Spices and herbs

What Cinnamon is Good for You

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Cinnamon is very popular and is among the spices that are widely used across cultures. Spices are commonly used for culinary purposes and to add flavor on foods, among other things. Cinnamon was in use since 2800 BC.

Other than being used for cooking purposes, cinnamon has also been found to be useful for medicinal purposes. It has been “used in Japanese herbal medicines (Kampo medicines) especially for the treatment of fever and hot flushes”

According to research there are different types of cinnamon but ceylon and cassia are the main types of cinnamon that are in commercial use.

Cassia is very common and can be easily found in supermarkets worldwide. Conversely, Ceylon is not commonly found and is said to be expensive compared to cassia.

Cinnamon is said to have essential oils and compounds like cinnamaldehyde among others. It has been found to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, cardio-protective, and lipid-lowering effects.

Cinnamon can be used for a variety of things, even in stews. It can also be added to smoothies especially beet smoothie (click here to learn about the benefits of beetroot.)

I’ve recently sprinkled cinnamon over cooked pumpkin, I tell you, it tasted so heavenly.

Without further ado, let’s dive in and unpack the science behind cinnamon in more detail.

Why is Ceylon Cinnamon a Better Option over Cassia and What Makes them Different?

Cinnamon is a bark of the cinnamomum tree and belongs to the family of Lauraceae.

It comes in different varieties, cassia, and Ceylon and has been in use for many years, mainly for cooking, flavoring additive, and medicinal purposes. The bark is dried and then curls into thin strips or quills.

Cassia is native to China and Indonesia. This spice is widely used and is botanically known as cinnamomum aromaticum.

Cassia is reddish dark brown and has a strong flavor compared to ceylon. Its sticks or quills are rough and thick in texture and forms in few layers when rolled up.

Ceylon is native to Sri Lanka and is referred to as true cinnamon or cinnamomum zeylanicum.

It is tan brownish and has a slightly sweet taste. In contrast to cassia, ceylon is thin in texture and forms in multiple layers when rolled up.

Coumarin, a compound occuring naturally in plants, has been found to be harmful.

This has been tested in rodents when they were fed coumarin and it was found that coumarin can damage the liver.

Coumarin was banned in the US by FDA in 1954 due to the hepatotoxicity outcome of the study on rats.

Cassia has been found to be rich in coumarin while ceylon is said to have only small amount. Does this mean that cassia is harmful for consumption?

It’s believed that high doses of cassia can be harmful if ingested in excess and over time.

The tolerable daily intake (TDI) value of 0.1mg/kg has been established by German Federal Institute For Risk Assessment to protect against the risk of hepatotoxicity. Thus, it helps to pay attention to how much cassia we ingest in foods.

What’s the verdict, ceylon, or cassia? Although its believed that cassia is not harmful when eaten in small amounts but ceylon is not linked to any health risks given the fact that it contains only trace amounts of coumarin.

Sri Lanka Export Development Board says, “according to Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, an average adults consuming more that 2 grams of cassia cinnamon a day is at risk of side effects, it’s much safer to consume ceylon cinnamon”

Does Cinnamon Benefit People with Type 2 Diabetes?

According to the study that was performed on 60 participants with type 2 diabetes which involved 30 men and 30 women. The participants were subdivided into six groups.

The first three groups were given different doses (1,3,6 g ) of cinnamon daily and the last three groups were given placebo capsules with the same doses as the ones with cinnamon, for 40 days.

After 40 days those who were on cinnamon supplementation, all different levels that is, experienced positive results.

A reduced abnormal glucose levels and cholesterol levels (LDL) and total cholesterol were observed, but there was no significant change in the HDL cholesterol, research says.

Does Cinnamon Show The Potential to Boost Memory and Learning Abilities?

It’s everyone’s desire to perform tasks efficiently and successfully and meet their deadlines. This is also the case for students, to have an excellent memory, learn fast and achieve higher academic grades.

Well, cinnamon seemed to show positive results when it was tested on mice according to Neurological scientist at Rush University Medical Center which was conducted in July 2016.

The objective was to investigate whether cinnamon has a positive impact on the brain activity.

Researchers observed as they fed the mice with limited learning abilities, cinnamon. Its not indicated how much cinnamon the mice were fed.

It turned out that the mice learning ability was improved. This is what Kalipad Pahad, PhD, the lead researcher of the study and Floyd A Davis Professor of Neurology at Rush University say, “This would be one of the safest and easiest approaches to convert poor learners to good learners”

Apparently when mice were fed cinnamon it was subsequently metabolized into sodium benzoate. “Sodium benzoate is a drug used to treat brain damage.

“Sodium benzoate “increased the CREB (a protein involved in memory and learning) and decreased GABBRA 5 (the protein that generates tonic inhibitory conductance in the brain) in poor learners by stimulating the hippocampal neuron’s plasticity (the ability to change) which improved learning and memory among the mice” according to research.

Experts report that there were no significant improvement that was observed in good performing learners.

“Individual difference in learning and educational performance is a global issue, we need to further test this approach in poor learners.

If these results are replicated in poor learning students, it would be a remarkable advance”, says Pahan.

That being said, human clinical trials are still required for the progression of the study.

Another Potential Health Benefits Of Cinnamon

One study reveals that cinnamon has the potential to benefit the heart due to the cardio-protective effects exhibited by cinnamaldehyde, along with its essential oils.

Research further indicates that cinnamon may prevent the progression of Parkinson’s disease. “Parkisan is the second major widespread neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease with a prevalence of 2% in people 65 years and older”

“The study found that after oral feeding, ground cinnamon is metabolized into sodium benzoate which enters into the brain, stops the loss of Parkin and DJ-1, protects neurons, normalizes neurotransmitter levels and improves motor functions in mice with PD”

The study experimented on laboratory mice and clinical trials are required to further investigate the effectiveness of cinnamon on patients with Parkinson’s disease, according to research.

Here Are Foods That Taste Good With Cinnamon

What is food without a good spice? Spices or herbs make food taste delicious. Cinnamon is one of those aromatic spices which gives food a nice kick and a delicious taste.

It is usually sprinkled over baking food items and desserts or is used as an ingredient for smoothies.

Some of these foods include:

  1. Tea
  2. Coffee
  3. Desserts (Pudding, Milk tart, etc)
  4. Muffins
  5. Pancakes
  6. Butternut squash and/or pumpkin mash
  7. Oats meal and/or porridge
  8. Smoothie, especially beetroot smoothie
  9. Hot vanilla
  10. Cookies

A Take Home Message

Cinnamon is one of the best spices after black pepper and has been in use for many years across the globe.

While there are different types of cinnamon, the only two versions of this bark are used commercially. These include cassia and Ceylon.

Ceylon is referred to as true cinnamon while cassia is known as Chinese cinnamon. Ceylon is native to Sri Lanka whereas cassia originates in China and Indonesia.

The spices are both healthy except that cassia contains too much coumarin, the compound occurring naturally in most plants, whereas Ceylon only contains a small amount of this compound.

Coumarin is thought to have harmful effects on the liver and kidney when ingested in large doses, hence it is recommended to consume cassia in small amounts and not regularly if anything you can opt for Ceylon instead.

Ceylon is termed pure cinnamon as this suggests that Ceylon is a better option over cassia.

It doesn’t come cheap though when compared to cassia in terms of pricing. On the flip side, Ceylon is not commonly found in supermarkets compared to cassia.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article, if you found it interesting do leave your comment, question, and/or opinion in a comment section below.

Disclaimer: This site’s intent is to provide information and create awareness. The content is not designed to provide medical advice. Thus, if you have any medical condition consult a health care practitioner.

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  1. What Cinnamon Is Good For You is an interesting article, I especially am interested since I use this spice in place of sugar. I add it to many of my foods that you would add sugar to, and lately I found if you add it to sweet potatoes it tastes very similar to pumpkin pie


  2. This is a great post, Maggie. I haven’t have a clue, that there are different types of Cinnamon. For me it was just the one, which I could buy in the supermarket. Apparently it was then the Cassia type. I agree that the taste of cinnamon is really great. Considering the benefits I started to use it widely in my kitchen. (My specialty is egg pizza with cinnamon on top of it -;) I think the benefits of cinnamon are still underestimated and hopefully, after your post, more people will realize how it can help in everyday life. Cheers.

    1. Hey Julius

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the the to read this article. Its good to learn that you already have a good experience with cinnamon as one of the spices you have in your kitchen.

      Have a blissful day

  3. Dear Maggie,
    This is a very informative article about the benefits of cinnamon in your diet. I love to have it every day, but if I never tried it reading this would spark my interest.
    I always thought cinnamon does well for the heart, but did not imagine until training in over the counter and herbal medications that there are many more useful features for having cinnamon intake. This is a great summary, and follows precisely what I learned in Oharmacy Tech and nursing training.
    So glad to read this and help bring more awareness.
    Kind Regards,
    Nurse Becca
    -R. Nixon, RN, CLNC

    1. Thanks Rebecca for reading this article and finding it useful.I’ts good to hear that you’ve learned the same thing during your training at the nursing college.

      Have a great day

  4. Cinnamon is one of my favourite herbs! I tend to use in everything including tea, porridge, bran flakes, curries, pilau, biryani and so on. I even use it topically as it’s an excellent for the facial spots/acne.

    Thank you for providing us an excellent post about the cinnamon usage.

  5. Hi Maggie,
    thank you for this post, I learnt from it. My husband has diabetes and he was recommended to have a teaspoon of cinnamon a day. He is not very fond of it, so he skips days, but I try to remind him occasionally. I did not know we should have paid attention as to which sort we were buying, because of the coumarin. I’ll sure check which sort we have at home and change it, if necessary.
    As for the taste of it, I do love it very much, we had it on rice pudding or semolina when we were kids.

    1. Hey Kerryanne
      Thank you for your comment. It’s good to hear that cinnamon was recommended to your hubby by a healthcare practitioner.

      The version of cinnamon you buy it’s probably cassia. It is easily found in supermarkets and is cheaper compared to ceylon. In any case the label on the product will say which one is it.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  6. I had no idea there was more than one type of cinnamon! That was a huge shock to me and I am a trained chef!
    I also did not know it could be used to lower blood sugar levels (without the sugar of course!) This artice was a real eye opener! Thanks for posting!

  7. To us in India, everything tastes good with cinnamon. I especially love my daily morning and evening tea with cinnamon. We get some superlative qualities of cinnamon in this country and the health benefits have been recorded in our history and are passed down through generations.
    Great article.

    1. Hi Apani
      India and other parts of Asia have a history of using the best spices and herbs mother earth can offer. These herbs have been used for their traditional medicines for centuries, apart from using them for cooking.

  8. Cinnamon is my husband’s favorite spice! Espcially when he can top his homemade apple sauce with it. I had no idea there are two different kinds, so I am going to check the bottle later on.
    Nature is so good for us, isn’t it. All these health benefits simply by watching what we eat. Marvelous. Thank you so much for this article!

    1. Hey Hannie

      Nature is indeed good for us if only we can take care of it as well. I’m glad to hear that your husband loves the spice, its really a very aromatic spice, especially for desserts.

  9. Great and very interesting post, I had no clue that there were different types of cinnamon. For me, cinnamon was only one. But is great to know what cinnamon is good for you and all the benefits that you have cleverly put together.
    I am a fan of cinnamon on my Capuccino and back home is very popular the rice pudding to which once served we top up with cinnamon powder.
    Thanks for this great information.

    1. Hey Pablo
      Thank you for your comment. Yes, a pudding is not complete without a sprinkle of cinnamon which makes it taste so devine.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Fantastic information about cinnamon. I knew that it was good for sugar levels, but did not know about memory and learning abilities. I did not know that there was more than 1 type and that some have health risks. Thanks so much for sharing.


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