Cinnamon - history, varieties and health benefits
Cinnamon has a rich and exotic history over the last 4000+ years. It has been used in foods as a medicine, a spice, to preserve meats, and was seen as a luxury item only accessible to the wealthy. Ancient Egyptians even used cinnamon as an embalming agent. Arab merchants, who kept the source of this ingredient a secret for many years, distributed cinnamon in limited quantities in order to maintain a monopoly on the expensive cinnamon trade.
Today, there are two varieties of cinnamon that we encounter most frequently. Cinnamonium cassia (cassia cinnamon) and Cinnamonium zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon). Some people refer to Ceylon cinnamon as true cinnamon. There is some debate on the superiority of Ceylon cinnamon vs. cassia.
- Offers a more delicate flavour, and is slightly sweeter. Excellent for use in desserts.
- Considered by some to be the superior cinnamon, and is more expensive than Cassia.
- According to Health Canada’s Natural Health Products database, Cassia can be used to treat bowel complaints (dyspepsia, flatulency, diarrhea and vomiting), and increase appetite. It is also a source of antioxidants.
- Lower levels of coumarin (an anti-coagulant, can thin blood) when compared to Cassia.
- A stronger, spicer flavour. Excellent for savoury dishes, as well as sweet dishes.
- Cassia is the most commonly found variety of cinnamon, and the less expensive of the two.
- According to Health Canada’s Natural Health Products database, Ceylon cinnamon can be used to maintain healthy blood glucose levels, to treat bowel complaints (dyspepsia, flatulency, diarrhea and vomiting), and increase appetite. It is also a source of antioxidants.
- Higer levels of coumarin (an anti-coagulant, can thin blood) when compared to Ceylon. Note that studies have been done that indicate levels of coumarin in Cassia are low. A person would have to ingest 2-2.5 kilograms of Cassia cinnamon in one day to present any real danger.
- As the more commonly found variety of cinnamon, Cassia has been used most frequently in studies. It is very possible that most of the studies that you’ve encountered when reading about the health benefits of cinnamon were done with Cassia.
- Some studies on cassia have shown a relation to glycemic control in those with Type 2 Diabetes.
So, what is our conclusion? Ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon are two varieties that have many noticeable differences (appearance and taste), but in terms of health benefits, they offer very similar properties.
Traditional medicine has used cassia for thousands of years. Some of the uses were to treat the following ailments:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of appetite
- Cold and flu
Cinnamon can be used many different ways. In cooking, topically, and of course, in teas! Shanti Tea sells organic cinnamon pieces, cinnamon powder, and a variety of tea blends containing cinnamon. Try Cinnamon Chai or Cinnamon Dulce de Leche, two of our most popular cinnamony blends!
Wondering how to use cinnamon for your business?
Cinnamon pieces are an excellent ingredient to have on hand in the winter. Use these to add some flavour and warmth to exisiting tea blends, or mix in with coffee for a delcious, natural, organic sweetener. Cinnamon powder can be used in the same way, but also works great to add to a Matcha Latte or London Fog. Plus, our organic cinnamon powder is excellent as an ingredient in cooking and baking.
Simple changes such as this are a great way to promote existing products that aren't selling as much as you might like, or a way to turn a customer favourite into a seasonal special. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about cinnamon and how you can use it to help with your sales.