Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Powerful antioxidant, Cinnamon

Just a short post about a spice that is probably sitting in all of your cabinets right now. Cinnamon is a culinary spice that is derived from the fragrant inner bark of a group of small evergreen trees called Cinnamomums. It is the second most popular spice used in the United States, right behind black pepper.

There are two major types of cinnamon found in the US. They are Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is typically from Sri Lanka, and is also referred to as "true cinnamon.” While Ceylon is the predominate source of cinnamon sold in the UK, it is not the predominant spice typically sold as cinnamon in the United States. More common is Cassia cinnamon, which is typically from Burma but also grown in China and Vietnam and is sometimes called Chinese cinnamon. Cassia is darker in color and often has a stronger more pungent taste.

According to a major study done measuring antioxidants of various foods, cloves were found to be the most potent supply, by weight, but cinnamon wasn’t far behind. As such, cinnamon is an excellent food to be included into your normal diet. Evidence suggests that cinnamon has “anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitumor, cardiovascular, cholesterol-lowering, and immunomdulatory effects.” 

That said, the distinction between Ceylon and Cassia makes a bigger difference than one would imagine. Cassia cinnamon is the main source of coumarin found in most people’s diet. Courmarin is a naturally occurring toxin which has the potential to damage the liver when taken in high doses.

Recent studies have revealed that regularly consuming Cassia cinnamon powder could be problematic, resulting in potentially harmful levels of coumarin intake. For example, Dr. Joel Furhrman, reports that one study estimated that small children eating oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon a few times a week would exceed the established safe upper limit of exposure.

Cinnamon also is high in oxalates. Oxalates have been linked to cause oxalate kidney stones which sounds rather uncomfortable to me. However, less than 10% of the oxalates found in cinnamon are absorbed, so even taking large doses of cinnamon on a daily basis shouldn’t be a problem in this regard.

Since Ceylon cinnamon has been tested as having near-zero levels of courmarin, it’s worth the time and money for American consumers to find a good source of Ceylon cinnamon. FRONTIER Natural Products Co-Op is my preferred choice as I can get it easily from Whole Foods or any other natural/organic grocer. Because of it's many health benefits, Ceylon Cinnamon is an excellent, easy and delicious way to boost one's antioxidant intake.  

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.

More Reading:
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods—2007. November 2007. 

M. Tang, D.E. Larson-Meyer, & M. Liebman. Effect of cinnamon and turmeric on urinary oxalate excretion, plasma lipids, and plasma glucose in healthy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr, 87(5):1262-1267, 2008. 

Gruenwald J, Freder J, Armbruester N. Cinnamon and health. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Oct;50(9):822-34.

Fuhrman, Joel. “Choosing the Right Cinnamon,” http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/choosing_the_right_cinnamon.aspx


  1. "eating oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon a few times a week"... whoops I definitely exceed that with the slightly excessive amounts of cinnamon I consume. Sure hope I've been buying Ceylon.. and will definitely make sure of it in the future!

  2. I have a totally different cinnamon in my pantry; I'll submit it to you for further instruction.

    PS I'll assume you don't condone mountains of cinnamon sugar on toast?

    1. Hi Bean,
      Try sprouted bread, ceylon cinnamon, and date sugar. It's really tasty! Or better yet, make a date paste by blending dates with water, then add the cinnamon to that. Delicious!

  3. Yes, cinnamon is an antioxidant which is very much helpful in energizing the cell by increasing the metabolism of the body. Metabolism is the fact for much of the functionality in the body. They are also responsible for the fat loss within the body.

    for more info click here:-

  4. cinnamon is used for energizing the cell as well as reducing the fat from the body.

  5. I usually get my Ceylon cinnamon from Penzy's; it's always fresh and tasty!