Q: Isn't it true that cinnamon is helpful in controlling diabetes and cholesterol?
A: According to Mary Meck Higgins, associate professor in the human nutrition department at Kansas State University, "It seemed like a little spice was both healthy and nice. However, as research continues on cinnamon, some of its health benefits are now in doubt."
Cinnamon does not appear to help control type 1 or type 2 diabetes or blood fats, according to a 2008 report that analyzed previously- reported studies. No improvement was found for fasting glucose (sugar) or hemoglobin A1C levels. Blood fats, including cholesterol (total, LDL or HDL) and triglyceride levels, did not change either.
People in the study took cinnamon supplements daily for up to four months.
Preliminary research published in 2003 had suggested that a small amount of cinnamon taken each day by people with diabetes helps lower blood sugar levels. But conflicting results were found in small clinical trials published between 2005 and 2007. For the new report, scientists combined the results of five small, previously published, randomized and placebo-controlled clinical studies. This process, called meta-analysis, allowed the researchers to determine more accurately the impact of taking a daily cinnamon supplement.
Taking cinnamon was not associated with clinically significant, or statistically significant, changes in blood levels compared to taking a placebo.
The new study included results from 282 people with diabetes (type 1 or type 2) who received 1 to 6 milligrams (which is equivalent to about 1/2 to 3 teaspoons) of cinnamon, or a placebo, each day. Most subjects were treated and followed for 12 weeks, with a range of 6 to 16 weeks.
As for the most inexpensive way to lower blood sugars, cholesterol and triglycerides? Be physically active.
The same applies to reducing the risk of cancer, reported by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund International. In a newly published report in which more than 7,000 studies had been reviewed, recommendations to reduce cancer risk are:
¢ Keep your body weight within your normal range to be lean.
¢ Every day, be physically active.
¢ Avoid sugary drinks.
¢ Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods.
¢ Limit red meat consumption to less than 18 ounces a week. Avoid processed meat, which is linked to colorectal cancer.
¢ Reduce alcohol consumption. Two drinks for men; one drink for women per day.
¢ Reduce salt intake. Keep the salt shaker off the table.
¢ Give your body nutrition through foods, not pills.
¢ Mothers should breast-feed babies if possible.
- Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.