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Author Zoran Trifunovic
Zoran Trifunovic Writer
Updated on Jun 19th, 2024
Fact checked by Valentina Meneghini

How to Eat More Cinnamon & Which Type Is Best for You

Cinnamon is a versatile spice that offers health benefits along with flavor improvement. It's available in both stick (quill) and powdered forms, with various types to choose from. Yet, not all cinnamon varieties are the same, as they cater to different tastes and health needs. 

Cinnamon pairs well with many ingredients, including vegetables, fruit, and coffee. And its influence on historical discoveries adds an intriguing dimension to its story. I worked with our in-house certified nutritionist to find out the best ways to include cinnamon in your diet, its benefits, and more. 

Cinnamon Types¹

Cinnamon originates from the dried inner bark of the cinnamon tree, with over 100 tree types yielding this spice. But, commercial use focuses on 4 main types of cinnamon. These are Cassia, Korintje, Saigon, and Ceylon. 

Cassia

Cassia cinnamon is a type commonly used in the USA. Often called Chinese cinnamon, it's predominantly sourced from Indonesia in Southeast Asia. Identified by its dark red-brown hue, its sticks boast a thick skin. Characterized by a spicier profile rather than sweetness, it adds a robust flavor to dishes and beverages alike.

You can spice ice creams, stewed fruit, pies, and many other treats and meals with Cassia. But consume it in moderation since certain research indicates that eating more than 0.1 mg of coumarin, which is found in this cinnamon, per 1 kg (approx. 2.2 lbs) of body weight a day may lead to health issues (more about this later). 

Saigon

Saigon cinnamon is a subspecies of Cassia cinnamon. Saigon comes from Vietnam, hence its name. You'll recognize it by its pungent, spicy taste. Due to its high levels of volatile oil content, this cinnamon has the most pronounced flavor² (peppery and strong). Therefore, it can be quite bitter when used in large quantities.

Saigon cinnamon enhances dishes such as oatmeal, smoothies, and honey toast. Its versatility extends to savory fare like curry, lending a distinctive and aromatic touch to a variety of culinary creations.

Korintje 

Korintje cinnamon is another subspecies of the Cassia tree from Indonesia. It features a thick, light red-brown skin and has a milder flavor compared to other cinnamon types. 

Its flavor is great for various bakery products, such as cinnamon rolls, quickbread, and cookies. You can also add it to oatmeal, waffles, and pancakes. You can toast it with raisins, too.

Ceylon

Native to Sri Lanka, Ceylon cinnamon has a light-brown color and a delicate aroma. Also called true cinnamon, it's a great addition to various products. It's not as readily available as Cassia cinnamon in the USA. But if you live near Mexico, you can find it there since the US southern neighbor is the largest importer of Ceylon cinnamon³.

Ceylon cinnamon finds its place in bakery staples such as cinnamon rolls, breads, and pastries. It also lends its citrusy flavor with floral notes to dishes like cinnamon French toast. This particular type is easier to grind than other common cinnamon varieties if you buy sticks. Note that this type has 10 sub-varieties with subtle flavor variations.

How Can You Tell One Cinnamon from Another?

If you're buying ground cinnamon, you can recognize the variety by its color and taste³. Cassia is dark red-brown and spicy, for the most part. Ceylon is light brown and mildly sweet. Korintje is light reddish-brown and spicy. Saigon is dark reddish-brown and has a sharp, spicy-sweet flavor.

If you're buying quills, Cassia cinnamon sticks have a strong smell and look hollow. But they’re made of thick bark and don't break easily. Ceylon sticks look like cigars. They have a refined aroma, crumble, and break easily.

Nutritional Value

Cinnamon provides trace amounts of various nutrients, with 1 teaspoon per day providing a daily supply of manganese. This trace mineral plays a key role in the activation of enzymes throughout the body. It breaks down sugars and starches and aids in the processing of glucose, carbs, and cholesterol.

Cinnamon harbors active polyphenols, which are antioxidants. Additionally, this spice boasts trace amounts of vitamin A.

How to Add More Cinnamon to Your Diet

Cinnamon comes in 2 forms: powder and sticks. Sticks (or quills) require grinding, or you can snack on them as they are. But I think there are some key advantages to buying powdered cinnamon.

The first is convenience, as you don’t need to grind it first. The second is that portioning is easier. This is important, because an excess intake of this spice (Cassia varieties, to be specific) may affect your health. Find out more about this in the How Much Cinnamon Is Too Much section.

There are many ways to include the spice in your diet. The following ones are a good place to start.

Add to Porridge

Porridge is a nutritious breakfast option, rich in fiber and featuring a moderate protein content, yet often lacking in flavor. Enhance its taste by sprinkling it with cinnamon. For sweeter variations, consider adding cocoa and vanilla, too. Also, some people think that a cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg combo is hard to beat. 

Sprinkle over Sliced Apple

Sprinkle cinnamon on apple slices to add more flavor. This way, you'll make this healthy fruit even healthier and it can help satisfy sweet cravings. What’s more, cinnamon is probably the most commonly paired spice with apples – so it's a tried-and-tested combo!

Add to a Beverage

Cinnamon makes a nice addition to various beverages, such as coffee, juices, and tea. It enhances coffee's flavor profile and boosts its antioxidant benefits. For a frothy, creamy, and sweet indulgence, try a cinnamon latte. You can use cinnamon to complement different teas, including chai and green tea.

You can also add this popular spice to smoothies for breakfast or as a snack. It especially goes well with vanilla and peanut butter smoothies. For a sweet treat with antioxidant benefits, whiz cinnamon into hot chocolate. Also good for cold days, infuse warm apple juice with cinnamon sticks for a cosy drink. 

Sprinkle over Pancakes

I like the outcome of combining cinnamon with pancakes. You can add spice to dishes like apple pie pancakes or chocolate protein pancakes. The combo is especially satisfying for fans of both sweet and savory flavors. Whether sprinkled over prepared pancakes or incorporated into the batter before baking, cinnamon adds a delicious twist to this staple.

Spice Up Your Toast

Sprinkling cinnamon over toast can go a long way. It's especially great with peanut butter and banana slices. It's also a fitting addition for fans of French toast. If you're one, think about mixing cinnamon with the sweetness of maple syrup.

Cake Toppings or Fillings

You can dust cakes with cinnamon or make them with cinnamon filling and toppings. Sprinkle muffins with the spice. Or fill snickerdoodles with buttery cinnamon swirls and top them with creamy brown sugar cinnamon buttercream frosting, for example. 

I don't think I need to point out that it also goes well with apple pie. What’s more, you can freeze fruit like peaches and bananas and grind them while frozen. After that, sprinkle cinnamon over the homemade ice cream. 

Make a Flavorful Baked Grapefruit 

Making baked grapefruit with cinnamon is quick and easy, taking just a few minutes to prepare. All you need to do is sprinkle a combination of brown sugar, ground ginger, and a little cinnamon over halved and segmented grapefruits and broil until the grapefruit turns golden brown. This simple yet flavorful dish makes for a nutritious breakfast or snack option.

Sweeten Baked Bacon

Making candied bacon with sugar and cinnamon is a simple yet indulgent treat. I find it a great addition for special occasions or brunch. You can prepare this snack in less than 30 minutes. 

A mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon is used to coat each slice of bacon, which then bakes in the oven. The treat is ready once the bacon is crisp and the sugar becomes bubbly. 

Make Crisps and Enjoy with a Fruit Salsa 

Make a fruit salsa with cinnamon-flavored crisps for a refreshing snack. The crisps are made using flour tortillas, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Add a mixture of cinnamon and sugar to the tortillas and bake them in an oven until crisp. The fruit salsa can be made with any combination of fruit you like. A good example would be Granny Smith apples, strawberries, raspberries, kiwis, lemon juice, and raspberry preserves.

Crush Fruits for a Puree

Prepare mashed fruit puree if someone can't eat fruit slices or if you prefer it that way. Add a dash of cinnamon. For this purpose, you can use various fruits such as apples, plums, peaches, blueberries, or bananas. Optionally, bake the puree in an oven.

The Benefits of Cinnamon

Cinnamon has various purported health benefits. But scientists still have to do a lot of research to confirm many of them. Current findings suggest the following advantages of this spice:

  • Blood sugar control: Evidence may suggest that cinnamon helps blood sugar regulation, protects against heart disease, and keeps inflammation in check. A study suggests that people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes benefit from a significant reduction of fasting blood sugar and insulin resistance through cinnamon intake. 

  • Cognitive benefits: Although evidence is far from conclusive, people with high blood sugar who consume cinnamon might experience memory benefits. At the very least, research suggests that some improvements in short-term thinking were seen in people who consumed the spice as opposed to those who didn't. 

  • Menstrual cramps¹⁰: Cinnamon shows promise in alleviating menstrual discomfort. Some studies indicate that a quarter teaspoon proved more effective than a placebo in relieving cramps. What's more, traditional Ayurvedic medicine¹¹ has used cinnamon extracts to address menstrual irregularities, among other health concerns.

How Much Cinnamon Is Too Much?

Eating cinnamon regularly is perfectly fine, as long as you don't overeat it. Specifically, you should limit your intake of coumarin to 0.1 mg per kilogram (about 2.2 lbs) of body mass to be on the safe side. So, an average-weight person should limit the daily intake of this spice to a quarter of a teaspoon. The type of cinnamon we are talking about here is Cassia and all of its sub-variants, so this includes Saigon and Korinje, as well. 

Cinnamon can contain high levels of the coumarin compound, which can be toxic in large amounts. Cassia cinnamon typically contains around 1%¹². The risks for individuals who consume excessive amounts of cinnamon include liver damage. People with diabetes and heart disease should also be aware of potential side effects, as coumarin may interact with medications.

While researching this article, I found recipes that used well over 1/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon. If you use a recipe like this, be mindful of how much you consume or go for Ceylon or True cinnamon. It contains far less coumarin than Cassia, usually around 0.004%. It's virtually impossible to overuse Ceylon cinnamon. 

If you buy Cassia, Korintje, or Saigon cinnamon for availability or financial reasons (Ceylon is much pricier), I recommend sticking to the powder. It's much harder to consume sticks because the skin is hard to break and you have no control over consumption.

FAQ

Is it safe to eat cinnamon every day?

Yes, it’s perfectly safe to enjoy cinnamon daily, as long as you don’t exceed  the recommended amount mentioned above. You can sprinkle some on your morning coffee or porridge. It also tastes great on pancakes or toast.

What are the health benefits of eating cinnamon regularly?

Cinnamon has many health benefits. These include blood sugar control, cognitive benefits, and helping to relieve menstrual cramps. Many studies are still ongoing, so the evidence is not yet conclusive, but it is very strong.

How much cinnamon can I eat in one go?

The recommended daily amount works out at roughly one quarter of a teaspoon. If you’re sprinkling a little on toast or apple slices, you’re unlikely to exceed this amount. Don’t add cinnamon to everything, as you could end up taking in too much.

Are there any side effects to eating too much cinnamon?

There are side effects to eating too much cinnamon, particularly if you suffer from other health conditions. Cinnamon contains a compound called coumarin, which can be toxic in large amounts and too much cinnamon can result in liver damage. Coumarin can also interact with some medications, so if you take medication regularly, check with your doctor before adding cinnamon to your diet.  

References

    1.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4466762/

      2. https://spicesinc.com/blogs/4-types-cinnamon

        3. https://www.cinnamonvogue.com/Types_of_Cinnamon_1.html#

          4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Manganese-HealthProfessional/

            5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003790/

              6. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171320/nutrients

                7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9269353/

                  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4210501/

                    9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36652384/

                      10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36652384/

                        11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4609100/

                          12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3385612/

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                          We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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