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Cinnamon May Control Blood Sugar to Prevent Diabetes

spoon of cinnamon

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Key Takeaways

  • A third of a teaspoon of cinnamon a day may improve fasting blood glucose levels and glucose tolerance over time in people with prediabetes.
  • Prediabetes is a precursor to developing type 2 diabetes. Diet and lifestyle changes can slow or reverse its progression.

New research shows daily consumption of cinnamon may help control blood sugar in individuals with prediabetes, preventing type 2 diabetes down the road.

The data, published in the July issue of the Journal of Endocrine Society, looked at the effect of three daily 500 milligram (mg) doses of cinnamon over the course of 12 weeks. All 54 study participants were considered prediabetic, but only 27 received cinnamon in capsule form. The rest received a placebo.

After 12 weeks, people on the placebo had higher fasting blood glucose—the mount of sugar in the blood after an overnight fast—but levels in people consuming cinnamon remained stable. Fasting blood glucose levels will remain high if your body can't produce enough insulin after a long period without food.

Additionally, cinnamon, but not placebo, resulted in an improved glucose tolerance—the ability to metabolize sugar.

“We've had evidence for a while that cinnamon can lower blood glucose levels in people with diabetes,” Melissa Azzarro, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian, tells Verywell. “The [new] data seems to suggest that the benefits extend to individuals with prediabetes as well, without any safety concerns.”

What Is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes, also referred to as impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose, is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. It doesn't cause symptoms, but can be identified with a blood test.

An Easy Solution to a Common Problem?

"The current prevalence of prediabetes in the U.S. is estimated to be just over 84 million adults,” Hailey Crean, MS, RD, CDCES, registered dietitian and owner of Hailey Crean Nutrition, LLC, tells Verywell. "According to an expert panel compiled by the American Diabetes Association, up to 70% of individuals with prediabetes will eventually progress to type 2 diabetes.”

Crean says cinnamaldehyde, the active component in cinnamon, is thought to support insulin release and increase insulin sensitivity, helping to lower blood sugar in people already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. According to Azzaro, this also has benefits for people who don't yet have diabetes.

“Cinnamon is a fantastic addition to the diet for anyone concerned about blood sugar balance,” Azzarro says. “I recommend women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) include it in their diet daily to help lower the risk for developing type 2 diabetes."

Incorporating an effective amount into your diet isn't hard.

"For the benefits seen in this study, 1.5 grams of cinnamon is approximately one-third of a teaspoon—easy to add to a smoothie, yogurt, or oats," Azzaro says. As an alternative, cinnamon is also available in supplement form.

The study identified little risk of using cinnamon to manage prediabetes.

However, experts caution against taking this research as an official recommendation.

“The evidence doesn't support the universal recommendation of cinnamon supplements for all individuals with prediabetes just yet,” Crean says. Still, she sees cinnamon as a great way to boost flavor in place of added sugar.

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  1. Romeo G, Lee J, Mulla M, Noh Y, Holden C, Byung-Cheol Lee B. Influence of cinnamon on glycemic control in subjects with prediabetes: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the Endocrine Society. bvaa094. doi:10.1210/jendso/bvaa094

  2. Tabák AG, Herder C, Rathmann W, Brunner EJ, Kivimäki M. Prediabetes: a high-risk state for diabetes developmentLancet. 2012;379(9833):2279-2290. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60283-9

  3. Guo X, Sun W, Huang L, et al. Effect of cinnamaldehyde on glucose metabolism and vessel function. Med Sci Monit. 2017;23:3844-3853. doi:10.12659/MSM.906027