Friday, March 16, 2012

Cinnamon, Which type should we be eating?

I have been looking into cinnamon since it is proclaimed to be very healthy. Did you know there are a few types of cinnamon? We will cover the two most used forms, ceylon and cassia.

Here are some of my findings:

There are two general types of cinnamon, cassia and ceylon cinnamon. A distinction in taste can be made between the two types. The important point is that ceylon cinnamon contains low levels of coumarin (a potential liver and kidney toxin). By contrast, cassia cinnamon contains high levels of coumarin up to 63 times more than Ceylon cinnamon powder. On the other hand, cassia cinnamon sticks consisted 18 times more coumarin compared to Ceylon sticks. So get some ceylon cinnamon in your cupboard, especially the powder form.

It is almost impossible for us to distinguish between the two types of cinnamon in powder form. I believe ceylon cinnamon is harder to find. A recent example occurred when I went to Clark's Organic Foods grocery store and their employees did not even know about ceylon cinnamon.  So, the distinction is not commonl even among proclaimed healthophiles. Starbucks uses cassia from China, and I have not found cinnamon labeled as ceylon in any brick and mortars anywhere yet. Hopefully, that will change . . .

The situation is different when distinguishing cinnamon in the stick form. Cassia cinnamon has a relatively thick layer of the bark and is rolled into a stick. The cross-section of a Ceylon cinnamon stick looks more like a cigarette: several thin layers of bark rolled haphazardly, making its cross-sectional view appear more compact.

The origin of the cinnamon is not generally indicated on the package. If it is made in China or India, chances are it is cassia. Ceylon is usually grown in Sri Lanka, Seychelles, and Madagascar. So dump the cassia and find some ceylon cinnamon. It is better for your kidneys, liver, and packed full of antioxidants to maintain and improve your (intra/extracellular) health. If you would like to delve deeper into the complexities associated with cinnamon including nutrient content just review these two great resources, whfoods.com and Marksdailyapple. They both elucidate the many benefits of cinnamon nutritionally, medically, and provide interesting contrast between the two.

Brick and mortar update: I just found organic ceylon cinnamon sticks from Sri Lanka at Cost Plus WorldMarket.


Ceylon Cinnamon:


Cassia Cinnamon: