A sprinkling of cinnamon may be good for your health but perhaps only if you are consuming the right type. The other, may actually be damaging.
There are many types of cinnamon, but only two that we commonly find in the store: Cassia cinnamon, often listed just as cinnamon, a fairly inexpensive staple in almost every grocery store and Ceylon cinnamon, Cassia’s much more costly cousin.
Plants are medicinal and cinnamon is no different.
Ever wonder why pre-ground cinnamon looks like a small tree branch? All cinnamon comes from the inner bark of different species of evergreen trees.
Rich in antioxidants, a sprinkle of cinnamon a day has been linked to a significant decrease in blood glucose levels in diabetics, decrease in inflammation and a drop in cholesterol. Some research also claims that cinnamon will boost your metabolism, help relieve yeast infections, prevent heart disease and slow the progression of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. That’s a tall order for little old cinnamon but if it is true, does the type of cinnamon matter and which cinnamon are you actually consuming?
Cassia cinnamon is the most common of cinnamons, likely due to its strong, aromatic flavor and robust scent that reminds us of Fall. If you see “cinnamon” listed on the ingredient label of your favorite snack, it is the Cassia variety, revered for its rich flavor, and dark glamorous shade, it adds exquisite color and flavor to baked goods and creamy lattes. Cassia cinnamon typically comes from Indonesia and China and is distributed worldwide, whereas Ceylon cinnamon is primarily harvested in Sri Lanka and the southern regions of India.
Though it can be hard to tell which is which when ground (many of us buy ground cinnamon, not cinnamon sticks), if you were to examine both Cassia and Ceylon sticks together, you would find that Cassia is very thick and firm, whereas its cousin is thinner, softer, lighter and much more mild in flavor. Without additional knowledge about their health differences, it is understandable that we would flock to the less expensive, more colorful, bold and vibrant Cassia.
While you might not care about their appearance, there is one very important difference to take note of— Cassia contains a chemical compound called, coumarin.
Coumarin is considered a potential carcinogen and can cause liver damage in large doses.
If you are consuming more than a tsp+ a day of cinnamon, you could be consuming more than the amount of coumarin considered safe.
Ceylon, on the other hand, contains barely a trace of coumarin.
Coumarin is naturally found in a variety of foods, like strawberries and apricots.
Interestingly enough, animals tend to be deterred by plants containing high levels of coumarin.
Want to scare away ants? Try cinnamon sticks!
According to Dr. Axe, higher doses of coumarin may not only damage the liver, but promote the growth of cancer cells, impair cognitive development and cause short term issues, like nausea, impaired vision, digestive issues and headaches.Dr. Axe
While you are likely not eating a bowl of strawberries on the daily, if you are using cinnamon as a way to boost your health regularly, I would suggest splurging on Ceylon cinnamon.
On the other hand, if you are a healthy individual eating a snickerdoodle, or cinnamon roll because you love the taste, I would not get your panties in a bunch (unless you are eating them daily… and then that is likely contributing to other problems)– this is for the folks that add Cassia cinnamon to their daily routine because of it’s potential health benefits.
Speaking of cinnamon rolls… Have a sweet tooth? Research indicates that cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels and improve sensitivity to insulin, helping to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.
Research does not differentiate between Cassia and Ceylon, but at the end of the day, your liver has enough responsibility– let us not give it anymore reason to struggle.
Want to make yourself a mug full of hugs? Try blending your favorite “milk” or “cream” with raw cacao, hot water, a dash of your favorite healthy sweetener and finishing it off with a sprinkling of Ceylon cinnamon. 😉