Welcome to the second edition of Sunday spice with mohealth! The first spice up is one of my favorites and full of healthy benefits. Cinnamon comes from the dried bark of the cinnamon tree. It is usually used in powdered form but the bark can also be rolled into cinnamon sticks or cut into small chips that are used in tea.
There are two types of cinnamon that are used as a spice – Ceylon and Cassia. Korintje, Indonesian, Chinese and Vietnamese (Saigon) cinnamons are considered types of Cassia. Ceylon is referred to as true cinnamon and is a higher quality cinnamon, however, Cassia is more common in the US and less expensive. Taste wise Cassia is a lot as milder and sweeter while Ceylon is sharper and more bitter.
Cinnamon is commonly used in Ayurveda for numerous reasons including balancing digestion and pacifying stomach disorders. It is also used to enhance the bioavailability of other herbs. It is considered a warming spice and pacifies Kapha Dosha and balances Vata Dosha.
Cinnamon oil is used to pacify headaches and maintain joint health. Boiling cinnamon sticks or chips with ginger and black pepper makes a great tea to help sooth cold symptoms. It is used widely in desserts and other sweet dishes in eastern and western cooking. In Indian cooking it is also used to spice rice and vegetable dishes.
Research has shown that cinnamon is rich in antioxidants, lowers cholesterol and blood sugar. It is also a natural anti-microbial.
It is important to note that Cassia cinnamon has high levels of a compound known as coumarin which, if consumed in large quantities (over 1 teaspoon per day), can have serious health effects including liver damage. Coumarin is found in significantly lower levels in Ceylon cinnamon, .004% compared to 1% in Cassia. If you are using Cassia cinnamon make sure not to exceed 1 teaspoon per day. However using Ceylon regularly provides numerous health benefits and adds delicious flavor to your dishes. Happy cooking this week!