If you were to ask anyone on the street what the most popular spice in the world is they’d probably say cinnamon.
Cinnamon is found in virtually every kitchen and is used year round, though its use spikes during the colder months. Its warm taste and unmatched fragrance and sweetness is hard to beat.
If you follow health trends, you’ve probably seen cinnamon in the news a lot lately.
Wellness leaders are touting its nutrient profile, claiming it has incredible health benefits.
However, it's not your average kitchen cinnamon they’re talking about.
It's a lesser known and yet far more potent version known as Ceylon cinnamon.
What Is Ceylon Cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the back of cinnamon tree. Several years ago, it was determined that the bark of the cinnamon tree contained a number of compounds with beneficial health-promoting properties once ground and consumed.
Currently, there are two primary types of cinnamon, though other varieties exist. The two most common types are:
- Ceylon cinnamon (commonly called “true” or “real” cinnamon)
- Cassia cinnamon (often labeled as “fake” or "regular" cinnamon. This is the kind you'll find in your cinnamon rolls)
What’s the Difference Between Regular Cinnamon and Ceylon Cinnamon?
There are significant differences between Ceylon and cassia cinnamon. Here are just a few to note:
When you go the supermarket, you are more likely to find cassia (or regular) cinnamon. In fact, cassia cinnamon accounts for close to 90% of all cinnamon imported into the United States.
If you want Ceylon cinnamon, you’ll have to go to a specialty store or online to purchase it.
Since it’s hard to find, Ceylon cinnamon is more expensive than common cassia. Although, as we'll see in the coming sections of this article, the price is worth the added benefits.
Impact on health
Cinnamon, irrespective of the type, contains a flavoring ingredient known as coumarin. In certain doses, coumarin is highly toxic in the human body.
Regular cinnamon contains up to 1000 times more coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon.
For this reason, common cinnamon isn't something you want to eat every day (no matter how good that honeybun cake tastes!).
Ceylon cinnamon is obtained from the back of the tree Cinnamomum verun while cassia cinnamon is obtained from the back of Cinnamomum zeylanicum.
True cinnamon is light brown in color, somewhat thinner and softer in appearance while cassia cinnamon is much darker and more coarse.
Benefits of Ceylon Cinnamon
If you opt for Ceylon cinnamon, there are incredible health benefits to be had.
1. Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants
Researchers now rank cinnamon the 7th of all foods, spices and herbs in terms of their concentration of antioxidants.
In fact, about 41 different compounds have been identified with antioxidant effects in cinnamon by studies.
One remarkable feature of antioxidants is that they delay and/or slow down the aging process. There are three major categories of antioxidants that give cinnamon a competitive edge against other spices and herbs:
- phenolic acid
By preventing oxidative stress in the body, antioxidants in cinnamon also protect against chronic diseases.
They prevent oxidative stress by neutralizing certain free radicals such as reactive oxygen and nitrogen species.
2. Cinnamon is a potent anti-inflammatory agent
Inflammation involves a cascade of events. This means that there are several points where the process can be altered and stopped.
Researchers have determined that the flavonoids in cinnamon help manage inflammatory symptoms because they prevent inflammation at various levels.
That's why we formulated our Organic Anti-Inflammatory Blend with Ceylon cinnamon, along with other potent herbs that work to stop inflammation at its source.
The most common and unpleasant presentation of inflammation is pain. Studies show that cinnamon can be used to effectively reduce muscle soreness, pain during menstruation and allergic reactions.
3. Ceylon cinnamon has protective benefits for the heart
One of the greatest risk factors of heart disease is your lipid profile. The amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in your body will determine if or how soon you suffer from a heart problem.
Cinnamon has been shown to lower elevated cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels in the body.
Problems with blood pressure can also increase your risk for heart disease, and studies have shown that cinnamon can help lower elevated blood pressure.
Besides that, cinnamon is useful in hemostasis – the process of maintaining a normal physiological profile of blood.
It is a coagulant and therefore prevents excessive blood loss in certain conditions.
Its remarkable benefits in maintaining the integrity of blood vessels also helps increase blood circulation as well as stimulate rapid tissue repair.
4. Cinnamon helps stabilize blood sugar
Ever wonder why cinnamon is considered one of the best foods for diabetics? That's because it helps control blood sugar.
The mechanism is pretty straightforward:
It increases the body's sensitivity to insulin - the hormone responsible for lowering elevated blood sugar levels.
Once sensitivity to insulin is increased, insulin then causes increased utilization of glucose. The overall effect is a reduction in blood sugar levels that were initially elevated.
Studies have also shown that Ceylon cinnamon can slow down the absorption of sugars from your intestines after a meal, especially when that meal is high in carbs.
5. Ceylon cinnamon preserves and optimizes brain function
The neuroprotective role of cinnamon is based on its antioxidant effects.
Research indicates that cinnamon is very helpful in preventing and alleviating symptoms of disorders related to the central nervous system such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Cinnamon is also believed to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, though there are no human-based studies to validate this point. The concept has only been proven by studies in vitro.
Brain functions are preserved while decline in cognitive functions are prevented because cinnamon protects neurons against oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
6. Cinnamon helps fight infections
Ceylon cinnamon is naturally antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. The essential oils in cinnamon also have immune-boosting effects that help in augmenting your ability to fight off infections.
People who supplement with Ceylon cinnamon are less likely to suffer severe symptoms of diseases such as pneumonia, strep throat and the common cold as shown in certain studies.
The benefits of Ceylon cinnamon are extensive, and its use and application even more widespread. If you haven't already, we encourage you to research Ceylon cinnamon for yourself and consider adding it to your regular wellness routine.