Metabolic syndrome affects roughly 32 percent of U.S. adults, and is characterized by obesity -- especially around the midsection -- hypertension and reduced metabolism of both glucose and insulin. The syndrome is associated with an increased risk in the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The study's lead researcher, Dr. Anne-Marie Roussel from the Joseph Fourier University in France, recruited 24 participants with impaired fasting glucose levels for a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The patients were split into two randomly assigned groups: The first received a daily dose of 500 mg of cinnamon extract (Cinnulin PF from Integrity Neutraceuticals), and the second received a placebo for 12 weeks.
At the study's conclusion, the researchers found that in the cinnamon extract group, plasma antioxidant levels and plasma SH levels were significantly increased, compared to the placebo group. Plasma levels of a reactive compound related to oxidative stress -- malondialdehyde (MDA) -- were also lower in the cinnamon group, but remained unchanged in the placebo patients.
"This study tells us that the active compounds found in cinnamon extract may be helpful in reducing the risk of these diseases by providing cells protection from harmful oxidation," said Dr. Richard Anderson of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who collaborated on the study. "People with impaired insulin function are at a higher risk of developing life-threatening chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, the number one killer in the U.S."
Previous animal studies have linked daily consumption of cinnamon extract to reduced blood pressure and hypertension, as well as lower levels of blood glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
Consumer advocate Mike Adams, author of "How to Halt Diabetes in 25 Days," said cinnamon is widely used as a blood sugar regulator among diabetics.
"Now, with this latest study, we're learning that cinnamon also protects the body from oxidative damage," Adams said. "That makes it the perfect medicinal herb for diabetics."