There is no spice that evokes the Christmas spirit quite like cinnamon, scientifically proven to be the most Christmassy smell in the world. In addition to being delicious and getting you into the holiday spirit, cinnamon has another added benefit: It can help you lose weight!
According to new research published in the journal Metabolism, your favorite cappuccino topping can boost metabolism in human fat cells because of cinnamaldehyde — the essential oil that gives cinnamon it’s wonderful taste and scent.
“Scientists were finding that this compound affected metabolism,” said Jun Wu, assistant professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the University of Michigan Medical School and lead author of the study. “So we wanted to figure out how — what pathway might be involved, what it looked like in mice and what it looked like in human cells.”
Researchers took human fat cells called adipocytes and treated them with the cinnamon oil, which set off the calorie-burning process of thermogenesis. More specifically, the cinnamon oil triggered activity of several fat metabolism-enhancing genes, enzymes and proteins.
In other words, the cinnamon is helping burn fat! Which is awesome, considering this is the season of excess (ain’t no shame in it, either).
According to a companion article published in Michigan News, those adipocyte fat cells commonly store energy in lipid form, a long-term fat-storage method that worked great for our ancestors when high-fat food wasn’t readily available — but it’s not so great for us living in modern times.
“It’s only been relatively recently that energy surplus has become a problem,” Wu said. “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.”
And that’s where delicious cinnamaldehyde comes in. It could replace traditional drug regimens as a natural trigger for this fat-burning process, which would be significant, considering the obesity epidemic we are currently dealing with.
“Cinnamon has been part of our diets for thousands of years, and people generally enjoy it,” Wu said. “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.”
So how much cinnamon do you have to consume to reap weight-loss benefits? Wu believes a little bit here and there won’t show immediate results, but consistency is key to achieving the maximum benefits of this wonder spice.
“If you eat it every day, we suspect there will be a cumulative effect and that over time you will achieve these benefits. If you already eat a lot of it, carry on. And if it’s not something you use regularly, now is a great time to start.”
Sounds good to us! So go ahead and put up those holiday decorations, decorate the tree and put cinnamon on just about everything you can possibly think of.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you consume a lot of cinnamon? Will this latest research encourage you to up your cinnamon intake? What are your favorite ways to consume it?