Despite considerable research the evidence around the antidiabetic properties of cinnamon remains equivocal, and this may be due to varietal differences which is an aspect that is understudied. This study systematically compared the anti-hyperglycaemic properties of the four major commercial cinnamon types used around the world (Chinese; Cinnamomum cassia [CC], Indonesian; C. burmanii [IC], Vietnamese; C. loureirii [VC], and Ceylon; C. zeylanicum [SC]). LC-MS analysis showed distinct diffrences in the phytochemical profiles of cinnamon with SC showing the lowest coumarin concentration. CC and IC had the highest polyphenol levels and antioxidant potential, and all four types differed significantly in their content (P < 0.001). All cinnamon types showed potent species-specific effects on starch digestion enzyme activity inhibition (P < 0.001), CC was most effective against α-amylase and all four strongly inhibited α-glucosidase compared to acarbose. Cinnamon significantly reduced starch breakdown during oral (P = 0.006) and gastric (P = 0.029) phases of gastro-intestinal digestion with IC and SC showing consistent effects. No effects of cinnamon were seen in the intestinal phase. IC, VC and SC showed the greatest potential to inhibit formation of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) during digestion. In conclusion, cinnamon demonstrates anti-hyperglycaemic properties, however effects are species-specific with best overall properties seen for Ceylon cinnamon.
Keywords: Anti-diabetic; Cinnamon; Enzyme inhibition; Species; Starch digestibility.