New Delhi: Cinnamon, an ingredient commonly used in Indian food, can be highly beneficial in managing metabolic syndrome, research by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Institute of Home Economics (University of Delhi), and Fortis CDOC Hospital shows.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of medical conditions—increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels—that occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes in an individual.
Scientists investigated the effect of cinnamon in diet among Asian Indians who had a much greater propensity to develop multiple metabolic problems leading to diabetes at an early age. Individuals with metabolic syndrome were identified and recruited from a private hospital and a clinic located in south Delhi. The study included over 130 patients who were given cinnamon capsules for 16 weeks.
The results showed considerable beneficial effect of cinnamon supplementation on patients with metabolic syndrome, with significant decrease in hyperglycemia, body weight, total adiposity, abdominal adiposity and serum lipid levels on using 3g/day of cinnamon.
The research was published in ‘Lipids in Health and Disease’, an international journal, in June 2017.
With the consumption of cinnamon, the weight of the patients on trial decreased by 3.8%, body mass index reduced by 3.9% and body fat decreased by 4.3%, waist circumference reduced by 5.3%, blood pressure decreased by 9.7% and fasting blood glucose decreased by 7.1%.
“The promising results of this research reveal that Indian spices and herbs can have tremendous health benefits. Cinnamon is a spice which is commonly used in Indian kitchens and hence can be easily incorporated in daily diets, which has a potential to balance out the metabolism better," said Dr Seema Puri, associate professor at Institute of Home Economics, University of Delhi.
Asian Indians have long been considered to be a “high-risk population" for metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). During the previous three decades, the prevalence of T2DM has doubled in India, and early onset and severe CVD is frequently seen.
“The reasons for such rapid rise of diseases in Indians are multiple; but mostly related to imbalanced diets and increased physical inactivity due to economic liberalization, urbanization and mechanization. Cinnamon should be included in meals by all adult Indians, and particularly those who have multiple metabolic risk factors or diabetes. Indian herbs and spices have enormous beneficial properties that need to be proven with scientific research like this," said Dr Anoop Misra, director, National Diabetes Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation, and chairman, Fortis CDOC Hospital for diabetes.
Interestingly, there were no side effect noted in patients with the inclusion of cinnamon in their diet. The major components present in cinnamon include cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, eugenol and coumarin.
“If cinnamon acts at the cellular level in improving insulin resistance, it could be of great value to Asian Indians who have high predisposition for insulin resistance, more than other ethnic groups," said Dr Sonal Gupta Jain, assistant professor at Institute of Home Economics, University of Delhi.
“In addition, decrease in overall obesity and abdominal obesity would be of relevance for Asian Indians, since much of their tendency of development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes could be ascribed to such body composition characteristics. Further, cinnamon is cost-effective in comparison to anti-hyperglycemic or weight loss medications," she said.