Spice Things Up: Cinnamon Signals Fat Cells to Burn More Calories

Coffee with cinnamon
 Siarhei Kelnik / EyeEm / Getty Images

We’ve long known that lots of spices are loaded with antioxidants and other plant compounds that work to lessen inflammation in the body. Some spices can even help prevent chronic ailments like diabetes and heart disease. Among those great spices? Cinnamon.

The fall favorite which has long been known to fight bad microbes and help control blood sugar, has oils in the bark called cinnamadehyde that have been shown to help turn on fat cells’ metabolism, says a recent study from the University of Michigan.

For the study, researchers tested how fat cells (aka adipocytes) reacted to a solution made from cinnamadehyde, in an effort to see if the cinnamon compound could affect the cells’ fat-burning process. They noticed that the oil turned on several genes and enzymes related to revving up fat metabolism, and that some proteins tied to thermogenesis also increased.

Because cinnamon is already a widely used natural food source, the scientists hope it could be part of a weight-reduction effort to strike back against the obesity crisis.

“Cinnamon has been part of our diets for thousands of years, and people generally enjoy it,” said study lead Jun Wu, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at the the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute. “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.”

Just make sure the cinnamon isn’t all coming from your daily applie pie intake.