Spices and Condiments

Is All Cinnamon the Same?

We’ve all heard at one time or another that Cinnamon has a lot of good health attributes including regulating blood glucose by increasing insulin sensitivity.  That is great and many, including myself, have been using this wonderful spice more often.  Being Pre-diabetic, I have even purchased Cinnamon capsules that contain Chromium to even further the regulation of my blood glucose.

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There is one drawback, however, and it’s a MAJOR one. For one thing, there are two types of cinnamon used in food preparation, Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon.   Both Cassia and Ceylon are derived from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees.  Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is native to Sri Lanka, is also known as “true cinnamon.”  Ceylon cinnamon is considered a finer quality spice due to its sweeter, more delicate and complex flavor.  Unfortunately, this is NOT the predominant spice typically sold as cinnamon in the United States.  What is commonly found at your grocery store is a closely related and less expensive variety called Cassia cinnamon.  Cassia is native to Burma and also grown in China and Vietnam.   Cassia is slightly darker in color compared to Ceylon, and has a stronger, more pungent flavor.    It contains Coumarin.   In fact, Cassia cinnamon is the main source of coumarin in the human diet.

Coumarin has been illegal in the United States since 1954. The ban was put in place because eating high concentrations of coumarin can cause liver damage!

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Coumarin is a naturally occurring toxin which has the potential to damage the liver in high doses.  Cassia cinnamon contains elevated levels of coumarin, whereas Ceylon contains either undetectable levels or only traces of coumarin.   Coumarin can cause liver toxicity in several species and was found to be carcinogenic in rodents.   Coumarin, if ingested too often, causes liver damage.

This is yet another compelling reason to cook from scratch.  Do not purchase pastries and other baked goods, instant oatmeal, cookies, etc.…that contain cinnamon because they most likely contain the less expensive cinnamon from Cassia bark, which contains high amounts of coumarin.

What can you do?  There is an answer, and it is to make sure you get Ceylon cinnamon.  Bake all your goodies from scratch and make sure you use Ceylon cinnamon.  I’m quite sure your homemade baked goods will taste far superior to the store bought ones.  Ceylon cinnamon is more expensive but is worth not damaging your liver.  Ceylon cinnamon, used as a culinary spice, contains very insignificant traces or undetectable amounts of Coumarin. Ceylon cinnamon is also amazingly effective at regulating glucose and serves a multitude of other healthful benefits.  It’s an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, cancer fighter and is amazingly effective in helping to heal stomach viruses.  All this without the liver damaging effects from the Coumarin contained in Cassia cinnamon.  I personally use this brand Ceylon Cinnamon.

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