Cinnamon is one of my favourite spices and is definitely a staple in my kitchen, that’s why I’m so excited to have this in our range at Changing Habits. I love the fact you can add cinnamon to both sweet and savoury dishes – like curries, smoothies, tea, baked goods or spice rubs.
Ceylon versus Cassia
However, did you know that there is more than one type of cinnamon? The two most commonly used in cooking are Ceylon and Cassia Cinnamon. What some of you may not know is that most cinnamon you see at the supermarkets is more often than not Cassia Cinnamon, also known as ‘Chinese’ or ‘Fake’ Cinnamon. Cassia is the cheapest version on the market and is cultivated in China and Indonesia. It’s not as delicate, sweet or subtle as Ceylon, which comes from a small tree native to Sri Lanka. What sets Cassia apart from the Changing Habits Organic Ceylon Cinnamon is the fact that most Cassia varieties are manufactured with an industrial grinding process which dilutes and damages not only the nutritional value but also oxidises the naturally occurring oils within the cinnamon. Have you ever noticed a bitter aftertaste from store bought cinnamon? That is because of this. Our Changing Habits Organic Cinnamon has been air cured and dried in the sun before being ground into a powder.
I’m sure some of you are wondering why it’s important to distinguish between Cassia and Ceylon Cinnamon. Cinnamon from Ceylon is noticeably different to Cassia Cinnamon and these differences could impact your health. Cassia Cinnamon has been found to have high levels (up to a thousand times more) of a component called coumarin. Some research has found that coumarin, a naturally occurring toxin, may cause liver and kidney problems when taken regularly over a long period of time and consumed at high levels. To me the answer is clear; if you cook with cinnamon it’s imperative to choose a quality source from Ceylon to reap the nutritional health benefits it provides.
It is important to be very selective with your cinnamon. If it isn’t cultivated, harvested, produced and packaged using certified organic processes you will be deprived of its potent health benefits. Conventional spices and herbs are frequently irradiated (subject to radiation) and personally I don’t like the idea of my food being zapped to prolong the shelf life. Freshly ground cinnamon is a must as it retains all its essential oils and nutrients as well as its beautiful depth of aroma and flavour.
Health benefits of Ceylon Cinnamon
Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants, calcium, iron and minerals such as manganese. Due to its nutritional properties some of the documented health benefits of cinnamon include:
- Blood sugar regulation – as it aids insulin activity, thereby helping the body to process sugar more effectively
- Antimicrobial properties
- Anti-clotting properties
- May help inhibit Alzheimer’s disease
- Prevents the growth of fungi and yeasts
- Increases blood flow to the brain which improves mental alertness
Cinnamon for weight loss
Ceylon Cinnamon may act as a weight loss aid as it makes you feel fuller for longer so can help reduce your overall food intake. Also, as it is a fantastic digestive aid, it helps extract the maximum nutrition content possible from the food you do eat.
While cinnamon has some fantastic health benefits, like anything it is important not to have too much. I eat cinnamon most days – but not every day – and would recommend you don’t have more than about a teaspoon a day. If you do eat cinnamon most days, again I would recommend you only eat Ceylon Cinnamon due to its low level of coumarin.
I use cinnamon as much as I can in my cooking – in fact when I was camping in Namibia recently it was a staple ingredient along with turmeric and ground ginger. I use it in everything from my homemade muesli to hot drinks, curries and desserts.
Get cinnamon into your diet!
I love that cinnamon can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Here are a few simple suggestions on how to incorporate cinnamon into your diet!
- Add to smoothies
- Soups and stews (Moroccan flavoured)
- Rice or cauliflower rice (mixed through)
- Bliss balls
- Baked and raw goodies
- Sprinkled over fruit and yoghurt
- Spice rub for roasted meats or fish
Here are a few recipes to get you started so you can begin to incorporate this wonderful spice into your daily diet.
- Apple & Cinnamon Emmer Wheat Muffins
- Apple Spice Chia Porridge
- Choc Cinnamon Bliss Balls
- Cinnamon Cake
- Moroccan Lamb Stew
Happy Changing Habits,
Jordan Pie – Changing Habits Nutritionist & Certified GAPS Practitioner
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