Cinnamon can improve metabolism and help lose weight

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Cinnamon, a common household spice, may help you lose weight as well as improve your metabolism by making the fat cells burn energy, a new study has revealed.

The findings showed that cinnamaldehyde, an essential oil that gives cinnamon its flavour, improves metabolic health by acting directly on fat cells, or adipocytes, inducing them to start burning energy through a process called thermogenesis.

“Cinnamon has been part of our diets for thousands of years, and people generally enjoy it,” said Jun Wu, research assistant professor at the University of Michigan. “So if it can help protect against obesity, too, it may offer an approach to metabolic health that is easier for patients to adhere to,” Wu said.

And because it is already used widely in the food industry, it might be easier to convince patients to stick to a cinnamon-based treatment than to a traditional drug regimen, Wu noted.

In the study, appearing in the journal Metabolism, when human cells were treated with cinnamaldehyde, there was a spike in an expression of several genes and enzymes that enhance lipid metabolism. An increase in Ucp1 and Fgf21 – important metabolic regulatory proteins involved in thermogenesis – was also observed, the researchers said.

Adipocytes normally store energy in the form of lipids, which could then be used by the body in times of scarcity or in cold temperatures, to induce adipocytes to convert stored energy into heat – a process used by our distant ancestors, who had much less access to high-fat foods and thus a much greater need to store fat.

However, with the rising obesity epidemic, researchers have been looking for ways to prompt fat cells to activate thermogenesis, turning those fat-burning processes back on. “Cinnamaldehyde may offer one such activation method,” Wu said.

There are many ways to enjoy cinnamon and honey together. You can simply add a tablespoon of raw honey and a teaspoon or so of cinnamon to a mug of hot water. You can also add these to hot tea, or throw some cinnamon and honey into your next smoothie. This combination also works great with many recipes, including glazes and salad dressings.

This isn’t the first study to suggest that cinnamon may have beneficial effects on the body’s metabolic processes. Other research has found that the spice appears to protect mice against obesity and hyperglycemia and that it’s associated with lower blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes.