In these days that separate us from Christmas, the festive air is impregnated with fascinating aromas, among which cinnamon stands out. But cinnamon is not only an essential ingredient for cookies, sweets or fruit salads, it is also an essential ingredient for our health! In fact, as emerged from scientific research of a few years ago, cinnamon and its active ingredient, cinnamaldehyde, counteract obesity by stimulating the body to burn more fat. The study was published in the journal Metabolism by a team of scientists from the University of Michigan (Jiang et al, Metabolism, 2017).
How obesity arises
Our body uses the accumulation of fat as an energy reserve. This is a legacy of when humans suffered from hunger and cold and did not have easy access to food. In this way, when needed, in times of famine, the body could have access to its energy supplies by converting the accumulated fats into heat. However, now this problem no longer arises, at least in many parts of the world, where, indeed, at present the problem is really the opposite. In fact, the great ease of access to food causes accumulations of fat that increase more and more, creating the scourge of our times, obesity. Hence the importance of a healthy and varied diet and moderate physical exercise. Spices can also contribute to the fight against obesity. For example, thanks to the research we are talking about today we now know that cinnamon is a valuable ally against overweight and obesity.
The fat-burning action of cinnamon, the experiment
Thanks to previous research, the anti-obesity action of cinnamon on mice was already known. However, little was known about its action on humans and the mechanism by which this spice is able to fight obesity. In order to understand this, the American scientists performed a series of laboratory experiments in which they put in contact cells of the adipose tissue of obese people with cinnamaldehyde, the active ingredient that gives cinnamon aroma and properties. Well, what has emerged is that cinnamaldehyde acts directly on adipocytes, which are the cells of adipose tissue, stimulating them to burn accumulated fats to produce energy and heat. This process is called thermogenesis. In particular, by analyzing the cells treated with the active ingredient of cinnamon, the scientists observed an increase in enzymes capable of increasing lipid metabolism. Not only that, the proteins involved in thermogenesis such as thermogenin, or Ucp1, and fibroblast growth factor 21, or FGF21, were also increased.
Therefore, cinnamon is not only a fragrant spice with a delicious aroma, but also a valuable ally in the fight against obesity. However, you shouldn't overdo it and include large quantities of this spice in your diet from now on. Like any food, excess must always be avoided. A pinch of cinnamon in yogurt or on fruit salad, to enrich a hot chocolate, a dessert and a sauce, you can certainly include cinnamon in your diet, but taking care to maintain a healthy, varied and balanced nutrition.