In Greek ”cinnamon” means sweet wood, which explains its characteristic sweet flavor.
Cinnamon, comes from the inner bark of the evergreen tropical trees. It's often used in the food industry and in dessert recipes for flavoring.
Whole cinnamon, as well as its volatile oils, find use in natural medicine. There are many varieties of cinnamon. Among them, True or Ceylon cinnamon and the Chinese or Cassia Cinnamon are the most used.
Ceylon AKA True Cinnamon
Ceylon cinnamon comes from Srilanka, India, Madagascar and Caribbean. This has a mild and sweet flavor. This type of cinnamon is often used in Indian cuisine and desserts.
This comes from China, and it is intense, spicy and has a bitter flavor. This variety is common in the United States. Often, Saigon cinnamon or other non-Ceylon varieties sell under the name cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is cheaper than the Ceylon cinnamon.
Ceylon Vs Cassia Cinnamon health benefits
Both types of cinnamon have health benefits. Cinnamon has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects.
Here are a few interesting studies with both varieties:
Type 2 Diabetes
A study showed that taking as little as 1 gram of cinnamon (cassia) per day helped reduce blood sugar. The study also reported lower triglyceride and cholesterol in type 2 diabetes patients.
Another study showed that cinnamon showed strong insulin like activity in animal models. A daily dose of 300mg per kg body weight of rats for 3 weeks improved blood sugar uptake. This was a stark difference from those rats that did not receive cinnamon.
Researchers also found that sniffing cinnamon could improve brain activity and cognitive abilities.
One lab study found that Ceylon cinnamon extracts inhibited Alzhiemer's condition. The water extracts stopped protein aggregation and filament formation that cause Alzhiemer's.
This may come as the best news of all to a lot of cinnamon lovers!
According to the U.S. Agricultural Research Service, Cinnamon is one spice that increases your metabolism twentyfold—and all you have to ingest is a mere 1/4 to 1 tsp per day!
Both varieties of cinnamon have more or less same nutrition values. Cinnamon is rich in fiber and manganese. It's also a good source of calcium.
A teaspoon of cinnamon (cassia) provides:
- 22% of manganese
- 5% of fiber
- 3% calcium
- 1% iron, of the USDA recommended amounts for these nutrients.
Which is better?
If you're taking cinnamon on a daily basis, Ceylon cinnamon is better for safety reasons.
A major difference between Ceylon and Cassia cinnamon is the presence of coumarin. High levels of coumarins are carcinogenic and induce liver toxicity and liver failure.
According to the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, 1 teaspoon of cassia cinnamon powder contain around 5.8-12.1 mg of coumarin.
The Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) for coumarin is 0.1mg/kg body weight/day. This is recommended by the European Food Safety Authority.
But, the Ceylon variety hardly contains coumarins, which makes it a safe to use long term.
Shelf life and storing your cinnamon
Fresh cinnamon, is more potent than cinnamon that's been lying around in your pantry for a while.
Here's a quick snap shot of the shelf life of cinnamon:
- Ground cinnamon is good to use for up to one year
- Whole cinnamon is good for 2- 3 years
- Whole, dry cinnamon stay good past their shelf life if stored well.
- Store them in their original container in a dry, cool, dark place.
- Freezing is not suggested for spices.
- If your cinnamon sticks are too old, you can tell by their aroma. A strong aroma implies freshness.
Both Ceylon and cassia cinnamon have their health benefits.
Due to its low coumarin levels, Ceylon cinnamon is better if you're using large amounts.Tweet
If you're after Ceylon cinnamon, shop at an ethnic market or a spice store.
Here are some easy ways to enjoy all the goodness cinnamon has to offer:
- Sprinkle some over Ezekiel toast
- Add ground cinnamon to stir fry recipes
- Pinch of cinnamon in almond milk
- Add a sprinkle to your smoothies or your Superfood Coffee
Yours in Health,
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