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Cinnamon Health Benefits Proven

Even if you rarely cook or bake, if you have anything in your cupboard in the way of spices, cinnamon is probably one of them. The warming, fragrant powder harvested from the bark of a tropical evergreen bush not only is tasty in a plethora of dishes both sweet and savory, but has a long history of use as a medicinal. Ayurvedic medicine originated in India more than 3,000 years ago.

Maharishi Ayurveda Products International (MAPI) notes that cinnamon is often used for Ayurvedic recipes to enhance the bioavailability of other herbs while combining a delicious mixture of sweet, pungent and bitter tastes, and to spice desserts and sweet dishes in the West. In Indian cooking, however, it’s more often used to spice rich rice and vegetable dishes.1

There are around 250 different species of the plant, and they’re scattered across the entire planet. Cinnamon bark is the most often-used source, but twigs and leaves from the tree are also incorporated. Healthline2 notes there are two main types of cinnamon.

  • There’s“true” cinnamon, aka Ceylon cinnamon, from the Cinnamomum verum tree, native to Sri Lanka and southern India. It’s described as tan-to-brown in color with many tight sticks, a highly desirable quality and texture, mildly sweet and good for cooking and desserts. Less common and more expensive, the oil contains 50 percent to 63 percent cinnamaldehyde.
  • The more common dollar-store variety, called cassia, comes from the Cinnamomum cassia tree, or Cinnamomum aromaticum, which originated in Southern China but is now grown across Eastern and Southern Asia. It’s the variety found in most stores and is comparatively less expensive, with 95 percent of its oil being cinnamaldehyde.

Cassia cinnamon has been shown to contain high amounts of coumarin, which can cause liver damage. In fact, one study showed 63 times more coumarin in cassia cinnamon than the Ceylon variety in powder form, and 18 times more than in Ceylon sticks. That’s another reason why Ceylon is recommended above cassia, CNN noted.3

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