Are you eating “true” cinnamon?


When you buy some cinnamon at the Supermarket, what you usually buy is a completely different plant called Cinnamomum Cassia, also known as Chinese cinnamon. “True cinnamon” or “real cinnamon” is actually Ceylon cinnamon called Cinnamomum verum  from Sri Lanka, which is, unfortunately, less known to most people. Even though these two species share some characteristics their contents differ a lot.

So how do you know which one is real?

Chinese cinnamon is very cheap. You can get few sticks for less than a dollar; real cinnamon is tan brown and Chinese cinnamon is reddish dark brown; Ceylon cinnamon is fragile and easily broken, with sweeter and more delicate flavour, while the other is difficult to grind and with stronger flavour.

Why shouldn’t you often use Chinese cinnamon? The biggest and also the most dangerous difference between the two species is in the amount of coumarin – substance with strong blood-thinning properties. The level of naturally occurring coumarin in cassia is incredibly 1200 times higher and may cause significant health problems if consumed in large amounts on a regular basis and can have a negative impact on the liver and kidney.

Cinnamon has been consumed since 2000 BC in Ancient Egypt where it was very highly prized. The Romans used it in their wines, the Hebrews used it in religious rituals, in Asia and Africa it was used to flavour the food and the Arabians considered it as the most important element in perfumes. When the British occupied the country, they started trading it around the globe and at this time, Ceylon cinnamon flourished.

What are the health benefits of cinnamon?

Ceylon cinnamon possesses outstanding health benefits; it is the most powerful antioxidant in nature. Cinnamon is an excellent source of manganese and fiber and a very good source of calcium. It is used to help treat muscle spasms, vomiting, diarrhea, infections, the common cold and loss of appetite. It may lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.

Cinnamaldehyde – a chemical found in Cassia cinnamon – can help fight against bacterial and fungal infections. It has been discovered that cinnamon can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. There is an extract found in cinnamon bark which can deter the development of the disease. Some studies have revealed that cinnamon may potentially be effective against HIV. According to some neurological scientists it can help stop the harsh process of multiple sclerosis; it could help eliminate the need to take some expensive and unpleasant drugs.

How can we enjoy cinnamon?

Cinnamon is widely used in both savory and sweet food and beverages. Here are a few quick serving ideas:

  • If you add ground cinnamon to black beans in burritos or nachos it will give them an outstandingly delicious taste.
  • If you simmer cinnamon sticks with soymilk and honey you can get a deliciously warming beverage.
  • You can add ground cinnamon when preparing curries for richer flavour.
  • Or you can enjoy one of the favorite kids’ classics—cinnamon toast. Sprinkle flax seed oil onto whole wheat toast and then sprinkle with cinnamon and honey.

So, the one spice you must have in your kitchen is definitely Ceylon cinnamon, from Sri Lanka. Whether you use it in your drinks or food to make them taste delicious, you should never forget that its extraordinary properties do wonders to your health.

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