The Virtues of “True Cinnamon”

Cinnamon dates back to 2800 B.C., it is native to an island located on the southeastern  tip of India, called Sri Lanka formerly known as Ceylon.  Over time, this spice has played an important role in economies, it was so highly valued that wars were fought over it. Cinnamon was also one of the earliest spices transported by boat.

Recently it has also been touted as a health cure for everything from reducing bad or LDL cholesterol to the reduction of proliferation of leukemia cancer cells to improving the health of diabetics.

A recent study from Cogenhagen University reported that patients who were given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder with one tablespoon of honey every day in the morning received a significant relief from arthritis pain after only one week on this regimen.

Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians used cinnamon as part of their embalming process.  Which makes sense when you realize that adding cinnamon to food has also been shown to inhibit bacterial growth and prevent spoilage, making it an ideal natural food preservative too.

Other studies completed at Kansas State University showed that cinnamon may also help fight the E. coli bacteria and proliferation in unpasteurized juices.  It has also been suggested that simply by smelling cinnamon you may be able to boost cognitive function and memory.

The confusion arises about which kind of cinnamon to use to reap all the benefits of this amazing spice.  Although cinnamon has nutrients like maganese, iron and calcium it is also high in antioxidants which are important to the healing process.  Its oils are used in Ayurvedic medicine topically to treat rheumatism, aching joints and stiffness.

There are two most common types of cinnamon one is from Ceylon, it is often called  “true cinnamon, it can be more expensive and has a sweeter milder taste than its counterpart called, cassia cinnamon which is native to China. Ceylon cinnamon is usually found in speciality stores whereas cassia is sold generally in supermarkets. Ceylon cinnamon bark has a darker color than Cassia cinnamon which is usually a reddish-brown color.  Other differences are the bark of ceylon cinnamon is finer, not as dense and has a crumbly texture whereas cassia’s bark is woody and thicker.

The layers of bark of both types of cinnamon are made into quills and can be ground, although it is easier to grind Ceylon cinnamon than cassia.

It is claimed that cassia cinnamon should not be eaten in large quantities as it has more coumarins (blood thinners) than ceylon cinnamon and can be toxic to your liver.  It is advised to use cassia cinnamon only sparingly and not in teaspoon amounts, the safer option would be to consider purchasing high quality Ceylon cinnamon from a reputable source.

Certainly as with all claims you would be advised to check with your physician before starting any dietary program that might interfere with your current health program.

Spices have always played an integral part in cultures and still do today. Cinnamon is still considered a fundamental flavoring used in cooking and for health purposes.  One favorite recipe that uses spices is Chai tea which calls for cinnamon.  Here is an easy one to try and experiment for your own taste and satisfaction.  Enjoy!

Chai Tea

In a saucepan simmer 6 teaspoons of black tea in 2 1/2 cups of water and 2 cups of 2% milk or soy milk.

Add :

  • 1 teaspoon of ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh Ginger, finely cut
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon of crushed Cardamom Seeds
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon of crushed Cloves

Simmer for 30 minutes, add honey or sweetner to taste.





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