The heart is a fist sized organ, which pumps oxygen-rich blood to all tissues of the body. It brings in deoxygenated blood from different tissues and organs to the lungs and pumps oxygenated blood away from the lungs.
Arteries are muscular-walled tubes which perform the function of carrying oxygenated blood from the heart to tissues which are low in oxygen levels.
High BP is known as a ‘Silent Killer’ because it shows no distinct signs or symptoms. But the consequences of prolonged, untreated hypertension are severe and includes disorders such as heart attacks and kidney failure, to name a few.
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Introduction to the superfood, cinnamon
Cinnamon, scientifically known as Cinnamomumzeylanicum, is a spice which is used a condiment, both sweet and spicy. It is extracted from the dried bark of the cinnamon tree and is incorporated in tea, bread, coffee, desserts and milk.
Nutritionally, cinnamon contains calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin K and dietary fibre. It is very low in cholesterol content and is known to have several antioxidants, antifungal and antimicrobial properties. It is one of the oldest known spices which has been used for several health benefits.
This study focusses on the involvement of cinnamon in prevention and management of hypertension
What happened in the study
The primary aim of the study was to establish the role of the cinnamon stem in controlling hypertension (anti-hypertensive activity). The study used extracts of the stem bark of Cinnamomumzeylanicum ( the scientific name for Cinnamon).
The effects of cinnamon were studied using rats as an animal model of hypertension.
The study was divided into two parts,
- To evaluate the effects of the cinnamon extract on acute (short term, rapidly progressing disorder) hypertension.
- To evaluate the effects of cinnamon extract chronic (long lasting disorders) hypertension.
The effect of cinnamon extract on the rats was compared to that of Captopril, a conventional drug used for reducing blood pressure. Also, a control group was maintained, which was treated with distilled water.
Through the span of four weeks, various tests were conducted to assess the effect of cinnamon extract on hypertension
Results of the study
Based on the above-mentioned parameters, the results were recorded.
1. A significant reduction in BP was recorded in the rats which suffered from acute hypertension. There was an average reduction of 12.5%, 26.6% and 30.6% for increasing doses of cinnamon extract.Whereas for the rats suffering from chronic hypertension, the cinnamon extracts were found to be capable of showing a rise in blood pressure.
2. The administration of cinnamon extracts showed a reduction in plasma levels of Triglycerides (38.1%), total cholesterol levels (32.1%), LDL-Cholesterol levels (75.3%) and an increase in the HDL-Cholesterol level (58.4%). It also decreased the atherogenic index (1.4, while that of the control group was 5.3). The atherogenic index indicates to the chances of occurrence of a cardiovascular disease.
3. Observation of the cells concluded that the cinnamon extracts prevented cellular damage.The cinnamon extracts could re-establish the Nitric Oxide content of the tissue.
How did this occur
Nitric oxide is known to be a potent vasodilator. Administration of L-NAME in the rats inhibits the activity of nitric oxide synthase, which is an enzyme involved in the synthesis of Nitric oxide.
This leads to hypertension.
In the study, cinnamon extract could restore the plasma levels of Nitric oxide, thus alleviating the condition of hypertension.
Further, cinnamaldehyde, a compound extracted from cinnamon, was found to have vasodilating effects. The compound expands blood vessels with the help of certain calcium channels in their walls.
Cinnamon is also known to have antioxidant properties. In patients with Type 2 diabetes, hypertension is very common. This is because the excessive glucose levels tend to damage the walls of the arteries.
This leads to the production of free radicals. The antioxidant property of cinnamon comes into play here and scavenges these harmful free radicals.
Another crucial factor is the presence of elevated levels of calcium in cinnamon. Calcium mediates the contraction and relaxation of blood vessels.
Calcium deficiency has been known to be associated with Hypertension. Hence, consumption of cinnamon can help increase calcium levels and reduce the occurrence of hypertension.
What does this mean
Hypertension can occur to anyone due to multiple factors. There are many medicines available in the market, but a significant improvement can be made by including some simple changes in what we eat.
Though there isn’t a set dosage for cinnamon which must be consumed, incorporating around 2-3g of cinnamon is one’s diet can reduce the chances of occurrence and the effects of hypertension.
Read research paper at:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23368533