Smart Spice: Cinnamon
Mark’s Daily Apple
by Mark Sisson: How
to Prepare for Barefooting
We mostly see
them as flavorants, as the little jars of powder that line our cabinets
and the bags of dried roots, barks, and leaves tucked away in drawers,
designed to subtly or drastically alter the flavor profile of our
fuel” creations in the kitchen, but for most of human history,
were also prized for their medicinal qualities. Turmeric
for GI disorders and inflammation. Chili
peppers for pain management. Ginger for diarrhea. These aren’t
just exaggerated cases of “folk medicine” or “old
wives’ tales,” either. Current research has confirmed that many
common spices do indeed have medicinal properties. One of the most
beneficial is also the most common: cinnamon.
to realize that there are multiple varieties of cinnamon.
Ceylon cinnamon, or “true cinnamon,” or cinnamomum zeylanicum.
Ceylon cinnamon comes from the crumbly inner bark of the cinnamomum
zeylanicum tree, and its flavor is sweet and delicate. It is light
brown. You should be able to snap a stick of real cinnamon in
half quite easily. If you’ve ever had cinnamon candies, that’s
real Ceylon you’re tasting.
Cassia, or cinnamomum aromaticum. It’s usually
sold as cinnamon in the United States. Recipes calling for cinnamon
can use cassia instead without issue, but cassia has a harsher,
more overpowering flavor with less sweetness and more brute force.
It is a darker, redder brown. Cassia sticks are rather hardy.
also Saigon cinnamon, or cinnamomum loureiroi.
Saigon cinnamon is the most prized member of the Cassia family.
It has a full, complex flavor with even less sweetness. Saigon
cinnamon is generally pretty expensive.
As for the
purported health benefits of cinnamon consumption, you’d think that
“true cinnamon” is best. I mean, it’s the real stuff, right? A quick
look across the web seems to confirm that suspicion, with most references
you’ll find on message boards and herbal medicine sites imploring
you to “get real Ceylon cinnamon, not that Cassia crap.” But
what’s the reality? Does “true” necessarily indicate “better”?
look at the possible benefits of cinnamon consumption, as well as
the chemical component that appears to be responsible. Most researchers
have focused on cinnamaldehyde, the organic compound that gives
cinnamon its signature flavor. Hold on to your seat. We’re
about to get a little technical.
merely mask a person’s bad breath, cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon-flavored
chewing gum actually exerts
an antimicrobial effect on the tongue bacteria that cause bad
In human melanomas
grafted onto mice, orally-administered cinnamaldehyde impaired
cancer cell proliferation, invasiveness, and tumor growth.
by (derived from Cassia bark, in fact) activating a protective antioxidant
effect in human epithelial colon cells, evinced
potential chemoprevention against colon cancer.
most of which is cinnamaldehyde, is an effective
insect repellant with the ability to specifically target and
kill mosquito larvae.
to decrease HbA1c, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels
while increasing plasma insulin, hepatic glycogen, and HDL levels.
The oral dosage used – 20mg/kg body weight – wasn’t an unrealistic
help relieve the muscular insulin resistance that occurs following
a bad night’s sleep.
“cinnamon oil” that kills bugs and something with “cinnamon” practically
right there in the name itself may fight cancer, “fake” cinnamon
actually contains more cinnamaldehyde than “true” cinnamon. That’s
right – Cassia oil has the most cinnamaldehyde.
study, researchers using both Cassia extract and Ceylon extract
found that the Cassia
was more effective in diabetic rats observed in a glucose tolerance
the rest of the article
August 3, 2011
© 2011 Mark's Daily Apple
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