Health & Wellbeing

Cinnamon shown to burn fat

Cinnamon shown to burn fat
The findings aren't an excuse to gorge on cinnamon buns, though
The findings aren't an excuse to gorge on cinnamon buns, though
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The findings aren't an excuse to gorge on cinnamon buns, though
The findings aren't an excuse to gorge on cinnamon buns, though

Cinnamaldehyde is an essential oil that not only gives cinnamon its distinct flavor, but has also been shown to protect mice against obesity. Now, University of Michigan scientists led by Prof. Jun Wu have gained a better understanding of how it does so, and how it could help keep humans from getting fat, too.

Fat cells, also called adipocytes, store energy in the form of fatty acids known as lipids. While that wasn't a problem back when our early ancestors needed (and used) all the stored energy they could get, today it can cause obesity.

In the study, the researchers collected adipocytes from human volunteers of various ages, ethnicities and body mass indices. After the cells were treated with cinnamaldehyde, they started expressing increased amounts of genes and enzymes that enhance lipid metabolism. This means that the adipocytes were burning energy instead of storing it as fat, in a process called thermogenesis.

Additionally, the cinnamaldehyde caused an increase in metabolic regulatory proteins involved in thermogenesis, within the fat cells.

"Cinnamon has been part of our diets for thousands of years, and people generally enjoy it," says Wu. "So if it can help protect against obesity, too, it may offer an approach to metabolic health that is easier for patients to adhere to."

Wu does add that further studies are necessary, in order to determine how to reap the benefits of cinnamaldehyde while avoiding unwanted side effects.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Metabolism.

And cinnamon, incidentally, has also recently been shown to boost learning capabilities in mice.

Source: University of Michigan

"This message comes to you courtesy of Cinnabon" - just kidding, but it would be interesting to see whether there's some sort of correlation in countries who use insane amounts of cinnamon. This is further complicated because most cinnamon sold is actually fake, made from the bark of the South Asian cassia tree, which, to add injury to insult, contains considerable amounts of a liver toxin called coumarin. This almost led to cinnamon roll bans in Denmark in 2013.
Martin, I'm not sure what grounds you are calling cassia cinnamon fake. Historically the two species were not differentiated in the West, with both species being a prized import. Some of the earliest imports are believed to come from China, which would indicate that the earliest references there were of cassia. I don't know where this recent labeling of 'fake' and 'true' cinnamon comes from, perhaps a product of the haute confectionery society. I would argue that as most people experience cassia as cinnamon rather than verum, as you pointed out, cassia would be true cinnamon by popular understanding. As far as liver toxicity goes, people have been regularly taking higher doses of cinnamon medicinally for at least 2000 years without adverse effect when prescribed appropriately. The next time I bite into a cinnamon roll it won't be the cinnamon I worry about.