NEW YORK: Looking for ways to shed those extra kilos? Cinnamon, a common spice for the home, can help you lose weight and improve metabolism by making fat cells burn energy, according to a study.
The findings showed that cinnamaldehyde, an essential oil that gives cinnamon its flavor, improves metabolic health by acting directly on fat cells, or adipocytes, inducing them to begin to burn energy through a process called thermogenesis.
“Cinnamon has been part of our diets for thousands of years, and people in general enjoy it,” said Jun Wu, an assistant professor of research at the University of Michigan.
“So, if it can also help protect against obesity, it can offer a metabolic health approach that is easier for patients to meet,” Wu said.
And since it’s already widely used in the food industry, it could be easier to convince patients to stick to a cinnamon-based treatment than to a traditional medication regimen, Wu noted.
In the study, which appears in the journal Metabolism, when human cells were treated with cinnamaldehyde, there was a peak in the expression of several genes and enzymes that improve lipid metabolism.
An increase in Ucp1 and Fgf21, important metabolic regulatory proteins involved in thermogenesis, was also observed, the researchers said.
Adipocytes normally store energy in the form of lipids, which can then be used by the body in times of scarcity or in cold temperatures, to induce adipocytes to convert stored energy into heat, a process used by our distant ancestors, who had much less access to high-fat foods and, therefore, a much greater need to store fat.
However, with the growing epidemic of obesity, researchers have been looking for ways to cause fat cells to activate thermogenesis, re-igniting those fat burning processes.
“Cinnamaldehyde can offer one of those activation methods,” Wu said.