A 16-week randomised controlled trial (RCT) was conducted with 116 Asian Indian subjects (64 men and 52 women) who had metabolic syndrome. They were divided into two groups: in one group, each participant was given 2.5g of a wheat flour daily as a placebo, and in the other, each received 3g of cinnamon daily; both the wheat flour and cinnamon were administered in capsule form.
Subsequently, the intervention group experienced a significant decrease in fasting blood glucose, glycosylated haemoglobin and post-prandial blood glucose. Compared to the placebo group, those in the cinnamon intervention group also experienced greater weight loss and increase of HDL cholesterol, as well as a greater decrease in waist circumference, LDL and total cholesterol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and body fat percentage.
It has previously been reported that cinnamate, a phenolic compound found in the inner bark of cinnamon, lowers cholesterol level in rats on a high-fat diet and suppresses lipid peroxidation by enhancing antioxidant enzyme activity in the liver.
Additionally, the “aqueous extract of cinnamon stem bark has been shown to reduce sucrose-induced elevation in systolic blood pressure of spontaneously hypertensive rats”, as well as lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure in pre-diabetic and diabetic humans.
Asian Indians in particular are predisposed to insulin resistance, more so than other ethnic groups, and often develop metabolic syndrome and diabetes due to their tendency to become obese. As such, the study said that “if cinnamon acts at the cellular level in improving insulin resistance, it could be of great value to Asian Indians”.
Furthermore, cinnamon capsules are significantly more affordable than anti-hyperglycaemic or weight loss medications. It is also commonly used as a flavouring agent in Indian cooking, which makes it easy to incorporate into daily diets.
The results showed “significant decrease in measures of glycaemia, adiposity — including abdominal obesity — lipids, blood pressure, and major decrease in percentage of individuals having metabolic syndrome with single nutrient intervention of cinnamon”.
The researchers noted that "a single supplement intervention with 3g of cinnamon for 16 weeks resulted in significant improvements in all components of metabolic syndrome in a sample of Asian Indians in north India."
The study concluded that though the results were “promising, they should be tested in a larger sample over longer period of time”.
Source: Lipids in Health and Disease
“Effect of oral cinnamon intervention on metabolic profile and body composition of Asian Indians with metabolic syndrome: a randomized double-blind control trial”
Authors: Sonal Gupta Jain, et al.