Not all Cinnamon is created equal!
The ancients around the time of 2000 B.C regarded Ceylon Cinnamon so highly that it was used as a gift for monarchs and in oils of anointing.
The aroma and taste were so exquisite that it was favoured to be used in the presence of kings and as a spice of love.
Made from the inner layer of bark derived from one of many species of cinnamon trees it has become a world loved spice, favoured to enhance many savoury and sweet dishes around the world. These layers of bark also create the most beautiful essential oil.
However, all cinnamon is not created equal due to the different tree species.
In fact they are distinctly different in colour, taste, and nutritional value.
Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) Cinnamon is the original home of what we call true cinnamon, but the trees are also found in the Seychelles. The cultivation of cinnamon fizzled out in Madagascar over the decades due to poor practices but now with new sustainable farming the ban has been lifted, so there is every chance we may see true cinnamon come from this island again.
This cinnamon is made of thin fragile layers of bark which is easy to break into small pieces. It is a light golden colour with a slightly sweeter, more fragrant aroma. The most important factor is that this tree produces cinnamon that is low in coumarin, a natural chemical compound found in some plants which can be moderately toxic to the liver and kidneys when consumed over a long period of time.
Cassia Cinnamon mainly grows in Indonesia and China, with the finest cassia cinnamon coming from Vietnam. Visually you will see the cinnamon sticks are noticeably different from Ceylon’s. The bark is hard and more difficult to break into small pieces, it’s colour is a dark reddish brown and the aroma is spicy and slightly pungent which comes from a higher coumarin content. A German study showed Cassia power contains 63 times more coumarin compared to Celyon cinnamon and the cassia sticks contain 18 times more courmarin than Celyon cinnamon. This cinnamon is more commonly found on our supermarket shelves, offering a lesser price tag than Celyon Cinnamon.
Cinnamon Health Benefit include:
Anti-microbial, anti bacterial, anti-inflammatory, stimulates insulin activity which helps process sugar in the body more efficiently, boosts brain function, warms the body, aids digestion and helps thin the blood.
Recent studies have shown that making a bedtime drink of ½ teaspoon of Ceylon ‘true’ Cinnamon steeped in boiling water before adding one teaspoon of raw honey (wait until the water cools - about 10 mins, before adding in the honey so the enzymes and other nutrients within the honey stay active), was beneficial in many ways.
The results of this study showed the participants came back with comments such as reduced arthritic pain, better sleep, reduce sugar cravings, better mental clarity, improved skin condition - brighter and clearer, and a reduction in body weight.
So once again nature provides us from her bounty with a spice that supports the body for healing itself, but a treasure trove of aroma and subtle sweetness.