The Health Benefits of... Food
 

Many of us have heard the adage 'Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food" attributed to Hippocrates (ca. 400 BC). In the past century however, what is deemed 'food" and 'medicine" has changed dramatically. Reading food labels now requires at least one advanced degree just to pronounce the added ingredients. This month, we highlight the health-improving properties of two food ingredients that are known mostly for their flavor- cinnamon and chocolate.

Clinical Trial completed with Cinnamon extract used in Fenunol
Researchers at the USDA have been looking into the glucose regulatory properties of a number of common spices, including cinnamon, for many years. Previous evidence suggests that cinnamon improves glucose regulation in patients with Type 2 diabetes. New and promising data suggests that Cinnulin PF, a proprietary aqueous cinnamon extract standardized for doubly-linked type-A polymers, decreases fasting blood sugar levels and small but statistically significant changes in body fat and lean mass in otherwise healthy pre-diabetic men and women. This suggests that cinnamon may be an excellent candidate for improving insulin sensitivity and glucose utilization for nearly 25% of the US population (those with metabolic syndrome) For complete details on this trial, please see the poster presented at Supply Side West. [Link]

Anti-diabetic effect of cinnamon extract on blood glucose in db/db mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Oct 3
Antidiabetic effect of Cinnamomum cassia and Cinnamomum zeylanicum in vivo and in vitro. Phytother Res. 2005 Mar;19(3):203-6.
Cinnamon extract prevents the insulin resistance induced by a high-fructose diet. Horm Metab Res. 2004 Feb;36(2):119-25.
The hypoglycaemic activity of fenugreek seed extract is mediated through the stimulation of an insulin signalling pathway. Br J Pharmacol. 2005 Sep;146(1):41-8.
Biochemical study of the anti-diabetic action of the Egyptian plants Fenugreek and Balanites. Mol Cell Biochem. 2006 Jan;281(1-2):173-83.

Dark Chocolate- Good for the Heart

Chocoholics have been receiving good news lately, as more research confirms the benefits of cocoa and the chocolate products made from cocoa. Researchers have found dark chocolate has the most benefit, while milk and white chocolate have little effect. Recently, a group in Switzerland published their findings in 25 'healthy" smokers, where they measured endothelial (inner lining of blood vessels) function by flow-mediated dilation (FMD) two hours after ingesting either dark (74% cocoa) or white (4% cocoa) chocolate. FMD improved statistically in subjects consuming dark chocolate while shear stress-dependent platelet adhesion was reduced, compared to subjects consuming white chocolate. Total antioxidant status also improved in the dark chocolate group. [Abstract]

We are likely to see much more research on various polyphenolic components found in cocoa and chocolate. Certainly, recruiting for long-term studies should not be difficult.
Cocoa reduces blood pressure and insulin resistance and improves endothelium-dependent vasodilation in hypertensives. Hypertension. 2005 Aug;46(2):398-405.
Effect of dark chocolate on arterial function in healthy individuals. Am J Hypertens. 2005 Jun;18(6):785-91.
Suppressive effect of cocoa powder on atherosclerosis in Kurosawa and Kusanagi-hypercholesterolemic rabbits. J Atheroscler Thromb. 2005;12(1):20-8.