Cinnamon

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, synonym C. zeylanicum) is a small evergreen tree belonging to the family Lauraceae, native to Sri Lanka, or the spice obtained from the tree's bark. It is often confused with other similar species and the similar spices derived from them, such as Cassia and Cinnamomum burmannii, which are often called cinnamon too.

The name cinnamon is correctly used to refer to Ceylon cinnamon, also known as "true cinnamon". However, the related species, Cassia , Saigon Cinnamon, and Cinnamomum burmannii are sometimes sold labelled as cinnamon, sometimes distinguished from true cinnamon as "Chinese cinnamon", "Vietnamese cinnamon", or "Indonesian cinnamon"; many websites, for example, describe their "cinnamon" as being cassia.

Ceylon cinnamon, using only the thin inner bark, has a finer, less dense, and more crumbly texture, and is considered to be less strong than cassia. Cassia has a much stronger (somewhat harsher) flavour than cinnamon, is generally a medium to light reddish brown, hard and woody in texture, and thicker (2–3 mm thick), as all of the layers of bark are used.

Due to the presence of a moderately toxic component called coumarin, European health agencies have recently warned against consuming large amounts of cassia. Coumarin is known to cause liver and kidney damage in high concentrations. True Ceylon cinnamon has negligible amounts of coumarin.


Ceylon ("True") Cinnamon, on the left
and cassia quills side-by-side

Due to the presence of a moderately toxic component called coumarin, European health agencies have recently warned against consuming large amounts of cassia. Coumarin is known to cause liver and kidney damage in high concentrations. True Ceylon cinnamon has negligible amounts of coumarin.

Health Benefits of Cinnamon

  1. Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol.
  2. Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.
  3. In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections.
  4. In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukaemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
  5. It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.
  6. In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
  7. When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
  8. One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.
  9. Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.
  10. It is a great source of manganese, fibre, iron, and calcium.
  11. In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukaemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
  12. It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.
  13. In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
  14. When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
  15. One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.
  16. Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.
  17. It is a great source of manganese, fibre, iron, and calcium.