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I have read that cinnamon helps control blood sugar levels. Is this true, and how much cinnamon would one have to eat daily?
There has been good research on this spice and how it might help control blood sugars. These have been well controlled, blinded studies. Unfortunately, the research has had small study groups - generally fewer than 60 participants. Some studies have shown benefit of a reduction in the Hemoglobin A1c (a 90 day average of blood sugars) by almost 1%.
This would be great as there is a major difference between a normal Hemoglobin A1c of 6.5% and one at 7.5%, with the higher number indicating poorer control of blood sugars and more risk for diabetics. The problem is that a recent meta analysis combining 5 of these smaller studies together for analysis showed no benefit in the Hemoglobin A1c or cholesterol profiles.
I think that the jury is still out on this one. Some doctors are actively telling their patients to use cinnamon and the amount and type varies. I don't. There's just not enough data to know what preparation and how much to take. That said, I think that you'll see a lot of research coming down the pipeline on this in the next few years. We'll keep you posted in our weekly Health & Nutrition Bites.
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan MD, FACP