Cinnamon is an aromatic spice that adds flavor and richness to your baked goodies or your fresh cup of coffee.
However, did you know that there are two types of cinnamon, and what is considered as "real cinnamon" is not exactly the one commonly found at the supermarket's spice section?
Here, you will learn more about cassia and Ceylon cinnamon, the difference between the two and health benefits that they offer.
Cassia is a spice obtained from the inner bark of Cinnamomum cassia, which is an evergreen tree that grows in East Asia.
It comes with the typical cinnamon flavor and smell that we are familiar with. Yet, it is not as sweet or as dark in color as the Ceylon cinnamon, which is more expensive than cassia.
Moreover, the Ceylon cinnamon comes from Cinnamomum verum, a Sri Lankan variety of evergreen tree.
In terms of health benefits, both of these spices are known to help regulate blood sugar, promote cardiovascular health, improve the blood lipid profiles, and serve as anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agents.
If you are on a low-sugar diet, you can use cinnamon as an alternative to sugar as it can sweeten your food naturally while giving it a delectable taste.
If you want your food to be sweeter, though, it is better to use Ceylon cinnamon as its taste is more delicate and richer than cassia.
A number of studies were made on the health benefits of Ceylon cinnamon. According to a study conducted in 2009, an extract of this spice inhibited two specific features of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
This is a non-conclusive study, however, since the effect of the spice was not tested on humans, but merely in test tubes.
Further studies were made by the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, where Ceylon cinnamon's health benefits were assessed.
In this 2013 study, among the positive effects of this spice to the study participants' health included faster healing of wounds, less episodes of nerve inflammation and pain, improvement of gastric ulcers and increased protection to the liver.
Although both of these spices are obtained from an evergreen tree's inner bark, the variety or specie is different. Cassia is from Cinnamomum cassia while Ceylon cinnamon is taken from Cinnamomum verum.
Furthermore, researchers have discovered that cassia has a huge amount of coumarin in it, which is a compound that is potentially linked to liver damage based on scientific studies.
In fact, cassia cinnamon powder is found to contain about 63 times more of this compound than what Ceylon cinnamon has.
As for the appearance, it is easy to spot Ceylon cinnamon by checking the density of the bark.
Generally, cassia comes with thicker layers of bark with less coils and loosely wound. On the other hand, Ceylon cinnamon sticks have thinner barks that are tightly coiled.
You can also instantly tell them apart by checking labels. In most cases, cinnamon products that are not labeled are cassia, so it is best to check the label if it states Ceylon or Sri Lankan cinnamon.