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Cinnamon—Tastes Great & It’s Great for You!

Jill-Ann Ouellette

Who doesn’t like cinnamon? There are many reasons to add more cinnamon to your diet. Cinnamon is a spice that has been prized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. Made from the inner bark of cinnamon trees, it has been used to improve conditions such as fever, inflammation, common colds, and diarrhea. Available in most grocery and health-food stores, cinnamon can be purchased in the form of cinnamon sticks, fine powder, tea, oil, and supplements. Is all cinnamon equal in beneficial qualities and taste? No, not exactly.

In recent years, modern science has started to confirm many of the potential health benefits associated with cinnamon. reports that research suggests it may help manage blood sugar, protect against heart disease, and reduce inflammation. It may also improve gut health, dental hygiene (by inhibiting bacteria), reduce cholesterol levels, and lower blood pressure. Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants (containing polyphenols), is antimicrobial, can be anticancer (as published in European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry), and is linked to having activities against neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. For example, several of cinnamon’s bioactive compounds appear to block a protein called tau from accumulating in the brain, which is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Ceylon cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka and southern parts of India. It has a soft texture and a savory flavor. There are several other types of cinnamon. Saigon, is referred to as Vietnamese cinnamon and has a bold, spicy flavor with a hint of sweetness. Cassia cinnamon is from China and widely available throughout the world. It has a rough texture and spicy-sweet flavor. Korintje is grown in Indonesia and has the most subtle, sweet flavor with a hint of spice.

The unique properties of cinnamon come from its essential oils and compounds, particularly cinnamaldehyde. This compound gives cinnamon its flavor and aroma, and is also responsible for many of its health benefits. Cassia and Saigon cinnamon have a stronger flavor than Ceylon, because 95% of their oil is cinnamaldehyde. All types of cinnamon are healthy at dosages of less than six grams (1 teaspoon has 4.2 grams) a day. As Cassia and Saigon both have the higher cinnamaldehyde oil concentrations than Ceylon, which has 50 to 63% of its oil being cinnamaldehyde, they should be consumed in smaller quanities­­—less than six grams a day. Therefore, Ceylon is the safest cinnamon to use in larger quantities.

Even if you are healthy, drinking cinnamon tea after dinner can reduce blood-sugar levels at night, which can protect your metabolism, prevent metabolic disease, and promote weight loss. Additionally, this spice appears to reduce appetite, which is a great way to curb late-night snacking.

At the end of the day, Ceylon, known as “true cinnamon,” is the best quality and the safest one to use.

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