Cinnamon makes fat cells burn energy

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In Michigan, University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute researchers found that the essential oil that flavors cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde, improves metabolic health by acting directly on fat cells, inducing them to start burning energy through a process called thermogenesis.

“Scientists were finding that this compound affected metabolism,” said Jun Wu, research assistant professor at the LSI and an assistant professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the U-M Medical School. “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 her colleagues tested human fat cells from volunteers representing a range of ages, ethnicities and body mass indices.  When the cells were treated with cinnamaldehyde, the researchers noticed increased expression of several genes and enzymes that enhance lipid metabolism. They also observed an increase in two important metabolic regulatory proteins involved in thermogenesis.