Cinnamon Makes More Than Your Mouth Heat Up2 months, 3 weeks ago
Posted on Nov 29, 2017, 9 a.m.
New research from the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute suggests that cinnamon may be beneficial in the fight against obesity.
Cinnamaldehyde, an essential oil that gives cinnamon its flavor, has been observed by scientists previously to appear to protect mice against hyperglycemia and obesity, however the mechanisms underlying the effect were not well understood. Researchers in the lab of Jun Wu, research assistant professor at the LSI and an assistant professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the U-M Medical School wanted to better understand to determine if it might be protective to humans as well. Scientists were finding the compound affected metabolism, so we wanted to figure it out says Wu. Their findings in the journal of Metabolism December issue indicate cinnamaldehyde improves metabolic health by acting directly on fat cells, inducing them to start burning energy through a process called thermogenesis.
Human adipocytes were tested from volunteers representing a range of ages, ethnicities and body mass indices by Wu and her colleagues. Researchers noticed increased expression of several genes and enzymes that enhance lipid metabolism in the cells were treated with cinnamaldehyde, also observed was an increase in Ucp1 and Fgf21, which are important metabolic regulatory proteins involved in thermogenesis.
Adipocytes normally store energy in the form of lipids, which was beneficial to our ancestors who had less access to high fat foods needing the long term fat storage for times of harsh environment and scarcity, that induced adipocytes to convert stored energy into heat. Researchers such Wu have been looking for ways to prompt fat cells to activate thermogenesis, turning those fat-burning processes back on to fight obesity. Wu believes that cinnamaldehyde may be an activation method, but cautions more study is needed to determine the best method to use this process without causing adverse side effects.
- Juan Jiang, Margo P. Emont, Heejin Jun, Xiaona Qiao, Jiling Liao, Dong-il Kim, Jun Wu. Cinnamaldehyde induces fat cell-autonomous thermogenesis and metabolic reprogramming. Metabolism, 2017; 77: 58 DOI: 10.1016/j.metabol.2017.08.006