Have you heard that the spice cinnamon could help improve your blood sugar levels and PCOS?
Are you wondering if there is any truth to the claims behind cinnamon? Find out in this blog post the latest scientific evidence behind cinnamon specifically for women with PCOS.
I’m giving you 3 reasons why you should spice up your life with cinnamon!
(1) Cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels and has a positive effect on insulin resistance
What exactly is insulin resistance and why should you care?
Insulin is a hormone released by the body to take glucose (sugar) out of the bloodstream and into our cells to be used as energy! Your brain, muscles and in fact every cell in your body is fuelled by glucose – so it’s pretty important to get it to the right places.
Insulin resistance is when your body starts ignoring the signal from insulin, meaning more glucose is left in the bloodstream. Insulin resistance can lead to prediabetes/diabetes, it is also more common in women with PCOS. It can also make it harder to shift the kilos or pounds and can also increase your blood pressure and triglycerides (fat in the blood).
One study looked at 15 women with PCOS who were assigned to either take daily
cinnamon supplements or placebo for 8 weeks. After the 8 weeks, women taking the cinnamon saw a significant reduction in their insulin resistance (Wang et al., 2007). This result was not seen in women who took the placebo.
This is a very small study though, so we have to be careful not to overstate the findings, but it is looking promising and cinnamon is a delicious spice to incorporate into your diet!
(2) Cinnamon may help women restore regular menstruation cycles
Some women with PCOS may have irregular periods, in fact it is one of the 3 diagnostic criteria you might have to meet to receive the diagnosis. This is often a result of high androgen levels (male hormones) and excess insulin, many women with PCOS may experience irregular periods or not get them at all, which isn’t helpful when trying to conceive.
Another study looking at women with PCOS assigned women to receive cinnamon supplementation or placebo for 6 months. After 6 months, they found that women taking the cinnamon supplement had more regular period cycles! (Kort & Lobo, 2014)
Cinnamon may be an effective way to help women with PCOS to have regular periods!
(3) Cinnamon may improve cholesterol levels of women with PCOS
One study looked at women with PCOS who were above the healthy weight range. Again, these women were either assigned to take cinnamon supplements or placebo for 8 weeks.
Women taking cinnamon supplements saw a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and an increase in HDL-cholesterol (“good” cholesterol”) (Borzoei et al., 2018). To put it simply, this research suggests that cinnamon could improve your heart health! Interestingly, women taking cinnamon also found a decrease in their weight at the end of the eight weeks.
Based on some of the new research in this area, it looks like cinnamon can be a useful way to manage certain issues women with PCOS commonly experience such as cholesterol, heart health, weight and blood glucose management.
Here are a few ways you can add cinnamon to your PCOS diet
- Try sprinkling ½ tsp of ground cinnamon into your oats
- Add to a smoothie.
- Season sweet potato, pumpkin or carrots with cinnamon and a little honey before oven-roasting to bring out the natural sweetness.
- Add to banana bread, crumbles or other baked goods.
If you want to know more about PCOS and the role diet can play check out my other blogs Eating for PCOS and Eating for PCOS Part 2. I’ve also looked at popular supplements to help manage PCOS, have a read of Do these 4 popular supplements help manage PCOS.
Need help managing your PCOS using diet? Speak to an expert fertility and women’s health dietitian and nutritionist in a free 15 minute discovery call to learn how I can support you with scientific nutrition changes that work!
This blog was co-written by Jessica Perrone, a final year Master of Nutrition and Dietetics student at The University of Sydney. You can find Jess on Instagram @nutritionby_jessperrone and on LinkedIn.