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Dec 27, 2010

Season Coffee and Cocoa with This Fat-Fighting Spice

Keep your heart strong and help your body get lean by jazzing up your morning beverage with a swirl of cinnamon.
Research suggests that in addition to steadying blood sugar, cinnamon may be particularly healthy for people who carry lots of extra weight. In a study, cinnamon seemed to blast fat and help minimize some of the negative health impacts that obesity has on the body.
Saved by Cinnamon
People who are obese (read body mass index of 30 or higher) tend to have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies, and their bodies tend to experience more oxidative stress than the bodies of slimmer folks. Inflammation and oxidative stress are two very unhappy physical states to be in because they can set the stage for heart disease and other health problems. So in addition to losing weight, finding ways to fight oxidative stress and inflammation is an important part of protecting your heart if you carry around too much weight.
(Know your heart's worst enemies? Get a seven-step action plan for a healthy heart.)
Enter Cinnamon
A recent study showed that certain cinnamon compounds may help obese people in the fight against fat, inflammation, and oxidative stress. In the study, obese people with prediabetes took a cinnamon extract called cinnulin twice a day. At the end of the 12-week study, participants' bodies were experiencing less oxidative stress and their antioxidant defenses against inflammation were heightened. They even lost some fat mass while gaining a bit of lean muscle. Not too shabby for a few shots of cinnamon! Researchers think that cinnulin had such a favorable effect in the study because compounds in the extract may somehow help cells take in sugar and use insulin better -- two things that don't always work so perfectly in people who are obese and have prediabetes.
(Could you have prediabetes? Find out what you need to know about it.)

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