True Cinnamon Boasts Some Sweet Benefits—Here's How to Tell if You're Eating the Real Deal
You probably have a bottle of cinnamon sitting far in the back of your spice cabinet that you've been using, slowly but surely, for a long time. Maybe you've even forgotten all about that bottle of cinnamon, only breaking it out when it's time to whip up a batch of pumpkin muffins. But it's time to move it to the front of the shelf and enjoy all its important health benefits.
Karen Graham, RDN, functional medicine dietitian, shares that she learned about the different types of cinnamon after touring a spice farm in Costa Rica and observing how cinnamon is processed with her own eyes. (You might also be surprised to learn that cinnamon actually comes from tree bark!) "This is where I learned that there's only one 'true cinnamon,' and it's native to Sri Lanka. It's called Ceylon cinnamon."
As Graham explains, not all types of cinnamon are alike, and there are a few things you should know before buying the first one you see. "Other cinnamons, such as Korintje cinnamon and Saigon (or Vietnamese) cinnamon, are related [to Ceylon cinnamon], but they are not 'true cinnamon.'" Korintje and Saigon cinnamon are technically varieties of cassia. Cassia is in the same family as cinnamon, but cassia cinnamon contains the chemical compound coumarin, which should not be consumed in large doses, as it can be toxic to the liver, unlike the true cinnamon, which contains very low levels of coumarin. "If the package doesn't specify a name, then you can assume its cassia," says Graham. "Ceylon, which has many health benefits in high amounts, is the only cinnamon I recommend." All this to say, to truly reap the health benefits of cinnamon, read your labels closely! Here are just a few healthy reasons to move cinnamon to the front and center of your spice rack.