Cinnamaldehyde is an essential oil that helps give the spice its distinctive flavour and has been proven to protect mice against obesity in previous studies.
Now, researchers at the University of Michigan have claimed that the oil also activates thermogenesis - a metabolic bodily process which burns calories to produce heat.
This process can help kickstart weight loss, leading the study’s authors to conclude cinnamon could boast a series of metabolic benefits.
Lead author Jun Wu, research assistant professor at the Life Sciences Institute, was aware of the benefits of cinnamaldehyde thanks to previous studies and wanted to further examine its effect on the body.
“Scientists were finding that this compound affected metabolism,” he said. “So we wanted to figure out how - what pathway might be involved, what it looked like in mice and what it looked like in human cells.”
Wu and his team tested the fat cells from a range of volunteers and noticed an increased expression of the genes and enzymes that enhance lipid metabolism after they’d been treated with cinnamaldehyde.
This led him to believe that, when ingested by humans, cinnamaldehyde, and therefore cinnamon, could help provoke thermogenesis and subsequent fat-burning processes in the body.
While additional research is required in order to confirm the benefits don’t come with adverse side effects - plus, Wu has thus far only tested his theory on human cells in a laboratory - Wu believes his results are promising in terms of addressing the rising obesity epidemic.
“Cinnamon has been part of our diets for thousands of years, and people generally enjoy it,” Wu said.
“So if it can help protect against obesity, too, it may offer an approach to metabolic health that is easier for patients to adhere to.”