Cinnamon and Cholesterol Lowering Studies
Cinnamon is a sweet treat that can be added to everything from main dishes, desserts and beverages too, in order to impart a unique and delightful flavor. It has been used for centuries medicinally as a treatment for everything from inflammation to yeast infections. With the ever rising rate of people plagued with higher than desirable levels of bad cholesterol it is no wonder that in modern science, the relationship between cinnamon and cholesterol has begun to be explored. Studies are premature at best, however some of them indicate that like garlic and turmeric, cinnamon may be able to lower cholesterol naturally. It contains compounds like cinnemaldehyde, cinnamyl alcohol and cinnamyl acetate that are thought to be responsible for its multitude of health benefits, according to The World’s Healthiest Foods.
The way in which cinnamon may help lower cholesterol is not as cut and dry as some other purported herbal remedies. Unlike the ginger cholesterol connection or that related to artichoke extracts, the route to lower LDL via cholesterol is not as clear. The relationship between cinnamon and cholesterol may in fact be more related to digestion than it is LDL production. The World’s Healthiest Foods explains that cinnamon contains manganese as well as calcium. When combined with the naturally occurring fiber contained therein, a more expeditious expulsion of bile salts can be achieved as the calcium and fiber bind to them naturally. This bile removal may force the body to break down its cholesterol reserves, and in turn, potentially reduce cholesterol numbers.
With this very indirect approach to LDL reduction, it is perhaps unsurprising that cinnamon has not made its way into mainstream supplements to lower cholesterol yet. And, unfortunately, the conflicting evidence found in studies have thus far managed to produce little solid evidence that cinnamon and cholesterol reduction are in fact related. While one promising trial in Pakistan showed that levels of bad cholesterol were reduced between 7% and 27% in diabetic subjects, the results have yet to be replicated, according to NYU Langone. In addition to the lack of subsequent positive studies achieving the same results, the doses provided to persons involved in the Pakistan study were not consistent across all participating individuals. This is confusing because it suggests that either the dose of cinnamon is irrelevant to yielding cholesterol lowering benefits; or, that something else was at work that caused the lowering of total cholesterol, LDL levels and blood sugar levels simultaneously.
Cinnamon may change the way in which sugars and fats are processed within the body and that in turn, this may have an impact on cholesterol levels. However, they also caution that evidence of this theory is limited at best and that at this time, cinnamon is not considered useful for lowering cholesterol or as a useful additive to cholesterol lowering supplements. However, as evidenced by an article in the Boston Globe, the early study has gotten the medical community excited about the potential uses of cinnamon. Interviewees of the article showed enthusiasm for the cinnamon and cholesterol connection, noting that phenomenons like the herb’s ability to maintain positive healthful effects for periods of up to twenty days were unusual and fascinating.
Because of the very limited amount of research that has been conducted in order to link cinnamon and cholesterol, it is still simply too early to determine whether or not it can be considered one of the many useful herbs for cholesterol found in nature. However, as the powerful compounds found in the plant are further explored, it is possible that soon flavoring your coffee or tea or spicing up a dessert may also be indirectly affecting your cholesterol levels for the better. In the mean time, there is little to no risk of enjoying cinnamon, although it is worth noting that large intakes of the spice can produce some unpleasant effects and very large doses may even be toxic to some people, like those that have liver conditions, according to WebMD.
Cinnamon and cholesterol may be related, and this may be proven in future studies. However, instead of looking to cinnamon to be the next best supplement to lower cholesterol, perhaps instead consider it a healthy addition to an overall lifestyle change to naturally reduce cholesterol levels. Without a dedicated and healthful approach to lowering LDL levels, even the best supplement to lower cholesterol will be rendered ineffective. Exercising more, avoiding smoking and eating a heart healthy diet that incorporates fresh foods, a low fat intake and an increase in healthy fiber are all just as important as supplement use to reducing the overall risk of heart disease and heart attacks in the long term.