During my observation of diabetes education sessions at St. Anthony’s, I heard a few people ask about using cinnamon to help with blood glucose management. I personally was also really curious about how well it would work. After some research, I would like to share my professional opinion based on some studies.
The American diabetes association states that, “There is not enough evidence from research to claim that including cinnamon in your daily diet will help regulate blood glucose in people with diabetes.” This was based on a study that measured the effect of 1 to 6 grams of cassia cinnamon on A1C and showed no beneficial effects. 1 gram of cinnamon is equivalent to 1/2 a teaspoon.
There are researchers studying the relationship between cinnamon and blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol, and results have been conflicting. From these studies, we can conclude that cinnamon might be associated with blood glucose, but with minor and various effects. Moreover, every person is different and there is a variable effect of cinnamon on each individual. Cinnamon, as a spice, appears to be safe to use in those with diabetes, as long as it’s used in moderation. If you plan to take larger doses of cinnamon, make sure you speak with your doctor, especially if you are taking diabetes medications. Taking cinnamon with certain medications may cause side effects such as dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, etc. People with liver damage should use caution because a large amount of cinnamon may increase liver problems.
In conclusion, I recommend exercise and healthy diet as the best way to control your blood glucose. These methods are proven to work in everybody with great outcomes! People with diabetes should watch their intake of unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fat) and sodium (salt) to keep their cholesterol and blood pressure under control. Cinnamon and other spices and herbs are a great option when it comes to flavoring your food, whether or not they have beneficial effects on blood glucose and cholesterol. Try using spices and herbs instead of fat and salt to enhance the flavor of food. Spices and herbs add almost no calories, fat, salt or carbohydrates to your dish. If you do plan on using cinnamon, here is one recipe that may help you increase your cinnamon intake while cutting down on sodium and fat.
Written by: Yisi Wang, SLU dietetic intern
Photo credit: Grant Cochrane
Apple Cinnamon Pork Chops
Serves 2; Serving size: 1 pork chop with apples
2 tsp canola oil
1 large apple, sliced
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 3-oz lean boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat
1. In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the canola oil. Add apple slices and saute until just tender.
2. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg, remove from heat, and keep warm.
3. Place pork chops in skillet, and cook thoroughly. Remove pork chops from skillet, arrange on a serving platter, spoon apple slices on top, and serve.
Exchange/Choices: 1 Fruit, 2 Lean Meat, 1 Fat
Total Fat: 10 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 44 mg
Sodium: 36 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 15 mg
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Sugars: 11 g
Protein: 16 g