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  • Writer's pictureLee Reeves

Ceylon Cinnamon for the Win!

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

First post! I want to talk about cinnamon for diabetics. At first glance, you might think of cinnamon as just a seasoning, but it's a powerful supplement with numerous health benefits (and at least one drawback if you select the wrong kind).

I don't know about you, but to me, cinnamon was always just a spice that either comes as a powder in a jar or little sticks of curled...well, cinnamon. So, what the heck is it?

Cinnamon is a spice derived from the bark of trees in the genus Cinnamomum. There are two main types of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon (also known as cinnamomum verum and cinnamomum zeylanicum) and cassia cinnamon (also known as cinnamomum cassia, cinnamomum aromaticum, Saigon cinnamon, and cinnamomum burmannii). Both types are commonly used in cooking and baking but have different properties worth discussing.

So why should people with diabetes care about cinnamon? For starters, cinnamon has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels. Several studies have found that cinnamon supplements can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce fasting blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes (1, 2). A meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled trials found that cinnamon supplementation significantly lowered fasting blood glucose levels and HbA1c levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes (3).

Cinnamon also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and other complications associated with diabetes. Research indicates that cinnamon benefits blood lipids by decreasing total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels while increasing HDL cholesterol levels (4).

So what's the difference between Ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon? Ceylon cinnamon, also known as "true cinnamon," is considered the more delicate and sweet-tasting of the two. On the other hand, Cassia cinnamon is a cheaper and more commonly used alternative with a more robust, more intense flavor. Both types of cinnamon contain the same active compounds that make cinnamon a beneficial supplement. However, cassia cinnamon has been found to contain higher levels of coumarin. This substance can be moderately toxic to the liver and kidneys (of particular concern to those living with T2D!). Some studies have found that consuming too much cassia cinnamon can lead to liver damage and other health problems (5, 6).

If you're thinking about adding cinnamon supplements to your diabetes management plan, it's crucial to choose the right type of cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is generally considered to be safer and more beneficial than cassia cinnamon. Look for supplements that specify that they contain Ceylon cinnamon, and avoid cassia cinnamon supplements if possible.

Of course, before starting any new supplement regimen, you should talk to your doctor, especially if you have diabetes. Your doctor can help you determine whether cinnamon supplements are right for you and can recommend a safe and effective dosage.

Speaking of dosage, how much cinnamon should you be taking? That's a bit of a tricky question. While some studies have found that as little as 1 gram of cinnamon per day can benefit blood sugar levels (7), other studies have used doses as high as 6 grams per day (8). A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials concluded that doses of 120 mg to 6 grams per day of cinnamon were effective in improving glycemic control and lipid levels in people with diabetes (9).

I can think of three easy ways to incorporate Ceylon cinnamon into your diet. First, you can take a Ceylon cinnamon supplement. Second, you can use ground Ceylon cinnamon as a spice in your food or coffee. Last, I like to add a sachet of Ceylon cinnamon to hot water and make brewed tea.

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