Holiday spice slashes blood sugar in just 12 weeks

If you‘re diabetic, there‘s one simple change you can make to your routine --yes, even during the holidays -- to improve your blood sugar control: Eat more cinnamon.

That alone could make the difference in how well you manage your blood sugar. In fact, a recent study published in the journal Diabetic Medicine found that the benefits of cinnamon can significantly improves blood sugar in just 12, it even improves blood pressure in diabetics who take it every day!

World‘s oldest spice has many health benefits

I've written before about the benefits of cinnamon. It is one of the oldest spices known to man and has been used medicinally for thousands of years. In fact, cinnamon contains powerful polyphenols, which have been shown to:

  • Boost brain function
  • Thwart infections
  • Zap bacteria
  • Speed healing
  • Relieve menstrual pain
  • Improve circulation
  • Soothe gastrointestinal discomfort

The benefits of cinnamon can also be helpful for anyone at risk for heart disease or stroke...and that covers just about everyone! Cinnamon contains oils that naturally thin the blood. In fact, these compounds prevent platelets from clumping together in your arteries, so unwanted blood clots don‘t tend to form. Cinnamon also contains compounds that effectively reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and slash triglycerides.

Lastly, cinnamon is widely regarded -- even among conventional docs -- for its role in regulating blood sugar. First off, cinnamon slows down how quickly your stomach empties after eating a meal.

This means that -- even if you've eaten a meal with a high-glycemic load -- not all of the sugar gets dumped into your blood stream at once. Instead, the sugar enters your blood a little bit at a time. This gives your body adequate time to respond and produce insulin.

Cinnamon also re-activates your body‘s worn-out insulin receptors. It also blocks the enzyme that damaged these insulin receptors in the first place.

A surprisingly small amount is all it takes

For the most recent study, researchers recruited 58 men and women with diabetes and randomly divided them into two groups. One group received about ¼ a teaspoon of cinnamon each day for 12 weeks. To be more specific, they took 2 grams of cinnamomum cassia, the common variety cinnamon found on your grocery store shelf. But they took it as a capsule. The other group received a placebo.

After the 12 weeks, the blood sugar levels of those taking the cinnamon fell eight percent. Plus, their systolic blood pressure came down about 3 ½ points and their diastolic number fell about 5 points.

Not too shabby for something as simple as adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to your morning oatmeal or even your coffee.

The placebo group didn‘t fair nearly as well. In fact, they didn‘t see any blood pressure improvements during the course of the study. In addition, their blood sugar actually rose 8 ½ percent over the 12 weeks!

The USDA has even jumped on the cinnamon bandwagon!

Last July government scientists found that diabetics who took cinnamon for just 40 days:

  • Lowered their fasting blood glucose levels by 18 to 29 percent
  • Slashed triglycerides by 23 to 30 percent
  • And cut total cholesterol 12 to 26 percent

And that was just by taking ¼ to ½ of a teaspoon of cinnamon each day. When study participants stopped taking the cinnamon, all their improvements disappeared.

Get control of your blood sugar this holiday

Now, I realize that December isn‘t the month most of us choose to make major health overhauls. But an easy way to experience the benefits of cinnamon is to sprinkle some on your apples, oatmeal, yogurt or coffee.

Strive to get at least ¼ a teaspoon each day if you‘re prone to blood sugar issues. Then, by January, you may want to have your blood work checked to see if your levels have improved.

There‘s nothing special to know about buying good cinnamon. Any variety off your grocer‘s shelf will do the trick. Though, I‘d go for "organic" cinnamon if it were available.

Keep it in a sealed glass container in your cabinet. Ground cinnamon will stay fresh this way for about six months, and cinnamon sticks will last about a year. You can extend cinnamon‘s shelf life by keeping it in the refrigerator.

To check for freshness, smell the cinnamon. It should smell sweet. If it doesn't smell sweet, throw it out. It‘s time has come to an end.