Having worked as a bibliophilic nutritionist who enjoys scouring the internet for the most recent research and recipes I still find areas where I have BIG gaps in understanding, such as the topic of today’s article: the difference between “real” Ceylon cinnamon and the kind that is often sold at supermarket as cinnamon, cassia cinnamon, or Saigon cinnamon. One of these spices is packed with health benefits, while the other has the potential to trigger damage to our livers when consumed too much.
I was thrilled to be asked to investigate this topic as it combines two of my favorite things: cinnamon and research and I need to confess, I was a little bit shocked at the conclusion I came to. Is there any spice in our cabinets that generate more feelings of comfort, offer such deliciousness, or stimulate some of our most treasured childhood memories? I do not believe there is, so let’s make sure we’re buying the very best, health-promoting version of this spice that we can!
What’s the Difference?
Real cinnamon and the other, cheaper to produce varieties of cinnamon actually come from a totally different types of tree. True cinnamon is typically produced in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil, or the Caribbean, while it’s fake cousin is generally grown in either China, Indonesia, or Vietnam.
Another difference is in look and flavour. While the cinnamon we’re used to seeing on the grocery store shelves is generally dark reddish brown and tastes quite spicy, true cinnamon is much lighter in color and has a sweeter, more mild, yet still overwhelmingly tasty, flavor.
Finally, the biggest and most relevant difference between cinnamons is the material of a compound called coumarin. Ceylon cinnamon contains about 0.017 g/kg while other types of cinnamon contain from 2.15– 6.97 g/kg of coumarin.
This compound is a blood thinner and anticoagulant, so it is not recommended for those currently on medications such as Warfarin. In addition to its result on the blood, studies have actually likewise found that coumarin is poisonous to the liver when we take in above the tolerable daily intake, which is set at 0.1 mg/kg of body weight.
That means for somebody who weighs 68 kg they would have a TDI of 6.8 mg/day. Since one gram of cinnamon can contain between 2.15-6.97 mg of coumarin, you could be reaching that ceiling by consuming about 1/5 of a tsp. each day. If you wish to take cinnamon for health advantages you’ll likely be taking a bit more than this, so it’s best to stick to Ceylon cinnamon, just to be safe. Your liver does a lot for you, so show it some love by treating it to the best quality spices!
How Do You Find The Best Quality Cinnamon?
- Look for cinnamon that is labeled as either:
- True Cinnamon
- Ceylon Cinnamon
- Cinnamomum Verum
- Purchase natural cinnamon to prevent contamination with pesticides and other fillers or preservatives.
- If you’re buying the bark, real cinnamon “sticks” will typically curl in a circle, instead of in the characteristic two-curled stick.
- It is often lighter brown in color and more grainy and fluffy than conventionally sold cinnamon.
- It will usually be pricier. This isn’t always the very best indicator, but when combined with a number of the other points above it can be handy.
What Are The Health Benefits Of True Cinnamon?
Now that you know the differences between the types of cinnamon on the shelf and how to buy the best quality product let’s have a look at the incredible health benefits and nutrients included in this extremely spice.
- It’s a great source of manganese, which is a trace mineral that you need in order to construct healthy bones and correctly metabolize fats and carbs. Cinnamon also contains fibre to help digestion, calcium for strong bones, and iron for energy production. That’s a lot of nutrition hiding in a delicious package!
- Cinnamon is an exceptionally potent anti-bacterial, antifungal, and antiviral, which means it can assist your immune system protect you from the colds and influenza circulating at school, house, or the office!
- Research suggests that its anti-inflammatory advantages might be protective against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Because this disease is becoming progressively prevalent in North America, finding out that certain common can supply protective benefits is extremely empowering!
- If you have prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, or PCOS cinnamon can be a real lifesaver! It has actually been shown in studies that even a little amount, as low as 1/2 tsp./ day, can help lower your fasting glucose levels– the fancy terms for the amount of sugar circulating in our blood between meals–, HbA1C, and blood pressure by improving your response to insulin.
- We’re all growing older every day (lucky us!), but including cinnamon into your daily regimen can help prevent signs of aging thanks to its potent effects on inflammatory and oxidative compounds in the body.