Ceylon Cinnamon: Top 8 Things To Know About The “True Cinnamon”

Ceylon Cinnamon
Category: Food ingredients
Posted By: Greenjeeva

One of the healthiest spices on the planet, cinnamon can transform the taste of many dishes. As a matter of fact, it was considered more valuable than gold. Mesmerized? Well, yes you should be! Because the subtly sweet spice has numerous health benefits and even a pinch of Ceylon cinnamon can add sweetness and flavour to your snacks with no extra sugar.

However, do you have any idea what kind of cinnamon are you eating? Is it safe for your health? Are you curious to know all about it? Read ahead.

For the record, there are two main kinds of cinnamons, namely, Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon. In fact, there are so many ambiguities surrounding cinnamons about its composition depending upon the region it is sourced. Furthermore, these differences are not just a matter of taste but can affect your health as well.

With this article, you can also check out some delicious recipes incorporating Ceylon cinnamon, if you are a food-lover! Stick until the last full stop not to miss out on any information about this amazing spice.

#1. Ceylon Cinnamon: Exploring the Spice

Also regarded as “True Cinnamon”, Ceylon cinnamon is obtained from the inner barks of the Cinnamomum zeylanicum tree that grows in Sri Lanka and South India. 

Ceylon cinnamon is tan-brown and contains numerous sticks with soft layers. Such features provide this spice a highly desirable texture as well as quality. 

People describe the spice to have a mild and delicate sweet flavour that can be incorporated easily in dishes and desserts. Apart from this, Ceylon also contains a milder aroma that will help you differentiate it from other types of cinnamons available in the market. 

In order to obtain Ceylon cinnamon, the inner barks of the tree are dried. Subsequently, the bark obtained curls into rolls or sticks known as cinnamon sticks. Next, the sticks are ground into a powder that you can refer to as Ceylon cinnamon powder

However, Ceylon cinnamon is less available, as a result, quite expensive. Not all health food stores keep it, hence, finding it is tricky for you. But no worries when you can leverage the power of internet. You can initiate your search for Ceylon cinnamon on so many websites available and choose the one that is best suitable.

Since it is quite difficult to incorporate cinnamon into your diet regularly, you can go for organic Ceylon cinnamon supplements. In this way, you can get the benefits of true cinnamon daily in a convenient manner. 

#2. The History

The rich history of true cinnamon dates to around 2800 BC in Chinese writings. In fact, in the Cantonese language, it goes by the name of “kwai”

Besides, the botanical name of cinnamon is derived from the Arabic and Hebraic term “amomon” which means a plant with fragrant spice. Furthermore, Ancient Egyptians also used it in the process of embalming. On the other hand, Italians called this spice as “Canella”, which means “Little Tube” taken from the word “Cannon” signifying cinnamon sticks.

  • Medieval Physicians used the spice in medicines for treating cough, sore throats, and hoarseness. People used cinnamon as a preservative for meat because the spice contains phenols inhibiting bacteria from spoilage. 
  • Around the 17th century, the Dutch annexed the largest source of Ceylon cinnamon in Sri Lanka from the Portuguese. 
  • By the 1800s, many countries found that the spice can be grown in regions like Java, Mauritius, Sumatra, etc. Now, cinnamon is grown in many tropical climates, the West Indies and South America. 

#3. Differences from Cassia

In most kitchens across the globe, people buying cinnamon from groceries and supermarkets are not the true cinnamon. In fact, it is Cassia cinnamon derived from the plant botanically named “Cinnamomum Cassia”. Many people refer it to as Chinese cinnamon because it grows typically in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Nevertheless, the two cinnamon species share some characteristics, their contents actually differ. Precisely, coumarin is a substance occurring naturally and has strong properties of blood thinning. (1)

Surprisingly, cassia cinnamon contains 1200 times higher coumarin content than Ceylon cinnamon which has a negligibly small level. Researches reveal that ingesting large amounts of coumarin for extended periods can pose severe health issues and can possibly damage the kidney and liver. (2)

Ceylon Cinnamon

Cassia Cinnamon

Originates mostly from Sri Lanka and South India.

Grows in regions like China, Indonesia and Vietnam.

A highly valued medicinal and culinary spice. It’s expensive with its price a lot more than cassia cinnamon.

Very cheap and commonly available across the world in many groceries and markets.

A negligible coumarin content. It can be used regularly.

High levels of coumarin is harmful for the kidney and liver when consumed in excessive amounts. Safe for occasional use.

The texture of the bark is paper like thin that forms different layers when it is rolled up.

The texture of the bark is uneven and thick that forms a smaller number of layers when it is rolled up.

The colour is tan brown.

Its colour is reddish dark brown.

It is fragile and can easily be broken.

It is usually tough and difficult to grind in order to make it powder.

Sweet and delicate taste creating an excellent profile in terms of flavouring. Widely used in desserts, cakes and pastries.

Its taste is pungent and is suitable for meat recipes.

So, are you amazed by the above-mentioned differences? If yes, then spread the information around. Because a very few people are aware of this difference although they use this spice in their kitchen regularly. 

#4. Nutritional Content

Notably, Ceylon cinnamon possesses a floral flavour and is not that warm as cassia. The spice has a subtle flavour with vanilla and citrus hints. Ceylon cinnamon is believed to possess lots of health benefits due to the bioactive constituents present in it. 

  • Terpenoids:

Terpenoids are the phytochemicals existing in Ceylon cinnamon with so many health benefits. They have been used by traditional medicine practitioners for ages for their medicinal benefits. 

The pharmaceutical industry at present uses terpenoids for making some drugs. As a matter of fact, Ceylon cinnamon is richer in terpenoids than that of cassia cinnamon.

  • Cinnamic Acid:

Cinnamic acid is another bioactive constituent present in Ceylon cinnamon which is a powerful antioxidant. 

  • Cinnamaldehyde

The compound responsible for providing the flavour and aroma to Ceylon cinnamon is cinnamaldehyde. This compound has health benefits as well. (3)

In addition to these bioactive compounds, Ceylon cinnamon is a rich source of so many nutrition and essentials vitamins. It contains carbohydrates, little amount of proteins and fat, water, etc. Here is the nutritional profile of Ceylon cinnamon that you must know. As per USDA, the US Department of Agriculture, one teaspoon of ground cinnamon weighing about 2.6 grams contains:

Carbohydrates

· Sugar: 0.01 g

· Dietary Fibre: 2.09 g

Vitamins

· Vitamin A: 8 IU

· Vitamin C: 0.1 mg

· Vitamin B, E, and K in traces

Minerals

· Calcium: 26 mg

· Iron: 0.2 mg

· Magnesium: 2 mg

· Phosphorus: 2 mg

· Potassium: 11 mg

· Traces of Manganese, Sodium, and Zinc

#5. Benefits: Ceylon Cinnamon & Your Health

Many a time, you enjoy having those tasty pastries and smoothies sprinkled with Ceylon cinnamon. But, do you know that they have health benefits as well? If NO, then here is a chance for you to explore. On the contrary, if your answer is YES, you can still read ahead to understand what you know is true or not and to what extent.

Moreover, the cheap cinnamon might take a toll on your health all thanks to coumarin, a plant compound present in cassia. Because the compound concentration in cassia is 1200 times higher than Ceylon cinnamon. 

As a matter of fact, some researches reveal that coumarin can act as a blood thinner that can possibly be harmful to your kidneys and liver. However, with Ceylon cinnamon, you are in safe heavens. So, here are some of its possible health benefits.

  1. Ceylon Cinnamon and Cholesterol Level Regulation

As per a study appearing in the National Library of Medicine, USA, it was revealed that Ceylon cinnamon can help in boosting HDL cholesterol. For the record, HDL cholesterol is good cholesterol which improves the total cholesterol in your systems. (4)

Furthermore, this “good” cholesterol can also reduce health risks concerning cholesterol.

  1. Ceylon Cinnamon and Memory-Enhancement

Are you surprised to read “Ceylon cinnamon and memory-enhancement”? Well, don’t be. Because, according to a study, nutraceuticals derived from certain spices, for instance, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, etc. might be vital to support brain health. (5)

Furthermore, some researches also cite that bioactive constituents present in it can also slow down brain aging by increasing brain activity. (6)

  1. Ceylon Cinnamon and Blood Sugar Regulation

A study from the Diabetes Care Journal showcases promising results on humans with Type-2 diabetes. According to the reports, those people consumed this cinnamon for about 40 days along with a washout period of 20 days. (7)

Surprisingly, they experienced about 7-27 % reduction in the level of LDL cholesterol with a 12-26 % reduction in the total cholesterol levels. 

Similarly, other studies also reflect that taking cinnamon supplements might play a crucial tole for supporting blood sugar regulation. The idea is supported by the fact that glucose levels present in the blood can return to normal with Ceylon cinnamon.

  1. Ceylon Cinnamon and Inflammation

Inflammation can be the root cause of all pains and aches for many. In several instances, aches or pains can be related to inflammation. 

However, one of the active constituents present in cinnamon is proanthocyanidins, an antioxidant that can help people dealing with aches or pains. (8)

Furthermore, there are still some researches going on to understand the extended benefits of Ceylon cinnamon. Given the risks associated with cassia, if you prefer Ceylon over cassia, it would be a smart choice, indeed! 

Nevertheless, do not risk yourself by consuming too much of this spice and always consult a professional before taking the supplements for proper dosage.

#6. Mouth-Watering Recipes Incorporating Ceylon Cinnamon

Ceylon cinnamon is typically added to toasts and even baked into your favourite pastries. However, there are so many delicious ways you can incorporate the spice into your diet. Numerous Mexican, Indian, North African and Middle Eastern cuisines use the spice as the primary one. 

So, here are some must-try mouth-watering recipes incorporating Ceylon cinnamon.

  • Cinnamon-roasted almonds as tasty and healthy snacks.
  • Cinnamon twists for breakfast treat or a fun dessert.
  • Streusel Galette with apple cinnamon can be your best Thanksgiving meal!
  • Cinnamon Rolls in your breakfast table!
  • Bread pudding with cinnamon raisins as dinner.

#7. Market Insight

Cinnamon is forecasted to see significant demand with 14.2% CAGR from 2019-2015. In the year 2018, Ceylon cinnamon saw the dominant share of over 35% in the international market. By taking this year as the base year, market analysts expect the figure to soar even higher towards the year 2015. (9)

Since Ceylon cinnamon is used in so many Mexican cuisines, Mexico is emerging as one of the major consumers of the “true” cinnamon. Furthermore, the demand is also high in top global markets such as Europe with countries like the UK, Italy, and Belgium; India, the US, etc.

The reason behind remains the same as the spice has ultra-low coumarin in it plus the unique flavour. Not to mention, the health benefits associated with Ceylon cinnamon makes it demand in pharmaceutical, food and beverages, cosmetics and supplement industries as well. 

By the looks of the global Ceylon cinnamon application, the spice held the highest share of more than 50% in the global household segment in 2018. Because several dishes are rising from all over the world incorporating the spice due to its spicy yet sweet taste.

Like last year, the spice would continue to remain demanding throughout the forecast period of 2019-2025.

#8. Safety and Possible Side Effect

  • When taken in limited amounts during pregnancy, Ceylon cinnamon is likely to be safe as per researches. However, if the amount exceeds, it might pose health risks during pregnancy. (10)
  • There is not enough data available for taking larger amounts during breast-feeding. Therefore, to avoid any side effects better be on the safe harbor by sticking to small amounts. 
  • Ceylon cinnamon may lower blood sugar for humans with Type-2 diabetes. (11)
  • In a similar fashion, the spice may cause the blood pressure to drop for people having low blood pressure issues. (12)

Therefore, monitor your health regularly in case you fall in any of these categories. And, to prevent any side effects, it is always recommended to consult a professional.

Bottom Line

These were the top 8 things you must know about Ceylon cinnamon or “true cinnamon”. The spice is undoubtedly, a highly-flavored spice that gives you added advantage in terms of your health.

You can consume it with anyways you find suitable but make sure you do not exceed the recommended amounts. BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY!

REFERENCES

  1. Rashidia SA, Manteghia F. Synthesis and identification of N-[(2-pyridyl) methyliden]-6-coumarin complex of Pt (IV).
  2. Fotland, Paulsen JE, Sanner T, Alexander J, Husøy T. Risk assessment of coumarin using the benchmark dose (BMD) approach: Children in Norway which regularly eat oatmeal porridge with cinnamon may exceed the TDI for coumarin with several folds. Food and chemical toxicology. 2012 Mar 1;50(3-4):903-12.
  3. Camacho S, Michlig S, de Senarclens-Bezençon C, Meylan J, Meystre J, Pezzoli M, Markram H, Le Coutre J. Anti-obesity and anti-hyperglycemic effects of cinnamaldehyde via altered ghrelin secretion and functional impact on food intake and gastric emptying. Scientific reports. 2015 Jan 21; 5:7919.
  4. Mollazadeh H, Hosseinzadeh H. Cinnamon effects on metabolic syndrome: a review based on its mechanisms. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences. 2016 Dec;19(12):1258.
  5. Strupp BJ, Bunsey M, Bertsche B, Levitsky DA, Kesler M. Enhancement and impairment of memory retrieval by a vasopressin metabolite: an interaction with the accessibility of the memory. Behavioral neuroscience. 1990 Apr;104(2):268.
  6. Sartorius T, Peter A, Schulz N, Drescher A, Bergheim I, Machann J, Schick F, Siegel-Axel D, Schürmann A, Weigert C, Häring HU. Cinnamon extract improves insulin sensitivity in the brain and lowers liver fat in mouse models of obesity. PloS one. 2014 Mar 18;9(3):e92358.
  7. Ranasinghe P, Perera S, Gunatilake M, Abeywardene E, Gunapala N, Premakumara S, Perera K, Lokuhetty D, Katulanda P. Effects of Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) on blood glucose and lipids in a diabetic and healthy rat model. Pharmacognosy research. 2012 Apr;4(2):73.
  8. Vetal S, Bodhankar SL, Mohan V, Thakurdesai PA. Anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity of type-A procyanidine polyphenols from bark of Cinnamomum zeylanicum in rats. Food Science and Human Wellness. 2013 Jun 1;2(2):59-67.
  9. Web reference accessed on October 18th, 2019 https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/cinnamon-market
  10. Ranasinghe P, Jayawardena R, Premakumara GA, Katulanda P, Constantine GR, Galappaththy P. Evaluation of pharmacodynamic properties and safety of Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) in health adults: study protocol for a phase I clinical trial. MOJ Bioequivalence Bioavailability. 2017;3(2):28.
  11. Kirkham S, Akilen R, Sharma S, Tsiami A. The potential of cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Diabetes, obesity and metabolism. 2009 Dec;11(12):1100-13.
  12. Ranasinghe P, Pigera S, Premakumara GS, Galappaththy P, Constantine GR, Katulanda P. Medicinal properties of ‘true’cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review. BMC complementary and alternative medicine. 2013 Dec;13(1):275