Is Your Cinnamon Fake?


Is your cinnamon fake? There's a good chance that yes, it is. Go check the label on your cinnamon right now. If it says Cinnamomum cassia, just cinnamon (with no explanation), or has a country of origin anywhere other than Sri Lanka, your cinnamon is not real.

Real cinnamon is called Ceylon Cinnamon (cinnamomum zeylanicum or cinnamomum verum). It is native to Sri Lanka. It was first popularized by the Egyptians who valued the cinnamon for its medicinal qualities. Due to limited supply and high demand, cinnamon became expensive to import. In the early 1900s, America began importing Cinnamomum cassia, a cousin of Ceylon, because it was much cheaper. Cinnamomum cassia is easily obtainable because of its ability to grow in a wider range of areas, but most of it comes from China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

The reason why it matters whether or not your cinnamon is fake or not is because of its valuable medicinal qualities. Both types of cinnamon have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. They are also antifungal and can halt yeast growth, which makes cinnamon useful in treating allergies. The difference is that real cinnamon is higher in all these properties. Cinnamon also contains coumarin, which is toxic to the liver and kidneys. It also counteracts with blood-thinning medications. Cassia Cinnamon has 1,000 times the amount of coumarin than Ceylon Cinnamon. One teaspoon of Cassia Cinnamon contains about 5.8 to 12.1 mg of coumarin, which is above the Tolerable Daily Intake of 6.0 mg for a person weighing about 130 pounds (source).

Real Ceylon Cinnamon is sweeter than Cassia Cinnamon, which tends to be spicy or hot. I also notice a difference in smell. Ceylon Cinnamon smells like cinnamon as we know it combined with cardamom. Real cinnamon sticks look rough, and are soft so you can actually chew on them like candy. They are also lighter in color. Fake cinnamon sticks have a deep red-brown color and one single neat curl that meets and closes in the middle.

Most cinnamon sold in the United States is the fake Cassia variety. To ensure you get real Ceylon Cinnamon, make sure you buy it from a trusted source. The links below are for reputable brands.

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13 comments:

  1. Well, thank you. (I think. LOL) I certainly didn't know any of this!

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  2. I am confused, if the real cinnamon is toxic to us, shouldn't we want fake Cassia kind?

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  3. Jen, don't be confused...the properties that are harmful in the real stuff are in higher amounts in the fake stuff... stonewitch

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  4. Jen, I had to read that sentence again, because I'd understood it incorrectly the first time I read it, too.

    Yet ANOTHER thing to be aware of when trying to maintain a traditional, real foods diet.

    There is a tea I like, Good Earth sweet and spicy original blend that has cinnamon. I've been drinking it for years and this article prompted me to actually read the label. Aside from wondering what type of cinnamon is in the tea, I noticed one of the main ingredients is "artificial flavor". Guess I will be brewing my own sweet and spicy blend from now on.

    I'm in Norman and have been following your blog for awhile. We've finally decided to join the co-op next month. It's just going to take a bit more planning ahead so that we can minimize and ultimately eliminate trips to the grocery store. After watching documentaries like Farmageddon, it's become more difficult to not feel resentment each time I hand over my dollars in to the industrial food system.

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  5. Thank you for that info!! I guess I will be replacing all that fake stuff real soon!!

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  6. Wow, I had no idea. We are relatively new to trying to live naturally and organically and have a LONG way to go. I absolutely love cinnamon and am so dissappointed to know this, but now I know what to look for. Thank you.
    @Anastasia, the Farmageddon documentary really was disturbing. We watched it a few months back on netflix.

    ~Ann
    Visit us at Summers Acres

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  7. Do you know if the Oregon Spice brand is a reputable brand to buy ceylon cinnamon from?
    I am a member of Azure Standard and they only have that brand available in Ceylon Cinnamon.

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  8. It is not organic but states that it is Cinnamon 3" Ceylon Sticks. It states that it is a native of Sri Lanka and seems to have the characteristics of Ceylon Cinnamon. Would you think that it is ok or would you think it would be best to buy Frontier or Mountain Rose Herbs instead?

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    1. I only buy organic spices because non-organic spices are irradiated, which is like pasteurization, but for spices. Irradiated spices do not have medicinal properties like non-irradiated spices do.

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  9. My organic cinnamon sticks ARE from Mountain Rose Herbs but say Cinnamomum Burmannii (Cassia) sourced from Indonesia. Very disappointing to learn of their toxicity!

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    1. Mountain Rose Herbs has many different varieties of cinnamon available. You have to make sure you order the right one.

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  10. This is very helpful info.Thank you so very much!!!

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