Cinnamon dilemma

The Cinnamon Dilemma

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Cinnamon is one of the healthiest spices in the world and has been used as a traditional herbal medicine for centuries. However, there are different types of cinnamon–and they’re not created similarly.

There’s a big difference among the varieties due to a wide selection from across the world.

The use of cinnamon dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was used as a medicine, a spice, and as an embalming agent.

Cinnamon was so valued that it was considered more precious than gold at the time. This was due to its scarcity and multiple uses.

Some of the earliest mentions of cinnamon are in the Bible, and it was already important in civilizations dating back to 2000 B.C.

Cinnamon’s importance would continue on an upward trajectory with the Chinese and Europeans using it as both a spice and healing agent.

The source of cinnamon remained widely unknown, despite its growing popularity due to its delicious taste and healing properties.

As a result, it became one of the most popular goods traded in many parts of the world–all the way up to the 1700s.

Cinnamon comes from a tree, particularly the bark, and it’s commonly sold as a ground powder…

And there’re 2 major types–Cassia cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon.

In most circles, the cassia variety is referred to as “fake” cinnamon, and the Ceylon type as the “true” cinnamon.

The most commonly available type in supermarkets is likely the cassia variety. In fact, the “fake” type accounts for more than 90% of what is available all the over.

There are 3 elements of essential oils in cinnamon, which make it a powerful spice. These elements are: cinnamyl alcohol, cinnamaldehyde, and cinnamyl acetate.

Cinnamyl alcohol is typically used in fragrances and cosmetic products, while cinnamyl acetate is used in products like hair conditioners and shampoos.

All in all, these three elements are anti-fungal and antibacterial agents, and combine to make cinnamon a very potent, antioxidant-filled spice.

One of the most important health benefits of cinnamon is its anti-clotting ability, which comes from cinnamaldehyde.

According to scientific research, cinnamaldehyde stops unwanted clumping of blood platelets. Indeed, it acts as a natural anti-clotting agent.

Blood platelets can clump together to trigger clotting when circumstances warrant it–like when you accidentally cut your skin open–to stop the bleeding and create a scab.

But unwanted clumping–without extenuating circumstances–is deadly as it can lead to clots with fatal consequences.

The good news is that cinnamaldehyde helps to prevent excessive clumping of platelets by stopping the release of arachidonic acid, which is an inflammatory fatty acid.

Yet another health benefit of cinnamon is its ability to help regulate blood sugar. Interestingly, if you season a higher carbohydrate food with cinnamon, it can help ease the effect of the food on your blood sugar.

Consuming cinnamon causes a better insulin response as well.

Studies have shown that compounds in cinnamon stop an enzyme that blocks insulin cell receptors, leading to a better response. This helps in evacuating sugar from the bloodstream.

One scientific study showed that when given cinnamon, high sugar diets became almost comparable to normal diets.

Scientists conducting the study noted changes in mRNA coding, specifically for proteins related to memory, insulin sensitivity, and Alzheimer’s. This, however, doesn’t license you to overindulge sugar.

And the streak of benefits continues…

Because cinnamon is also a very strong antioxidant, helping fight oxidative damage in the cells.

It’s also acclaimed for stopping growth bacteria as well as fungi, including the candida yeast.

As if the foregoing is not enough…

One scientific study found that cinnamon could enhance cognitive processing. This amazing research found that multiple parts of the brain were enhanced, resulting in an overall better memory.

Revisiting the 2 varieties…

Cassia and Ceylon have somewhat comparable flavors…

Cassia is slightly bitter and commonly available and cheaper.

On the other hand, Ceylon is lighter brown, softer, sweeter, and harder to find in most retail outlets. It’s also more expensive and you’ve to typically head to a specialty store to find the “true” cinnamon.

The cassia (aka “fake”) cinnamon contains a very high amount of coumarin–a toxic flavoring substance.

The fake cinnamon typically contains over 1000 times more coumarin compared with the real cinnamon.

Large amounts of coumarin could potentially cause health problems such as liver damage, especially if used for a prolonged period.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that it’s very hard to determine the type of cinnamon found in a bottle or package. This may leave you with the option of looking at cinnamon sticks and trying to pick between the real and the fake.

Remember, the Ceylon sticks are lighter and softer in appearance. And if the worse comes to the worst…and this option isn’t available for you…

You can purchase real, organic cinnamon.

It’s worth-noting that just because cinnamon is labeled Ceylon does not necessarily mean it’s organic.

Always strive for organic as it loads far greater health benefits than the non-organic variety.

And…there you are–now you know!

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