Cinnamon and other spices to lower cholesterol: does it work?

Some people take cinnamon supplements to lower their cholesterol. Although some studies suggest that cinnamon has a cholesterol-lowering effect, there is no conclusive evidence. Diet and lifestyle changes may be more effective for people with high cholesterol. This article looks at the effects of cinnamon on cholesterol, how a person can lower their cholesterol, and when to see a doctor.

What is cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a type of spice. There are several types of cinnamon. They come from different species of cinnamon tree. the most common type of cinnamon sold is cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is grown in Southeast Asia. Cinnamon comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree. It can be in the form of powder or sticks of dried bark. Additionally, people sometimes take cinnamon as a dietary supplement. People use cinnamon in sweet and savory foods. Countries like China, India, and Iran have also used cinnamon in traditional medicine.

Does cinnamon lower cholesterol levels?

There is some controversy over cinnamon’s ability to lower cholesterol levels. Below we take a look at what cholesterol is and what the research says about cinnamon’s effect on cholesterol.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a substance that the body uses to build cells and make vitamins and hormones. A person’s liver makes all the cholesterol it needs. The body also absorbs cholesterol from the foods it eats. Lipoproteins carry cholesterol through a person’s bloodstream. Two types of lipoproteins transport cholesterol. Experts sometimes refer to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) as “good” cholesterol because it transports cholesterol to the liver. The liver then removes it from the body. Low density lipoproteins (LDL) are called “bad” cholesterol. They can build up in a person’s arteries and cause blockages. These blockages can cause health problems, such as a heart attack or stroke.

Research on the effects of cinnamon on cholesterol

A 2017 study looked at the effects of cinnamon on people with metabolic syndrome. We speak of metabolic syndrome when a person suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
Researchers found that after 16 weeks, participants who took 3 grams (g) of cinnamon supplements daily had:

a decrease in weight
a decrease in LDL levels
higher HDL levels
a reduction in total cholesterol
These improvements were more significant in people who took cinnamon supplements than in those who did not. The researchers note, however, that more studies are needed to examine these effects.

The researchers also gave the participants healthy diets to follow and encouraged them to exercise. Also, the researchers did not mention the type of cinnamon used.
A 2021 research review looked at various studies on the effects of cinnamon on cholesterol. Reviewers found several studies concluding that cinnamon helped lower LDL cholesterol in people with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The reviewers also noted that in a study conducted on healthy participants, LDL levels were reduced after 3 months of treatment with increasing levels of cinnamon. However, HDL levels did not improve. Another study in healthy participants found no difference in cholesterol levels between people taking cinnamon and those not taking it.
Another study in the review found no difference in cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes after daily treatment with 1 g of cinnamon for 3 months.

People wishing to lower their cholesterol levels should consult their doctor before changing their diet. Supplements should never be used in place of prescription medications.

Spices that help lower cholesterol

People claim that various spices can help lower a person’s cholesterol level. There is evidence that the following spices can help improve a person’s cholesterol level. However, these spices should not be used in place of prescribed medications.

Ginger

A 2018 study found that taking 5g of raw ginger daily for 3 months reduced LDL levels in people with high cholesterol. However, the study size was quite small, so more research is needed to confirm these effects.

Capsaicin

A 2022 study looked at the effects of capsaicin on cholesterol. Capsaicin is a component of peppers. The reviewers found that eight of the nine studies they looked at showed that capsaicin reduced LDL levels in people with metabolic syndrome. However, the reviewers also found that eight out of nine studies indicated that capsaicin had no effect on HDL.

Garlic

Research from 2016 investigated the effects of garlic and lemon juice on cholesterol. Researchers noted that people with high cholesterol had reduced LDL and total cholesterol levels after taking 20g of garlic and one teaspoon of lemon juice daily for 8 weeks. However, people who took garlic and lemon juice and those in the other groups who took garlic or lemon juice only had an increase in HDL levels. The researchers note that further studies on these effects are needed.

Turmeric

A 2017 review looked at the effects of turmeric and its component, curcumin, on cholesterol. The reviewers found seven studies that claimed turmeric and curcumin could reduce LDL levels in people at risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, the reviewers suggested that further studies should be undertaken on these effects.

How to Lower Cholesterol

A person can lower their cholesterol levels by changing their lifestyle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source gives the following advice to someone who wants to lower their cholesterol levels:

Limit saturated fat: Reduce your intake of foods high in saturated fat, such as cheese, dairy products, fatty meats and tropical oils, such as palm oil.

Eat a healthy diet: For a balanced and nutritious diet, choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, salt and added sugar, such as fruits and vegetables.

Add fiber to your diet: Eat foods that are naturally high in fiber, such as oatmeal and beans.

Consume unsaturated fats: Foods that contain unsaturated fats include avocados and nuts.

Lose weight if necessary: ​​If necessary, lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight. It can reduce blood cholesterol and blood pressure.

Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help people maintain a healthy weight.

Quit smoking: Smoking can damage blood vessels, harden arteries and increase the risk of heart disease.

Limit your alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can raise cholesterol levels.

A doctor may also prescribe medications to lower cholesterol, such as statins.

Summary

Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the bark of the cinnamon tree. Some research suggests that cinnamon may improve cholesterol levels. However, more research is needed to assess the effect of cinnamon on cholesterol. A person should never use cinnamon or other supplements in place of prescribed medications.

People claim that various other spices can improve cholesterol levels. However, these effects need more studies before they can be confirmed. A person can lower their cholesterol levels by changing their lifestyle. Also, a doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications for people with high cholesterol. High cholesterol does not cause any symptoms. This means that a person should have their cholesterol levels checked by a doctor every 4 to 6 years.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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