Is Your Cinnamon Real Or Fake?

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Is Your Cinnamon Real Or Fake?
image © Anttivs – Wikipedia – lic. under CC BY-SA 1.0 FI

Cinnamon is a healthy spice that has been used as a traditional herbal medicine for centuries. [1] It is also a popular kitchen item which people use to add aroma to their coffee, make delicious homemade ice cream, use for baking or even stir into savory dishes at dinner time.

However did you know that there is more than one “type” of cinnamon? You should – because one of the varieties is more toxic than the other….

There are two main types: Ceylon cinnamon – Cinnamomum verum (also known as “true cinnamon”) and cassia – Cinnamomum cassia. Ceylon cinnamon grows in Sri Lanka (which used to be called Ceylon), the Seychelles, and Madagascar. Cassia generally comes from China and Indonesia.

Cassia contains much more of a substance called coumarin – which has the potential to cause liver damage if large quantities are consumed. Researchers have found that cassia powder contained up to 63 times more coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon powder – and cassia cinnamon sticks contained 18 times more coumarin than Ceylon cinnamon sticks.

How To Tell The Difference Between Ceylon Cinnamon And The Chinese Or Cassia Variety

• It can be very difficult to tell the true cinnamon powder from cassia powder. It is also possible that they were mixed!

• However, the sticks can easily be recognized once one knows what one is looking for.

• Ceylon cinnamon is lighter in color, tastes slightly sweeter, and has a more fragrant aroma than cassia cinnamon.

• Cassia cinnamon is cheaper than Ceylon cinnamon, so the former is most common in your local grocery store. Ceylon cinnamon is also more difficult to find and is mostly available at specialty gourmet stores or upscale food market.

• Chinese cinnamon grows in the wilderness of Southeast Asia and China while the regular cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka whose former name was Ceylon.

• The rolled bark of Ceylon cinnamon is thinner, flakier and multilayered compared to the thicker, tougher bark of cassia.

• Ceylon contains less coumarin, an anti-coagulant, as compared to cassia.

• Ceylon cinnamon is tan brown while cassia is dark reddish brown.

• Cassia is difficult to grind compared to Ceylon cinnamon which is fragile and can easily be broken.

• Ceylon cinnamon is sweet with subtle notes of clove. Cassia has full-bloodied taste and pungent.

• Most powdered cinnamon has no information about processing and aging factors. It is difficult to trace the origin of the bark and who knows how old it is. Furthermore, it is a common practice that cinnamon bark that is harvested from humid tropical areas may have been sprayed with antifungals during the drying process – and you would never know.

• Buy from a trusted source that has the Latin name – “Cinnamomum verum” or “Cinnamomum Zeylanicum” on the label. But be aware that a label saying something is pure does not necessarily mean it is pure…

Health Benefits Of Cinnamon

1. Prevents Blood Clotting

Cinnamon’s anti-clotting ability comes from cinnamaldehyde which stops unwanted clumping of blood platelets. A Korean study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food confirmed the platelet anti-aggregation and blood anti-coagulation effects of an extract of cinnamon. [2]

2. Regulates Blood Sugar

Cinnamon also offers blood sugar control mechanism. Seasoning a higher carbohydrate food with cinnamon can help you ease the effect of the food on your blood sugar. [3] According to several studies, people with diabetes have a better insulin response when consuming cinnamon.

3. Improves Memory

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs confirmed that cinnamon is one of the spices that are useful in enhancing brain performance. The study posited the value of cinnamon’s effects on the brain to treating cognitive disorders and enhancing memory performance. [4]

4. Prevents The Growth Of Fungi And Yeasts

Cinnamon also can help stop the growth of fungi. A study published in the journal Mycopathologia affirmed the role of cinnamon oil as a natural anticandidal agent for controlling yeasts. [5]

5. Lowers Blood Glucose

A study reported in Annals of Family Medicine reveals the link between consumption of cinnamon and decreased levels of glucose and total cholesterol in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, the study did not find a significant effect on hemoglobin. [6]

6. Stops The Growth Of Bacteria

In 2006, The American Journal of Chinese Medicine reported on a study that attributed the antimicrobial action of cinnamon cassia oil and its major constituent to cinnamaldehyde which was effective in inhibiting the growth of various isolates of bacteria. [7] Cinnamaldehyde is an organic compound that gives cinnamon its flavor and odor.


[1] Pasupuleti Visweswara Rao and Siew Hua Gan. April 10, 2014. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant.

[2] Kim SY et al. October 2010. Platelet anti-aggregation activities of compounds from Cinnamomum cassia.

[3] Kirkham S et al. December 2009. Diabetes, Obesity, & Metabolism. The potential of cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.

[4] Stephen Feller. July 22, 2016. Cinnamon may boost brain power, ability to learn.

[5] Pires RH et al. December 2011. Anticandidal efficacy of cinnamon oil against planktonic and biofilm cultures of Candida parapsilosis and Candida orthopsilosis.

[6] Allen RW et al. 2013. Cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis.

[7] Ooi LS et al. 2006. Antimicrobial activities of cinnamon oil and cinnamaldehyde from the Chinese medicinal herb Cinnamomum cassia Blume.

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