‘Tis the season for looking for the best way to avoid holiday weight gain, and there’s one flavor you’ll find this season that could help balance that overindulgence. If you’re a fan of cinnamon, a new study has good news for your waistline.
A recent study found that when rats paired high-fat foods with cinnamon, they weighed less and had less belly fat than the rodents that didn’t take cinnamon supplements. Other studies suggest cinnamaldehyde, the essential oil that gives cinnamon its flavor, helps mice eat less and ward off weight gain, but researchers weren’t sure if it would hold true for humans—until now.
University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute researchers treated human fat cell samples with cinnamaldehyde, and their findings in the journal Metabolism have some promising findings.
Frustrating as it is, your body is designed to start storing energy in the form of fat as soon as possible. For our ancestors, storing fat meant keeping warm and having more energy when times got tough, says study co-author Jun Wu, PhD. “It’s only been relatively recently that energy surplus has become a problem,” she says in a statement. “Throughout evolution, the opposite—energy deficiency—has been the problem. So any energy-consuming process usually turns off the moment the body doesn’t need it.” Check out these other 17 ways to get over a weight-loss plateau.
The trick, then, is keeping your metabolism going so your body doesn’t resort to fat storage—and that’s where cinnamon comes in. This new research discovered that cells treated with cinnamaldehyde started expressing more metabolism-boosting genes and enzymes. The cinnamon compound prompted fat cells to keep on burning instead of going into storage, so the researchers think it could help fight against obesity. Don’t miss these other 14 foods that burn away stubborn fat.
Even if you aren’t worried about your weight, study after study totes the benefits of cinnamon. Other research suggests cinnamon could help ward off Alzheimer’s, boost learning ability, and cut risk of diabetes. Weight loss is just one more reason to start sprinkling on the good stuff.
More research needs to be done before scientists know how much weight you could actually lose just from a hefty shake of cinnamon, says Dr. Wu. Until then, a little spice can’t hurt, as long as you keep the rest of your diet in check. An eggnog latte is packed with sugar, but a dash of cinnamon in your everyday cup of coffee could be a healthy (and tasty) treat. You could also add it to this expert-approved breakfast that burns fat all day.