to oatmeal. If you have diabetes, you may want to consider consuming even more of this sweet spice.

New research suggests that taking cinnamon supplements may help improve blood sugar levels, according to a study in the Annals of Family Medicine that was reported on in LiveScience. Individuals with type 2 diabetes who took the supplements had lower fasting blood sugar levels than those who didn't. Those who took the supplements also improved their cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

For the review in the Annals of Family Medicine, scientists focused on data from 10 randomized control trials. Individuals in the trials consumed cinnamon in pill form at doses that ranged from 120 mg to 6 grams per day.

"When we combined the results of all the trials, we found that in patients with type 2 diabetes, there was a benefit to blood glucose and cholesterol levels," said study researcher Olivia Phung, an assistant professor at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, according to LiveScience. "Cinnamon may well be helpful," says Lauren Graf, MS, RD, of Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "And adding cinnamon to foods can also be helpful when part of an overall healthy diet."

While the dose of cinnamon used in the study was quite large, "It couldn't hurt to have some cinnamon in your food," says Deborah Gerszberg, RD, of New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. "And it's delicious. Sprinkle generously into smoothies or on fresh fruit."

If you're eating a lot of processed foods and refined carbs, though, simply sprinkling on a little cinnamon is not going to yield any big health benefits, Graf says. "Even though the studies show it can be helpful, it is important to look at the bigger picture," she explains. "Eating healthy foods in general is what changes your blood sugar level."

Here are some easy ways to spice up your diet with cinnamon:

  • Sprinkle it on your morning oatmeal
  • Add a few sticks to the grounds of your coffee before you brew it
  • Sprinkle cinnamon into low-fat cottage cheese
  • Bake a cinnamon-topped apple and serve it with a garnish of Greek yogurt
  • Toast cinnamon-raisin bread and spread it with yogurt
  • Flavor homemade bran muffins with cinnamon
  • Add to smoothies and milkshakes
  • Sweeten cooked sweet potato, yam, and butternut squash with cinnamon. Add a dash of sea salt and a pinch of nutmeg to make a flavorful side dish.

Deborah Gerszberg, RD, CNSC, CDN, reviewed this article.


Allen, Robert W. et al. "Cinnamon Use in Type 2 Diabetes: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis." September/October 2013. Annals of Family Medicine.

Nierenberg, Cari. "How Cinnamon Could Benefit Diabetes Patients." 9 September 2013.
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