Saving calories can often be accomplished with a little creativity. For example, swapping the cream and sugar (roughly an ounce or 2 tablespoons) with a teaspoon of cinnamon could save up to 70 calories per cup-o-Joe. Looks like this special spice may change the standard coffee routine.
Spice Up Your Life—The Takeaway
One study found just half a teaspoon of cinnamon per day can significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Khan, A., Safdar, M., Ali Khan, MM., et al. Department of Human Nutrition, NWFP Agricultural University, Peshawar, Pakistan. Diabetes Care, 2003 Dec;26(12):3215-8.. But for those who don't have to worry so seriously about insulin levels, cinnamon has also been shown to have many other benefits:
- Cinnamon can slow the speed at which the stomach empties following a meal, which can help control sharp rises and falls in blood sugar levels Effects of 1 and 3 g cinnamon on gastric emptying, satiety, and postprandial blood glucose, insulin, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, glucagon-like peptide 1, and ghrelin concentrations in healthy subjects. Hlebowicz, J., Hlebowicz, A., Lindstedt, S., et al. Department of Medicine, Malmo University Hospital, Sweden. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009 Mar; 89(3):815-21.. Softening these sugar spikes can theoretically reduce cravings. Effects of 1 and 3 g cinnamon on gastric emptying, satiety, and postprandial blood glucose, insulin, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, glucagon-like peptide 1, and ghrelin concentrations in healthy subjects. Hlebowicz, J., Hlebowicz, A., Lindstedt, S., et al. Department of Medicine, Malmo University Hospital, Sweden. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009 Mar; 89(3):815-21..
- Cinnamon can enhance the way antioxidants from other foods help the body defend itself, strengthening the immune system Antioxidant effects of a cinnamon extract in people with impaired fasting glucose that are overweight or obese. Roussel, AM., Hininger, I., Benaraba, R. INSERM, U884, LBFA, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2009 Feb;28(1):16-21..
- Additional suggested health benefits include relieving congestion, reducing stiffness in muscles and joints, counteracting inflammation, supporting digestive health, and even boosting brain function. This super spice has also been shown to stimulate good circulation with its blood-thinning properties Glycated haemoglobin and blood pressure-lowering effect of cinnamon in multi-ethnic Type 2 diabetic patients in the UK: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Akilen, R., Tsiami, A., Devendra, D., et al. Faculty of Health and Human Science, Thames Valley University, London. Diabetic Medicine, 2010 Oct;27(10):1159-67..
Want another reason to sprinkle some cinnamon in coffee? That other coffee sweetener—sugar—has been linked to weight gain, diabetes, and may even be "toxic" Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. MB, Schulze., Manson, JE., Ludwig, DS., et al. Department of Nutrition. Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2004 Aug 25;292(8):927-34.. Just another reason for cinnamon and coffee to band together!
Still, there are some reasons to be wary. Many of the studies on the subject were conducted on mice, not humans, so it's unclear how well their benefits carry over. And while it might be nice to try something new in that morning cup of coffee, a teaspoon of cinnamon doesn't exactly taste the same as cream and sugar. Some may like it more and others less, but this (quite picky) Greatist taste-tester and coffee-lover actually enjoyed mixing it up a bit. With no sugar and a pinch of spice, my cup of coffee was still everything nice.
Replace cream and sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon in coffee to save 70+ calories per cup and add a potential metabolism boost.
Updated December 2011