Why Chinese cinnamon should be part of your weight loss plans
05/21/2019 // Ralph Flores // Views

Cinnamon is more than a popular flavor in food and drink. It has been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat various illnesses. These days, it's also gaining interest as a weight loss booster – something that researchers from Dongguk University in South Korea investigated in their study. Their findings, which appeared in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, were promising: Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) was shown to have anti-obesity properties, making it ideal for weight management.

In traditional Chinese medicine, cinnamon -- referred to as rou gui -- is a valuable herb often used to promote blood circulation, as well as warm the body. TCM practitioners consider cinnamon as "hot" in nature and use the spice to treat yang deficiencies in the heart, liver, and spleen. In terms of weight management, a study in Diabetes Care showed that cinnamon can help reduce blood sugar, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in those with Type 2 diabetes. Triglycerides, in particular, are an important marker for those at risk of obesity as elevated levels can indicate the presence of chronic illnesses like diabetes; metabolic syndrome, often a precursor for heart disease; hypothyroidism, and even certain genetic conditions. A review published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism identified a similar benefit, with cinnamon being directly linked to stable blood sugar levels and even reduced appetite and hunger.

For the study, the team looked at whether Chinese cinnamon -- the most ubiquitous type of cinnamon -- has anti-obesity properties using in vivo and in vitro methods. They selected male C57BL/6 mice and fed them with either normal chow or a high-fat diet for four months. The mice in the experiment group were treated with Chinese cinnamon extract daily and were compared with the control group, as well as those who were treated with the anti-diabetes drug metformin.


The results supported both the results proffered by earlier studies and traditional medicine. The rats that were treated with Chinese cinnamon extract showed a significant decrease in body weight and had lower biomarkers for diabetes and high cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia). The rats also exhibited decreased glucose tolerance and insulin resistance, both of which are risk factors for diabetes. While the rats treated with Chinese cinnamon had reduced appetites, in vitro studies showed that the extracts increased ATP levels, which allowed them to have increased energy expenditure.

After analyzing liver tissues from the rats, the team noted that the extract suppressed lipid accumulation and decreased the size of fat cells (adipocytes), two factors that are linked to obesity risk, according to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"Our results suggest CC [Cinnamomum cassia] extract controls weight gain in obese mice by inhibiting lipid accumulation and increasing energy expenditure, and that its action mechanism involves the up-regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle cells," the researchers concluded in their report.

These findings were very similar to a study led by the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute (LSI), which was published in the journal Metabolism. The study indicated that cinnamaldehyde, the essential oil responsible for cinnamon's unique flavor, boosts metabolism by inducing thermogenesis in fat cells, which burns them for energy.

"Cinnamon has been part of our diets for thousands of years, and people generally enjoy it," explained Jun Wu, a professor at LSI and co-author of the study. "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."

Food.news has you covered on stories about the other benefits of Chinese cinnamon.

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