Cinnamon's Turning the Heat Up on Fat Cells

Cinnamon's Turning the Heat Up on Fat Cells

By Lucy Clark, wlr

Key Takeaways

  • Essential oil cinnamaldehyde – found in cinnamon – improves metabolic health
  • Cinnamon may help protect against obesity

New research from the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan has found that the common Christmas spice cinnamon may aid the fight against obesity.

The study

Testing began on mice when they were given cinnamaldehyde, an essential oil that gives cinnamon its flavor. The cinnamaldehyde protected mice against obesity and hyperglycemia.

Volunteers representing a variety of ages, ethnicities, and body mass indices were also treated with cinnamaldehyde, the same as the mice.

What did they find?

When the human cells were treated, researchers noticed an increase of several genes and enzymes that enhance lipid metabolism, the break down or storage of fats for energy.

An increase in Ucp1 and Fg21 were also observed, these are important metabolic regulatory protein involved in thermogenesis.

Thermogenesis is the process that burns fat into energy.

Long-term fat storage was beneficial for our distant ancestors, who had less access to high-fat foods and would use fat as storage.

This fat would then be used by the body in times of scarcity or in very cold temperatures.

Jun Wu, the lead researcher explains that it has “only been relatively recently that energy surplus has become a problem.”

With obesity rising, researchers like Wu have been searching for ways to prompt fat cells to activate thermogenesis, to help turn those fat burning processes back on.

Wu believes that cinnamaldehyde may offer an activation method,

“Cinnamon has been part of our diet for thousands of years and people generally enjoy it.”

“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.”

As it is already used so much within the food industry, it may be easier to convince patients to stick to a cinnamon-based treatment than traditional drugs.

What you can do

Try adding a little more cinnamon to your diet!

Although, don’t go too crazy.

Further studies do need to be carried out in order to determine how to best harness the essential oils within cinnamon, without causing adverse effects.

WLR have a variety of tasty recipes with a little and a lot of cinnamon, all under 250 calories each - take a look and try some for yourself!

Pickled Pears

Pickled Pears

1 stick of cinnamon - 181 calories - View Recipe

Christmas Shortbread Stars

2 tbsp of cinnamon - 63 calories - View Recipe

Apple and Cinnamon Muffins

1 tsp of cinnamon - 175 calories - View Recipe

Low GI Cinnamon French Toast

½ tsp of cinnamon - 201 calories - View Recipe

Masala Lamb Kebabs

½ tsp of cinnamon - 154 calories - View Recipe

Christmas Cake

Christmas Pudding

1g cinnamon - 219 calories - View Recipe

Parsnip and Apple Soup

¾ tsp of cinnamon - 138 calories - View Recipe

Apple, Sultana and Cinnamon Porridge

1 tsp of cinnamon - 242 calories - View Recipe

Low GI Cranberry and Cinnamon Bran Muffins

1 tsp of cinnamon - 175 calories - View Recipe

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Wu, Jun et al. Cinnamaldehyde induces fat cell-autonomous thermogenesis and metabolic reprogramming. Metabolism Journal. Dec 2017. 

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