Does Cinnamon Really Possess Medicinal Properties?
Is Cinnamon Really a Medicinal Spice?
Cinnamon is a plant that has a variety of uses among many different cultures, from spicing up foods to deterring germs from growing. There are actually two main forms of cinnamon that are commonly found in foods. The first, Cinnamomum verum, also known as “true” cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon, is commonly used in sweet pastries. On the other hand, Cinnamomum cassia, also known as cassia, Chinese cinnamon or “bastard” cinnamon, is used as a stronger spice in a variety of foods. In fact, it is cassia-based cinnamon that is often seen on the grocery shelves and is most often cheaper than true cinnamon.
Still No Clear Answers
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the health benefits of cinnamon, but can it lower cholesterol levels? Scientists studying cinnamon say that it might have potential. Much of the information publicized about cinnamon mostly concerns its role in lowering blood sugar in diabetes. Proanthrocyanidin, an active molecule in cinnamon, functions by activating the insulin receptor within the cell, therefore enabling the cell to use glucose for its energy. During some of these studies, scientists also found evidence that, along with lowering glucose levels, cinnamon may also lower lipid levels.
What Have the Studies Proven?
A study conducted in 2003 noted that a daily intake of one-half teaspoon (1 gram) of cassia cinnamon not only lowered blood sugar levels in type II diabetics, it also significantly lowered LDL (low density lipoprotein, “bad” cholesterol) and triglyceride levels. High-density lipoprotein (HDL, the “good” cholesterol) was not affected by cinnamon in this study. However, more recent studies have concluded that consuming cinnamon does not change your cholesterol levels.
What Do the Results Mean?
The research conducted on cinnamon so far has not conclusively proven that it can lower cholesterol levels. Therefore, more studies are needed to determine how effective cinnamon would be in lowering cholesterol, which type of cinnamon to use, and the amount needed to lower cholesterol levels. Most of the studies used cassia cinnamon in their experiments, so it would probably be useful to see if true cinnamon was any different in lowering cholesterol levels. Additionally, the form of cinnamon may make a difference. For instance, some studies have used a powdered form of cinnamon, whereas other studies have used an extract of cinnamon. So, if you have been diagnosed as having high cholesterol, taking cinnamon might not help lower your cholesterol levels, but it probably won't hurt either.