Cinnamon has been said to have many health benefits. However, what you may not know is that the cinnamon you buy at your local store may not be the right kind of cinnamon to reap all of the health benefits.
Did you know that there is more than one kind of cinnamon? It's true. There are actually multiple kinds of cinnamon, but the two most commonly used in our modern cooking are Cassia cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon.
Ceylon cinnamon is also known as “true” cinnamon, but why? If it is the “true” cinnamon, is there a “false” cinnamon? These are the questions I asked myself while researching the health benefits of cinnamon, only to find out that the cinnamon I was buying was not what I thought.
Benefits of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is such a powerful antioxidant that it's been shown to prevent oxidation better than almost any other spice (except mint) as well as many common chemical antioxidants.
Other Health Benefits of Cinnamon:
- The scent of cinnamon boosts brain function
- Helps control blood sugar
- It's a powerful antimicrobial
- It's an anti-inflammatory food
What is the Best Cinnamon?
If you've been buying cinnamon at the store because you want the health benefits, you will want to read this:
The two major types of cinnamon used in food preparation are Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is known as “true cinnamon” and is native to Sri Lanka. Ceylon cinnamon is NOT the kind of cinnamon that is normally sold in the spice section at your local supermarket.
The kind of cinnamon that you likely find at your local store is Cassia cinnamon, which is a relative of Ceylon cinnamon but is also a much cheaper version.
Both Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon are taken from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree, however Cassia cinnamon is typically darker and has a much more pungent flavor. Ceylon cinnamon is considered a more delicate spice because of it's quality and sweeter taste.
Why is it important to distinguish between Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon?
Though Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon seem very similar, they have some very distinct differences that could impact your health.
Cassia cinnamon is one of the largest sources of coumarin in our modern day diets. This is important to know because coumarin is a toxin that occurs in nature and can be toxic to the liver. Coumarin is also a potential carcinogenic.
Consuming coumarin in your diet regularly can lead to many potential health problems. In fact, it's been estimated that a child consuming Cassia cinnamon on toast or oatmeal just 3 times a week is already exceeding the safe exposure level. Also, adults who regularly consume Cassia cinnamon in their foods or take supplements of Cassia cinnamon could easily be exceeding toxic limits.
The good news is that Ceylon cinnamon either does not contain coumarin or it's contains such trace amounts that it is undetectable.
To me, the answer is clear: If you use cinnamon in your household, it's important to switch from Cassia to Ceylon cinnamon immediately to avoid toxic levels of coumarin in your diet while still reaping all of the health benefits of cinnamon.
Where to Buy Ceylon Cinnamon
Ceylon cinnamon can typically be found in health food stores and can sometimes be found in traditional supermarkets with a health food section.
If you cannot find Ceylon cinnamon locally, you can also buy it online. Organic Ceylon cinnamon is preferable of course.
What kind of cinnamon do you buy? Do you plan to switch?