People who love sprinkling cinnamon on their hot chocolate will like this bit of news – the spice may help burn lipids, researchers say.
Cinnamaldehyde (CA) is an essential oil found in cinnamon that gives it its distinct flavor, Newsweek reports. Previous studies have found that cinnamaldehyde is able to protect mice from obesity and hypoglycemia, so scientists from Michigan decided to find out if the same compound works on human fat cells by conducting several experiments.
The researchers gathered human adipose stem cells from several donors of various ages, ethnicities, and weights. These adipose stem cells would have turned into fat cells had they stayed inside a human body. Called adipocytes, these fat cells store energy in the form of lipids when the human body is stationary and burn them when the body exercises.
The team found that the human adipose stem cells and mouse fat cells they also tested and treated with CA began to go through thermogenesis, or started heating up. The addition of CA jump-started the metabolic process, and the heat helped the cells burn off the lipids. The results of the study supported research showing that CA does have an anti-obesity effect.
Since cinnamon is a common ingredient, it would be easy to see a future where the spice can replace other anti-obesity treatments, researchers noted, if CA can indeed be turned in a therapeutic form.
The researchers do emphasize that these findings are in mice and human cells, not actual human beings. And while the CA in cinnamon might help in burning lipids, there have not been any studies in people regarding the potential benefits, as well as possible side effects, of ingesting the compound.
In small doses, cinnamon is safe for human consumption. People have been using the spice in dishes for thousands of years, so if CA becomes a ready treatment for weight loss, it is likely to be easily accepted.
The study was published in Metabolism.