Is Cinnamon Healthy?

Is cinnamon healthy? Sure! But one type is healthier and tastier...get to know ceylon cinnamon!Is all cinnamon healthy? Well, yes and no. Look, I’m not here to smack your hands or check your cabinets. But when I discover something really cool that makes my food healthier and taste better, I want to tell you all about it!  We all know cinnamon is a kitchen spice cabinet staple, and we love the warm wonderful flavor and smell. Did you know that cinnamon is also a fantastic spice for overall health? It’s been used for thousands of years as a spice and for health benefits related to blood sugar and weight management.

Today, I’m going to introduce you to a different, healthier cinnamon. Did you know that there is more than one type of cinnamon? It’s true! All forms of cinnamon are harvested from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree. The most common cinnamon that you’ll find here in the U.S. is from the species of tree is called the C. Cassia. It’s widely grown in China and Vietnam. It’s the main form of cinnamon that you’ll find here in the U.S. in foods, in spice bottles, and in the supplement capsules marketed to diabetics to support healthy blood sugar levels. It may be the only form of cinnamon that you’ve ever experienced.1

Cassia cinnamon is a hearty/heavily flavored form of cinnamon. The darkly colored and thick bark of this species makes it difficult to crush. The bottle of cinnamon from the grocery store, and the hard, thick cinnamon sticks in my pantry are both cassia cinnamon. Can you tell which one of the spoons below is the cassia?

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Cassia is dark and chunky 

The benefit to cassia cinnamon is that it’s cheap and readily available, and there are some great studies that back up its healthy properties. The downside to cassia is that this species contains a higher level of a naturally occurring blood thinning component called coumarin.

Is cassia cinnamon healthy? The jury is still out for long term high dose usage. Though it’s thought to be fairly safe in small amounts, animal studies have raised concerns on the toxicity of coumarin and its potential for liver and kidney problems if too much is ingested. With the new research showing the benefits of cinnamon, larger amounts are being suggested for people with blood sugar issues.  This pushes us into new territory with how we are using cinnamon, and the amounts of cinnamon (and coumarin) that we’re taking in over time.  The effects and safety limits for coumarin in small children and babies has not been well studied.

In Europe, there are warnings against using high daily amounts of cassia cinnamon, and tighter regulations on using cassia cinnamon in food products. A teaspoon of cassia cinnamon contains between 5.8 to 12.1 mg of coumarin.The effects and safety limits for coumarin in small children and babies has not been well studied.

The good news is that the coumarin component is oil soluble, so you can use water extraction with cassia cinnamon to reduce or exclude the coumarin content. Water extraction would be boiling sticks, or tying the powder into a coffee filter and steeping like tea. But stirring your cassia powder into a daily drink is not something I’m feeling too great about at this point.

I have great news, especially if you’re a cinnamon lover and use a lot of it, or if you’re taking cinnamon as a supplement. There is something better! I highly recommend looking into this tasty cousin of cassia: Ceylon cinnamon. Also known as “true cinnamon,” is a milder, sweeter form from the tree Cinnamonum Verum. It’s mainly harvested in Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon…hence the name) and Madagascar.3

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The really cool thing is that this form of cinnamon not only tastes amazing, but it’s got little to no risk of coumarin exposure even with high doses.4 And in animal studies, it shows impressive health benefits to boot including “attenuation of diabetes associated weight loss, reduction of fasting blood glucose, LDL and HbA(1c) , increasing HDL cholesterol and increasing circulating insulin levels” as well as improving the markers of what we know as metabolic syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, and insulin resistance “with no significant toxic effects on liver and kidney and a significantly high therapeutic [dose]”.5
ceylon cinnamon (2)

cassia sticks on the left, ceylon sticks on the right

The other great news? You can get a full pound of it for a very fair price, considering what you’d pay for the little fancy bottles of the cheaper cinnamon in the grocery store.

Here’s where I bought my Frontier organic Ceylon cinnamon in a one pound bag. I found these beautiful ceylon cinnamon sticks in my local grocery in the ethnic aisle. And there’s a fun tip in the comments for making your own powdered cinnamon!

ceylon cinnamon (1)

Since I’ve made the switch in my family, we’re loving the Ceylon cinnamon! I’m choosing to use up my cassia cinnamon sticks in things like scented herbal simmering pots, and the ground cassia to make cinnamon ornaments. It’s still fun for scents, but I feel better about using the Ceylon in our foods and drinks.

Have you tried Ceylon cinnamon? What do you think?

To Pin!

Is cinnamon healthy? Sure! But one type is healthier and tastier...get to know ceylon cinnamon!

 

Sources Cited:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamomum_cassia

2. http://www.bfr.bund.de/cm/349/high_daily_intakes_of_cinnamon_health_risk_cannot_be_ruled_out.pdf

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamomum_verum

4. https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/choosing_the_right_cinnamon.aspx#_ENREF_2

5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22671971

 

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  1. says

    We love cinnamon and use it in everything, just like vanilla 😉 I’ll have to peak around and see if I can find it at Whole Foods cause it sounds yummier than regular cinnamon, which we also enjoy.

    Loving your new blog. Have been following you since your THM transformation days. Watching you encouraged me and I lost 20+ lbs. Yippee! You wouldn’t know it now as I have a bun in the oven and my tummy is protruding quite a lot – haha!

    Glad to have you back and glad you took a rest for you and your family.

    ~Cinnamon (the sweet kind :-)

  2. Cynthia says

    How do you store your extra, Gwen? Do you freeze it?

    I had been looking for Ceylon cinnamon at Whole Foods and other stores in my area for several months, but they never had it on the shelves. Glad to find this link for purchasing a whole pound at once, and on my Amazon Prime, too. Thanks for the link!

  3. Christina says

    I found out the difference between cassia and ceylon a few years ago and made the switch then. At the time I also recommened

  4. Lori says

    I discovered these properties of cinnamon about a year ago and made the switch to Ceylon. However, even the price through Amazon is daunting for most people. If you get a group of families together, you can start a Frontier co-op and the price directly through them and through the co-op is substantially less.

      • Lori says

        Yes, Gwen, they are different! You have to form a co-op, which is easy to do. And then their prices shown when you are part of that co-op are their wholesale prices. There is a minimum order each month, I think $250 for the group (not individually), but with several families, easy to reach. In the co-op that I had ordered it through, the mom in charge charged us %5 for separating orders and getting them ready for pick-up. We all still saved and it was a win-win for all of us.

    • says

      It’s closely related to the cassia cinnamon, and would have the higher coumarin content even if it’s organic. (It’s a part of the plant itself…not something sprayed or added on). I bought a one pound bag of Frontier ceylon cinnamon from Amazon. :)

  5. Rose says

    I get the Ceylon Cinnamon sticks in the Mexican spices section of some stores. I then take it home, tear it in 1inch pieces and then grind them into a fine powder. It is so delicious and the aroma is phenomenal.

  6. Margaret says

    What about Sigon Cinnamon. That is the brand I purchase at Costco here in Canada. Is it along the same line as Ceylon ?