A diet high in fat is considered a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, as it can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and other harmful conditions. New research, however, suggests that it may be possible to offset some of this risk by incorporating cinnamon in the diet.
Researchers found that rats fed a high-fat diet supplemented with cinnamon for 12 weeks gained less weight and abdominal fat and had healthier blood levels of fat, sugar, and insulin, when compared with rodents fed a high-fat diet without cinnamon.
Study co-author Vijaya Juturu, Ph.D., of OmniActive Health Technologies Inc in Morrison, NJ, and colleagues recently presented their findings at the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology/Peripheral Vascular Disease 2017 Scientific Sessions, held in Minneapolis, MN.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, killing around 610,000 people every year.
Diet plays a major role in CVD. An unhealthful diet - such as one high in fat - can cause obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and other conditions that raise the risk of poor cardiovascular health.
According to Juturu, research has shown that cinnamon - a spice derived from the bark of trees from the Cinnamomum genus - contains a polyphenol that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may reduce some of the risk factors for CVD caused by poor diet.
For their study, the researchers set out to investigate whether cinnamon might help to reduce the harms associated with a high-fat diet.
Cinnamon protects against inflammation, oxidative stress
For 12 weeks, the researchers fed rats a high-fat diet supplemented with cinnamon and compared them with rodents that were fed a high-fat diet without the spice (the controls).
The team found that rats whose diets were supplemented with cinnamon weighed less and developed less abdominal fat than those fed a high-fat diet without the spice. Rats fed a high-fat diet with cinnamon also had healthier blood glucose and insulin concentrations, as well as better lipid profiles, than the controls.
Additionally, the researchers found that rats that received cinnamon had fewer molecules associated with the storing of fat, as well as increased levels of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant molecules.
Antioxidants protect against oxidative stress, which is an imbalance of free radicals that has been associated with numerous health conditions, including heart attack and heart disease.
Based on their findings, Juturu and colleagues believe that cinnamon may decrease the damaging effects of a high-fat diet.
The team concludes:
"These results suggest CNM [cinnamon] supplementation reduces hyperlipidemia, inflammation, and oxidative stress through activating transcription factors (SREBP-1c, LXR-α, NF-κB, and Nrf2) and anti-oxidative defense signaling pathway."