Elizabeth S. Reames | 4/19/2005 10:28:30 PM
Products containing compounds extracted from cinnamon bark may someday be used to help lower blood sugar levels, according to a recent study. These products can increase the body’s insulin sensitivity to help control type 2 diabetes, says LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.
The study appeared in the April issue of the Agricultural Research magazine. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists reported that the cinnamon compounds, called polyphenolic polymers, increased sugar metabolism in fat cells 20-fold in test tube assay.
"Impaired sugar and fat metabolism can lead to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease," Reames says. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 18.2 million Americans, or more than 6 percent of the population, have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 90 percent and 95 percent of the total.
The LSU AgCenter nutritionist explains that the compounds extracted from cinnamon increase insulin sensitivity by activating key enzymes that stimulate insulin receptors, while inhibiting enzymes that deactivate the receptors. Insulin is the hormone the body needs to move glucose (sugar), the basic fuel we get from digested food, from the blood to the cells to be used for energy. Insulin is produced by the pancreas. One of the major causes of type 2 diabetes is decreased insulin sensitivity, which is called insulin resistance.
"The cinnamon compounds also have antioxidant effects," Reames notes, adding, "Antioxidants have been attributed to preventing cancer, heart disease and other diseases by helping to protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals." Free radicals are produced by normal body functions, such as breathing or physical activity, as well as by smoking, exposure to sunlight and pollutants.
Last year, the researchers reported that less than a half-teaspoon of cinnamon daily for 40 days reduced by about 20 percent the blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels of 60 volunteers in Pakistan with Type 2 diabetes.
"But table cinnamon made from cinnamon bark contains fat-soluble compounds," Reames points out, noting that those compounds may accumulate in the body if ingested consistently as more than a spice over long periods.
The newly defined, water-soluble compounds can, however, be separated from nearly all the fat-soluble, potentially toxic components found in cinnamon bark, according to ARS scientists, who have applied for patents on the compounds in cinnamon responsible for the beneficial effects.
The patent covers the tasteless water-soluble extract responsible for the reactions. The extract could be used to make supplements or as additives in soda and other high-sugar foods.
For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/
Extension/Departments/fcs/. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/Extension
/Departments/fcs/ Agricultural Research magazine: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/
apr04/cinnam0404.htm Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3329, or firstname.lastname@example.org