Cinnamon Spice Against Pounds?
A cinnamon compound stimulates thermogenesis. Explanations and advice.
Why it’s important
Cinnamon is a spice that has already been studied for its benefits against type-2 diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s). It is also known in traditional medicine to treat problems of cough and sore throat. Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, which gives it its characteristic aroma. This molecule protects mice from obesity and hyperglycemia. And in the man?
What the researchers found
To find out the effect of cinnamaldehyde in human cells, the researchers treated human adipocytes with cinnamaldehyde. Adipocytes are cells that store energy in the form of lipids. This fat storage was interesting for our ancestors who could use it when temperatures got colder, converting lipid energy into heat. But today excess stored fat is a problem.
Results: The researchers observed that the cinnamal aldehyde molecule led to an increase in the expression of genes that stimulate lipid metabolism. There was also an increase of two proteins involved in thermogenesis: Ucp1 and Fgf21. Thermogenesis is a process of producing heat to heat the body. In particular, it uses metabolic activation, an interesting way to lose excess fat. The researchers’ observations were confirmed in adipocytes from people of various ages and BMIs. If cinnamaldehyde activates lipid metabolism by thermogenesis, then cinnamon may help combat overweight and obesity.
Further work is needed to know if cinnamon is really useful against overweight and obesity. For now, it is not advisable to absorb large amounts of cinnamon because of possible side effects depending on its origin. Indeed, there are on the market Ceylon cinnamon and “cassia” with differing levels of coumarins, a family of compounds that fluidify the blood. If you consume too much coumarin for too long, there may be a risk of hemorrhage, especially in cardiac patients who are on anticoagulant therapy, or in certain blood clotting diseases. The level of coumarin in Ceylon cinnamon is quite low, and probably safe, whereas in cinnamon cassia it is higher and therefore carries potential risks. For these reasons, we advise to avoid consuming a lot of “cassia”. The problem is that most commercial cinnamon is “cassia” for cost reasons. So if you plan to consume cinnamon regularly, it is better to buy a product that clearly identifies the plant, or question the companies that market it.