Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity. Cinnamomum verum or Ceylon cinnamon is sometimes considered to be “true cinnamon”, but most cinnamon grown commercially for spice is derived from the related species Cinnamomum cassia, also referred to as “cassia” is always sold as broken pieces of thick bark, as the bark is not supple enough to be rolled into quills like Ceylon cinnamon.
Cinnamon is used mainly as an aromatic condiment and flavoring additive in a wide variety of cuisines, sweet and savory dishes, fruits, breakfast cereals, snack foods, tea and traditional foods. The aroma and flavor of cinnamon derive from its essential oil (that makes up 0.5 to 1% of its composition) and principal component, cinnamaldehyde, (that makes the pungent taste and scent, also thought to be responsible for most of cinnamon’s health benefits. Cinnamon constituents include some 80 aromatic compounds including eugenol found in the oil from leaves or bark of cinnamon trees.
Cinnamon is known to be one of the most beneficial spices in the world for its powerful medicinal properties. It is loaded with powerful Anti oxidants such as polyphenols. In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, cinnamon wound up as the clear winner, even outranking “super foods” like garlic and oregano (1). In fact, it is so powerful that cinnamon can be used as a natural food preservative (2).
Studies has shown cinnamon possess some very impressive health benefits such as having anti-inflammatory properties, reduce the risks of heart disease, lowers blood sugar levels, has a positive effect on the Neuro Degenerative Diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson, help reduce the growth of cancerous cell and tumor, fights against fungal and bacterial infections are among many other benefits.
The Cassia variety contains significant amounts of a compound called coumarin, which is believed to be harmful in large doses. Ceylon (“true” cinnamon) is much better in this regard, and studies show that it’s much lower in coumarin than the Cassia variety (3).
Cinnamon is one of the most healthiest spices on the planet. Make sure to get Ceylon cinnamon or have small doses when using the Cassia variety.