Cinnamon is popular for a reason. Its sweet and warming taste is the perfect addition to so many sweet and savoury dishes. But Ceylon cinnamon isn’t just delicious, it’s good for you too. Boasting an impressive range of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antifungal properties, Ceylon cinnamon can help keep you feeling your best.
Ceylon cinnamon: The lowdown
If you thought all cinnamon was the same, you’d be mistaken. In actual fact, there are two varieties of this spice: Cassia and Ceylon, or ‘true’ cinnamon. And the former is more common than you might think with much of what you find in the supermarkets actually being Cassia. So what’s the difference between Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia?
In terms of taste, the differences are subtle but noticeable. The rarer Ceylon spice has a sweeter taste than Cassia, making it ideal for adding to desserts. The most important difference, however, is in the quantity of coumarin present in both varieties. Coumarin has been shown to be toxic to the liver and kidneys, which can negate any health benefits of cinnamon, and pose a risk for those taking blood thinners. This chemical is present in much higher concentrations in Cassia than in Ceylon cinnamon – in fact, there’s 1,000 times more coumarin in Cassia cinnamon.
In addition, most of the scientific studies into the health properties of cinnamon are carried out on pure Ceylon cinnamon. This means that for the best health benefits, it’s always a good idea to hunt out the real deal.
4 health benefits of Ceylon cinnamon
1. Packed full of antioxidants
The best superfoods are packed with antioxidants. Helping our bodies in the fight against free radicals, antioxidants play a vital role in keeping us healthy and slowing the aging process. And luckily, cinnamon is packed with them. In fact, researchers have identified 41 different protective compounds in Ceylon cinnamon, making it one of the most antioxidant-rich foods in the world.
2. Can reduce inflammation
Cinnamon’s nutritional clout means it has some pretty impressive anti-inflammatory credentials too. Not only does this mean that cinnamon can help reduce the pain and swelling linked to conditions like arthritis, but it can also potentially help prevent diseases associated with inflammation like dementia, heart disease and even cancer.
3. May regulate blood sugar
Results from a clinical study published in the Diabetes Care journal suggest that cinnamon improves blood glucose and cholesterol levels in people with Type 2 diabetes, and may reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It does this by reducing the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal, as well as mimicking insulin. This is great news for those suffering from diabetes or at risk of developing the disease.
4. May boost brain power
If you’re a huge fan of cinnamon, we have good news: research suggests that chewing cinnamon flavoured gum or even smelling the spice can help boost brain power. The research, led by Dr. P. Zoladz, found that cinnamon enhances cognitive processing, attention, memory and visual-motor speed. Additionally, a 2011 study suggested that cinnamon’s positive effect on the brain means it might be useful in preventing various neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
Cinnamon is packed full of incredible health benefits. But as with any superfood, it’s essential that you buy organic, high quality products to maximise the health potential of cinnamon. In this case, look out for pure Ceylon cinnamon powder for a superfood spice with an impressive nutritional kick.