What is the Best Cinnamon? Ceylon vs Cassia cinnamon - is your cinnamon toxic?

Cinnamon has been said to have many health benefits. However, what you may not know is that the cinnamon you buy at your local store may not be the right kind of cinnamon to reap all of the health benefits.

Did you know that there is more than one kind of cinnamon? It’s true. There are actually multiple kinds of cinnamon, but the two most commonly used in our modern cooking are Cassia cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon.

Ceylon cinnamon is also known as “true” cinnamon, but why? If it is the “true” cinnamon, is there a “false” cinnamon? These are the questions I asked myself while researching the health benefits of cinnamon, only to find out that the cinnamon I was buying was not what I thought.

Benefits of Cinnamon

Cinnamon is such a powerful antioxidant that it’s been shown to prevent oxidation better than almost any other spice (except mint) as well as many common chemical antioxidants.

Other Health Benefits of Cinnamon:

  • The scent of cinnamon boosts brain function
  • Helps control blood sugar
  • It’s a powerful antimicrobial
  • It’s an anti-inflammatory food

What is the Best Cinnamon?

If you’ve been buying cinnamon at the store because you want the health benefits, you will want to read this:

The two major types of cinnamon used in food preparation are Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is known as “true cinnamon” and is native to Sri Lanka. Ceylon cinnamon is NOT the kind of cinnamon that is normally sold in the spice section at your local supermarket.

The kind of cinnamon that you likely find at your local store is Cassia cinnamon, which is a relative of Ceylon cinnamon but is also a much cheaper version.

Both Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon are taken from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree, however Cassia cinnamon is typically darker and has a much more pungent flavor. Ceylon cinnamon is considered a more delicate spice because of it’s quality and sweeter taste.

Why is it important to distinguish between Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon?

Though Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon seem very similar, they have some very distinct differences that could impact your health.

Cassia cinnamon is one of the largest sources of coumarin in our modern day diets. This is important to know because coumarin is a toxin that occurs in nature and can be toxic to the liver. Coumarin is also a potential carcinogenic.

Consuming coumarin in your diet regularly can lead to many potential health problems. In fact, it’s been estimated that a child consuming Cassia cinnamon on toast or oatmeal just 3 times a week is already exceeding the safe exposure level. Also, adults who regularly consume Cassia cinnamon in their foods or take supplements of Cassia cinnamon could easily be exceeding toxic limits.

The good news is that Ceylon cinnamon either does not contain coumarin or it’s contains such trace amounts that it is undetectable.

To me, the answer is clear: If you use cinnamon in your household, it’s important to switch from Cassia to Ceylon cinnamon immediately to avoid toxic levels of coumarin in your diet while still reaping all of the health benefits of cinnamon.

Where to Buy Ceylon Cinnamon

Ceylon cinnamon can typically be found in health food stores and can sometimes be found in traditional supermarkets with a health food section.

If you cannot find Ceylon cinnamon locally, you can also buy it online. Organic Ceylon cinnamon is preferable of course.

What kind of cinnamon do you buy? Do you plan to switch?



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Vanessa Pruitt is the founder of Natural Family Today. She helps people take one step at a time toward a happier, healthier life. Learn more...
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18 Responses to What is the Best Cinnamon? Ceylon vs Cassia Cinnamon

  1. Laura Pawlowski-Popdan says:

    Very interesting! I love . I use it multiple times a day! I buy mine from trader joes, i will have to check but I m sure I’ve been purchasing cassia version. Thanks for sharing =)

  2. Katrina says:

    I buy Costco’s Saigon Cinnamon. According to this article:
    “Saigon cinnamon is one of the cassia cinnamons, which come from the Cinnamomum loureiroi or the Cinnamomum aromaticum trees.”
    Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/500834-saigon-cinnamon-health-benefits/#ixzz2gm4jmhaV
    Kind of a bummer. It is the best cinnamon I have ever tasted! I don’t plan on switching. though. I do not take it medicinally, nor use it enough in recipes (maybe a couple times a month, if that) to concern me. I will consider switching if I begun using it more often, though.

  3. […] you are using the right kind of cinnamon in your home. Until recently, I was not; I had no idea! This is a must read. Then…you’ll wanna get your hands on Ceylon cinnamon, like […]

  4. […] Cinnamon – If you’ve read my article about what is the best cinnamon, you’ll know that “regular” cassia cinnamon (the kind most often sold in stores) […]

  5. […] cinnamon – The cassia cinnamon commonly found in the grocery store is toxic. Find out why you should buy ceylon cinnamon […]

  6. MR says:

    According to America’s top expert, C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD., you can achieve excellent results from Cinnamon spice bought from your local supermarket.!!!

  7. This is the second article I’ve read regarding Coumarin. If this naturally occurring toxin could be harmful to a child that has 3 servings of Cassia infused breakfast meal, why hasn’t the FDA come out with any guidelines? If you know of any, please let me know.

    I highly suspect the reason for the importation of Cassia to the US is a pricing issue. It is much cheaper to import Cassia from Vietnam rather than Colombo, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) The freight alone would be cheaper…..I suspect. I’m a 3rd generation of Ceylon Cinnamon exporting family. The family business has been active since 1945. Here’s hoping Ceylon Cinnamon takes off in the United States in 2014. (We export Cinnamon already cut to specification in 20/40 ft. containers)

    • It is concerning for me as well. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I am so glad we switched to Ceylon.

    • Sam says:

      Cool post Nalin

      I’m on board – I now buy Ceylon. It’s available in all of our trendy food stores and spice shops. It’ll catch on, because people will want to cut down on coumarin in their diets, once they know. They won’t use enough of it; for the additional price to matter.

      Grats on propagating such a unique spice.

  8. Yes Ceylon Cinnamon is better. It is not as strong as Cassia Cinnamon, but you have to discover it’s sophistication. In Sri Lanka, the home of Ceylon Cinnamon it is used extensively in both in curries and fine desserts.

    In North America Cinnamon is used mostly in sweet recipes. We need to get away from that mentality. It seems such a travesty to mix an amazingly healthy spice with sugar, the cause of many of our current health issues.

    Take a closer look at healthy Sri Lankan recipes with Ceylon Cinnamon. Meats, vegetables, chutneys, drinks, teas, soups and so much more. Sometimes spicy, sometimes savory and at other times smokey. You will find an entirely new world with incredible culinary sophistication with Cinnamon that will keep you healthy for years to come.

  9. suzy pattullo says:

    I have been using Saigon cinnamon. Does anyone know anything about that?

  10. Suzy Siagon Cinnamon is nice and quite tasty but has extremely high Coumarin levels, by far the highest from all the varieties of Cassia Cinnamon. Coumarin as you may know damages your liver. Saigon is fine for very occasional use but certainly not daily use.

  11. Sandra says:

    Does anyone know what kind of cinnamon is sold in the Bulk Barns? Our grandson eats it daily on toast and so this is very important to us.

  12. Keith says:

    Ceylon cinnamon can be found in a World Market/Cost Plus World Market. Also if your grocery store has a Mexican spice section, it might not be labeled as Ceylon. On the back panel of the label part, one just marked as cinnamon sticks, says “This true cinnamon comes from[...]Sri Lanka”. And it’s always surprisingly cheap anywhere I find it. $0.99 for three stick shorter than three inches or $1.99 for three sticks labeled Ceylon about five inches long at World Market–the better packaging really keeps the sweetness and the strength of the ones labeled Ceylon.

    • Christina says:

      I found Ceylon sticks in my local grocery store, too! 99 cents. It certainly beats the more expensive products online.

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