Health Benefits of Cinnamon: its definition, types, and Culinary Uses

What is Cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a type of spice obtained from the bark of trees of the Cinnamomum species. The inner bark is removed, dried, and rolled into cinnamon sticks or made into a powder. This aromatic spice has been highly prized throughout history for its unique flavor and aroma. It is believed to have originated in Sri Lanka, also known as Ceylon, but is now cultivated in several countries, including China, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

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Types of Cinnamon

  1. Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum): Known as “true cinnamon“, this cinnamon is considered to be of higher quality and has a sweeter and more delicate flavor. It is often used for culinary purposes and is commonly used in Europe and Mexico.
  2. Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia): Cassia cinnamon, also known as Chinese cinnamon or Saigon cinnamon, is more widely available and more commonly used. Its taste is more intense than that of Ceylon cinnamon. It is mainly produced in China, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Forms of cinnamon

This is available in different forms, including:

  1. Ground cinnamon: This is the most common and convenient form of cinnamon, readily available in most grocery stores. This cinnamon is made by finely grinding cinnamon sticks.
  2. Cinnamon Sticks: Also known as quills, cinnamon sticks are portions of cinnamon bark. They are often used to enhance the flavor of dishes and beverages.
  3. Cinnamon essential oil: The oil extracted from cinnamon bark is highly concentrated and used for culinary or aromatic purposes.
Forms of Cinnamon

Health Benefits of Cinnamon

A. Blood sugar regulation: Cinnamon has a positive effect on insulin sensitivity, making it beneficial for individuals with diabetes or insulin resistance. Its active compounds help in increasing insulin and glucose uptake by cells, thereby lowering blood sugar levels.

B. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Cinnamon contains powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols, which help reduce inflammation in the body. These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and potentially help with diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

C. Heart Health: Regular consumption has been shown to improve heart health. It may help by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, lowering triglycerides, and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Additionally, it has been shown to have properties that help regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of blood clots.

D. Antimicrobial Effects: Cinnamon has natural antimicrobial properties, making it effective against a variety of bacteria and fungi. It has been traditionally used to protect food from spoilage. It can be called a natural food preservative. The antimicrobial effects of this also help prevent the growth of bacteria responsible for plaque and bad breath, thus maintaining good oral health.

E. Cognitive Function: Research shows that cinnamon may have positive effects on brain health. Active compounds found in cinnamon, such as cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin, have been shown to enhance cognitive function and improve memory as well as protect against age-related cognitive decline.

Culinary Uses of Cinnamon

A. Sweet Dishes

  1. Cinnamon rolls and pastries: we used this to add flavor to baking. Its warm and comforting flavor adds depth to these classic baked goods.
  2. In Sweets: It is used in a variety of recipes such as apple pie, rice pudding, and cookies. When combined with cinnamon, it gives dishes a distinctly delightful and aromatic feel.
  3. In hot beverages: It is used for sprinkling hot chocolate, coffee, and tea, giving them an aromatic and savory flavor.
Cinnamon in Sweets

B. Savory Delights

Cinnamon in curries and stews
  1. Spicy Rice and Pilaf Dishes: Cinnamon adds a distinct flavor to rice dishes, such as biryani or pilaf.
  2. Cinnamon in curries and stews: Cinnamon sticks or powder can be used in curries and stews to give a unique and delicious flavor.
  3. Flavoring for meat rubs and marinades: we use this to enhance the flavor of meats such as lamb and pork.

C. Beverages

  1. Spiced Cider and Mulled Wine: This is a key ingredient in spiced beverages like apple cider and mulled wine, making for a comforting and aromatic drink.
  2. Cocktails: The flavor of many types of cocktails, such as the classic “Cinnamon Whiskey Sour” or spiced rum Cocktails can be enhanced with syrup or a stick garnish.
  3. In Smoothies and Milkshakes: A pinch of cinnamon can be added to smoothies or milkshakes to add a delightful twist that also enhances its flavor.
Cinnamon in Smoothies and Milkshakes 1

D. Health-Conscious Cooking

Cinnamon in breakfast
  1. In Breakfast: Using this in oatmeal or breakfast cereals adds a delicious flavor to the food and also increases its nutritional value.
  2. Adding cinnamon to curd or paneer: Adding this to curd or paneer can make for a healthy and tasty snack.
  3. Cinnamon-Spiced Roasted Vegetables: Roasting vegetables like sweet potatoes or carrots with this brings out their natural sweetness.

Tips for Buying and Storing Cinnamon

Choosing quality cinnamon

If possible, choose Ceylon cinnamon for better flavor and lower levels of coumarin, which has adverse effects on humans in large amounts. However, Ceylon and Cassia cinnamon are used in culinary preparations.

Whole sticks or ground cinnamon

Whole sticks retain their flavor and aroma for a longer period than ground cinnamon. While buying these sticks, keep in mind that those sticks are tightly wrapped and have a fragrant smell. If you’re buying ground cinnamon, make sure it’s fresh and from a reputable source.

Storage Techniques

To maintain the freshness and flavor of this herb, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and moisture. Ground cinnamon only stays fresh for about six months, while its sticks can retain their quality for up to a year.

Precautions and Considerations

Possible allergic reactions

  • Some individuals may be allergic to these. An allergic reaction can range from mild skin irritation to severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing. If you experience any such reaction, discontinue use immediately and consult a doctor.

Coumarin Content and Potential Side Effects

  • Cassia cinnamon contains higher levels of coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon. Taking large amounts of coumarin over a long period can cause adverse effects on the liver. People who have liver problems or are taking medications that interact with coumarin should exercise caution and avoid its consumption.

Recommended Daily Intake and Moderation

  • Although this herb provides health benefits, it is important to consume it in moderation. Consuming 1–6 grams (0.5–2 teaspoons) per day is considered safe for a healthy person.


This is a remarkable spice with a rich history, delicious flavor, and a range of potential health benefits. From controlling blood sugar levels and reducing inflammation to its positive effects on heart health and cognitive function, it is a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle. Its versatility in both sweet and savory dishes allows for endless culinary creations.

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