We have all experienced the sweet taste of homemade cinnamon rolls, or sprinkled a pinch of this magic spice on our oatmeal. Not only is Cinnamon delicious, but it is also loaded with nutritional benefits! Such as its high levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, it helps reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, lowers blood sugar levels, helps fight bacterial & fungal infections (such as Candida) as well as HIV, helps fight allergies, prevents dental problems & freshens breath naturally, it even can help you in sweetening your recipes at home without adding sugar! These are just a sneak peak of all the AMAZING benefits of regularly including Ceylon Cinnamon into your diet.
Now, before you go running to the store or even your spice rack.. lets make sure you are using the most nutritionally fit type of cinnamon…….
There is a huge controversial misunderstanding going on about the ‘CASSIA vs. CEYLON’ cinnamon “truths”. Most stating that there is Cassia cinnamon, and there is “true” cinnamon (Ceylon). Incorrect.
First off, there is no such thing as “true” cinnamon. They are both types of cinnamon, just with differences in origin, health benefits, taste, looks, etc. But they are BOTH cinnamon.
Matter of fact aside these two most well known.. there are hundreds of different types of cinnamon, commonly referred to as ‘cousins’. BUT there are only four varieties used for commercial purposes: Ceylon, Cassia, Korintje, & Saigon.
|Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, Cinnamomum Verum|
Korintje Cinnamon, Padang Cassia
|Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese Cassia. Vietnamese Cinnamon||Cinnamomum Loureiroi|
|Cassia Cinnamon or Chinese Cinnamon||Cinnamomum
So what is all the huff about there only being one “true” type of cinnamon???
Here’s the Difference……….
Scientifically referred to as Cinnamomum Verum, this spice derives from a small evergreen tree belonging to the family Lauraceae, native to Sri Lanka. It is also grown and harvested in Madagascar, Brazil, India, and the Caribbean. This variety is more popular in much of Europe, Latin America, Mexico, the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. This cinnamon is harvested by removing the bark of the tree and than removing the inner layer of that bark.
You than dry it, which naturally causes the bark to roll..creating what is known as “cinnamon sticks”.
The truth about why Ceylon is referred to as “true” cinnamon and the most healthy choice is the underlying content of a compound called Coumarin.
What is Coumarin? It is a fragrant organic chemical compound in the benzopyrone chemical class, which is a colorless crystalline substance in its standard state. It is a natural substance found in many plants. Let me break this down a little bit….
Several countries are warning people about the potentially dangerous effects of coumarin, and products being sold and advertised as “beneficially healthy” containing coumarin. After doing extensive studies and research I found that many doctors are actually trying to hide the underlying side affects of this compound due to it actually being used in prescription medications! Say Whaaaaaa??
Coumarin is a blood thinner that is toxic to the liver and prevalent in much higher levels in the three cassia spices, explained in further detail below. Overuse of this compound can cause migraines, nausea, diarrhea, & in severe cases delusions. If you only consume cinnamon every once in a blue moon…say in your smoothie or simply just add it into your cookie batter, the risk for any damage to your health is much lower. So you could save a few pennies due to Ceylon being anywhere for 3 to 4 times more expensive than Cassia…But if you are going to be ingesting a spice, even just for taste, why not choose one with actual beneficial properties and not health risks? BUT, if you are a regular to even daily user of cinnamon..like I am…CHOOSE CEYLON.. as to daily use of cinnamon’s containing high levels of Coumarin….CAN RESULT IN LIVER FAILURE!
A 2010 German study found that on average, the cinnamon powders of all 3 Cassia species had up to 63 times more coumarin compared to Ceylon cinnamon powder, while Cassia cinnamon sticks contained 18 times more than Ceylon cinnamon sticks.
Coumarin was detected in the majority of store bought cinnamon, cinnamon-flavored foods, and cinnamon food supplements.
ALSO, Ceylon has a lighter color to its bark compared to Cassia varieties, and has a sweeter more mild flavor.
It can get a little confusing here since all three non-Ceylon varieties are often referred to as Cassia cinnamon. Cassia has received a bad rep health wise as to it is proven to be less benefitial compared to Ceylon. But Cassia (Cinnamomum Aromaticum) actually hold the SECOND lowest percentage of coumarin… see below.
|Type of Cinnamon||Coumarin Content|
|Ceylon Cinnamon, or Mexican Cinnamon||
|Korintje Cinnamon, Indonesian Cinnamon, Padang Cassia||
|Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese Cassia, Vietnamese Cinnamon||
|Cassia Cinnamon or Chinese Cinnamon||
Cassia cinnamon scientifically referred to as Cinnamomum Aromaticum or “Chinese cinnamon” originated from China. This variety is known to have a spicy-bitter flavor, holds a dark reddish-brown color, & is very cheap, but holds high levels of Coumarin.
Originating from Indonesia, Korintje Cinnamon scientifically referred to as Cinnamomum burmanni, Indonesian cinnamon or Padang Cassia. It is an intense & spicy, but has also been known to be a bit smoother than the other cassia sisters. Korintje is the most commonly used type of cinnamon in North America for commercial bakeries because of its good flavor, but MOSTLY because it is much cheaper than any other type.
NOTE: You can purchase a bottle of “Cinnamon” at the grocery store but it could be any of the cassie varieties, sometimes mixture. It must be labeled ‘Ceylon Cinnamon’.
INTERESTING FACT.. North America uses more Korintje cinnamon than anywhere else in the world. Europe and much of the rest of the world more frequently use Ceylon cinnamon, as this was the type that was first brought to the continent by traders more than 400 years ago! Also because it holds the highest percentage of beneficial properties, and lowest percentage of coumarin. Some chefs around the world prefer Ceylon for use in desserts, as its flavor is much milder and sweeter, whereas the strong taste of Korintje cinnamon can overpower the dish. Compared to Ceylon, Korintje is much harder, more brittle and has a much darker, reddish-brown color.
So if Korintje is SMOOTH flavored & CHEAP… why is it not the best choice?
Take a wild guess…. COUMARIN. Karintje is the cheapest, but it also has a Coumarin content of 2.15 g/kg!
I think you are starting to get the picture….
Scientifically referred to as Cinnamomum Loureiroi, but also known as Vietnamese cinnamon or Vietnamese cassia.
Saigon’s Bark is similar to the bark of other Cassia’s, but holds a more pronounced and complex aroma.
Originating from Vietnam, Saigon is closely related to cassia (Chinese)cinnamon. Saigon cinnamon has around 1-5% essential oil content and 25% cinnamaldehyde in the essential oil, which is the highest of all the cinnamon species. It has a volatile oil content of around 7%, which gives it a very bold and robust flavor that is ideal for cooking and for use in sauces. Admittedly Saigon cinnamon makes a good first impression in terms of sheer aroma and taste. It tends to be even more spicy, strong, & sweet all at the same time.
Now, how many of you enjoy the popular well known Vietnamese Cuisine known as “PHO”? Well, Guess which of the most important ingredients of this dish is? SAIGON CINNAMON.
Lastly, but most certainly not least….
Saigon cinnamon holds the highest content of coumarin than any other varieties of cinnamon at a whopping 6.97 g/kg!