Cinnamon for Diabetes

For those who are familiar with the diabetes diet, cinnamon is a large component. Research is suggesting that cinnamon may help control blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes, but results so far have been mixed. Lab studies at the University of Georgia tested extracts from two dozen spices and herbs, and some findings suggest that generous amounts of cinnamon could be useful. 

Several other studies have examined the effects of adding cinnamon to the diets in people with type 2 diabetes, and the results have been somewhat conflicting, according to Alternative Medicine Alert.  The trials involved having participants consume either a cinnamon capsule or a placebo. Some studies have found cinnamon helpful in controlling blood sugars but in some studies, the placebo worked, too.  In East Asia, cinnamon is used as a treatment for diabetes, according to Alternative Medicine Alert. In the United States, it's not a traditional treatment for diabetes.

"The research has been mixed on whether cinnamon helps," sys nutritionist Joy Pape, author of "The Real-Life Guide to Diabetes." "But it can't hurt, and it certainly makes food taste better."

While solid proof must still be established, there is certainly no harm in trying it out yourself. In most of the studies, participants have consumed the equivalent of about one half teaspoon of Cassia cinnamon, which is a dark, almost reddish color and a slightly pungent flavor. Cassia cinnamon is also known as Chinese cinnamon. It is used in toothpaste and mouthwashes as well as a flavoring of food. Often the cinnamon we buy in stores is a mixture of varieties. The studies on cinnamon and diabetes have been done with Cassia cinnamon.

Here's how to incorporate cinnamon into your meal plans:

Season chimichangas and enchiladas with a little cinnamon.

Put a cinnamon stick in your coffee or tea, or lay a cinnamon stick in the basket of your coffee maker when you fill it with ground coffee.

Flavor oatmeal and other hot cereal with cinnamon.

Cinnamon goes with a variety of dishes, but if you have diabetes, go easy on the sugar. Avoid mixing cinnamon with sugar and sprinkling it on toast.