If, like me, you’ve over-indulged during the festive season on one-too-many mince pies and party canapés, then the solution to shedding those extra pounds you’ve gained may be sitting in your kitchen spice rack. I’m talking about cinnamon.
It turns out that cinnamon might hold the secret to losing weight, according to researchers who recently studied how the spice interacts with fat cells. The compound that gives cinnamon its flavour and scent, cinnamaldehyde, encourages fat cells to burn calories to produce heat, a metabolic process known as thermogenesis.
Harnessing the cinnamon ingredient’s power to turn fat into energy could be important in fighting weight gain and obesity. The study, published in the December issue of the journal Metabolism, noted that cinnamaldehyde has previously been shown to have an anti-obesity effect in mice and to prevent high blood-sugar levels.
The researchers of the current study set out to look deeper into the exact mechanism behind this protective effect and whether cinnamon has the same benefits in humans. The researchers – from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Fudan University in Shanghai, and Central South University in Changsha, China – used cell cultures from the fat-storing tissues of both mice and humans in the study.
The human cells were isolated from four donors undergoing voluntary surgery. When cinnamaldehyde was introduced to the cell cultures, it made the cells from both mice and humans express genes and enzymes that are connected to metabolic activity. According to the researchers, this beneficial effect wasn’t limited to just one body type, as the human tissue was taken “from multiple donors of different ethnicities and ages and with a variety of body mass indexes (BMI)”.
The researchers consistently found that cinnamaldehyde activated thermogenesis in the human (as well as the mouse) tissue. They also explained how our human ancestors did not have as much high-fat food available, so they stored fat that their bodies could call upon for energy when it was cold or there wasn’t anything to eat. In many cases today, however, that fat storage has become overkill.
Commenting on the findings, the researchers said the new research provides “a mechanistic explanation for the anti-obesity effects of [cinnamaldehyde] observed previously and further supporting its potential metabolic benefits on humans”.
“Given the wide usage of cinnamon in the food industry, the notion that this popular food additive, instead of a drug, may activate thermogenesis, could ultimately lead to therapeutic strategies against obesity that are much better adhered to by participants,” they added. I’ll take cinnamon over a side effect ridden weight-loss drug any day.
In fact, I’ll be carrying it in my pocket ready to sprinkle onto my food and drink from now on… anything that enhances flavour and speeds up weight loss definitely gets my vote!
Here's to your good health,
Journal Of Natural Health Solutions
Cinnamon helps burn fat cells, published online, independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/cinnamon-burns-fat-cells-helps-weight-loss-obesity-spice-seasoning-study-michigan-a8069771.html