Stack of cinnamon stick with a wooden scoop full of ground cinnamon

Solía pensar que la canela era como el azúcar y que, al igual que la azúcar, debía evitarla o limitarla en la dieta. Supongo que mi suposición errónea se debía a que constantemente las encontraba juntas. ¡Ja, ja! Pensemos en los famosos rollitos de canela, ¡un verdadero deleite para el paladar! Resulta que la canela es la salvación de los postres azucarados. De hecho, ayuda al cuerpo a metabolizar el azúcar, además de otras cosas que ya te contaré.

¿Qué es la Canela Verdadera?

También resulta que hay varios tipos diferentes de canela. Estos se agrupan en 5 categorías:

La Cinnamomum zeylanicum, conocida como Canela Verdadera o canela de Ceylan, Ceilán o canela mexicana, es llamada simplemente Canela en México. Este nombre es un remanente de cuando el monopolio de la canela estaba controlado por Venecia, Italia, y llamaban a la corteza seca "canela", que es la palabra italiana para "pequeños cañones".

También se le conoce como Cinnamomum verum, que es el nombre botánico que significa canela verdadera. Los nombres botánicos a veces difieren del nombre taxonómico. Los nombres botánicos son científicos, pero se basan en un acuerdo con el Código Internacional de Nomenclatura, en oposición a la nomenclatura binomial de clasificación biológica llamada taxonomía. Sé que esto puede ser confuso, pero por eso estoy explicándolo.

Zeylanicum proviene de la palabra que significa Ceilán, donde es nativa esta canela.

Ceilán era el nombre anterior de Sri Lanka antes de 1972. Sri Lanka es la fuente de la verdadera canela del mundo. Su historia turbulenta de invasiones a lo largo de los siglos refleja esto. Más recientemente, sin embargo, esta canela ha salido de su situación de seguridad y se cultiva en otros lugares, siendo México uno de los principales.

Veracruz, al estar en la costa del Golfo de México, tiene un clima similar a Sri Lanka, por lo que se cultiva con entusiasmo allí. Pero dado que todo México ha tenido una relación amorosa con la canela de Ceilán desde que el San Pablo, un galeón español, llegó a Acapulco en 1565 con 50,000 libras de ella, México sigue siendo el principal importador de canela de Ceilán en el mundo.

Esta canela es de color más claro y mucho más suave que otras variedades y tiene un sabor más dulce y ligero. Tiene un sabor más complejo que el sabor intenso de otras canelas. Países como la India utilizan la canela de Ceylan o Ceilán para los postres y la Cassia para el curry y los platos de carne.

Egipto, donde se utilizaba para embalsamar y en perfumes, obtuvo la Cassia de China y la Ceilán de los comerciantes franceses que, por supuesto, la obtuvieron de los comerciantes portugueses, que pronto la monopolizaron en Ceilán.

Other Common Varieties

  • Cinnamomum burmannii or Indonesian Cinnamon also called Korintje cinnamon.
  • Cinnamomum loureiroi Vietnamese Cinnamon, also known as Saigon Cinnamon
  • Cinnamomum aromaticum known as Cassia Cinnamon or Chinese Cinnamon. It is very hard and much darker than Ceylon cinnamon.
  • Cinnamomum citriodorum also known as Camphora citriodorum and Malabar Cinnamon.This one is very rare and is also found in Sri Lanka, but in the central and lowland rainforests. It is an endangered species. This cinnamon contains much less of the major active, flavor giving, ingredient cinnamaldehyde than the Ceylon, but also contains Camphor.

In addition to the mentioned cinnamon there are about 245 more species in the cinnamon genus that are also very volatile and cinnamon-like but have not been made very commercially important as cinnamon.

Cassia vs Ceylon

The cinnamon most Americans have in their shakers is Cassia cinnamon grown in China because it is the most inexpensive. Before that Saigon cinnamon was popular, but certain embargos ended that situation. Sometimes however, even cheaper fillers like ground Beech Nut Hulls or other nuts are flavored with cinnamaldehyde and mixed in and it is still marketed as cinnamon.

A lot of articles will tell you there are only 2 types of cinnamon, Cassia and Ceylon. That is because colloquially all non Ceylon cinnamon is referred to collectively as Cassia for ease of comparison with the true cinnamon. Or like with palm trees there is confusion on what is what and things get erroneously included under the wrong name. Also the word Cassia derives from kasia a Greek word which came from Hebrew gatsa that means to cut off or strip off bark. All of the cinnamons are harvested this way. Cinnamon is the inner bark of the tree and sometimes the root when it is large enough.

Currently the most important difference between Ceylon cinnamon and the rest is that Ceylon is the only cinnamon that has almost no coumarin in it (more on that later) and it is considered purer than the rest and it is the most expensive.

In the past it was about the taste and softness. Cassia is hard and pungent and can even have a bitter taste and it is comparatively heavy. Ceylon is refined and delicate with a more complex taste with citrus and floral overtones and is sweeter. The things we call cinnamon sticks, the curled dried inner bark of cinnamon trees, are called quills. Ceylon quills break easily into a powder. Not good for Christmas decorations or fancy holiday straws like the Cassia, but great for cooking and baking fine foods and desserts.


Understanding Coumarin

You have heard me mention coumarin before in a good way. This was regarding its presence in other herbs where it helps regulate the thickness of the blood keeping it from getting gloppy among other things. In this situation - Mother Nature's recipe, there are loads of vitamins and antioxidants that keep it from doing anything bad and there are safeties. If you get too much of a substance it tells the body to get rid of it through vomit or diarrhea.

The problem is that coumarin is isolated to make blood thinning drugs and cosmetic additives and flavorings, and in its isolated state it can cause problems such as liver damage.  So you will hear it being referred to as a toxin because concern that eating too much "Cassia" cinnamon could cause liver damage.

I believe this is doubtful, but if you did eat too much you would experience the unpleasant safeties built into a natural substance. All can be taken care of in the restroom. Fortunately, the Cinnamon in Herbal Roots' products is pure Ceylon Cinnamon. So no matter how much you consume, coumarin won't be a problem.

Cinnamon’s History

Cinnamon is a spice that in its early days seduced the whole world. The word goes back to the Malay word "kayumanis" meaning sweet wood.

Fantastic stories were concocted about its origin by traders to conceal its real source. Moves were made and wars were waged and rewaged just to get or keep a monopoly on the spice. Consequently a good bit of "information" on the subject is contradicting. Tracking down the truth about cinnamon through all the different versions of truth has been an adventure.

Here are a couple of stories for example:

Cinnamon is from Paradise and it floats downstream on an unmanned palette and is captured before being lost at the rapids or waterfall.

Cinnamon is found in the nest of huge birds. The way it is harvested is you put out huge chunks of deer meat and the birds take the meat back to the nest which imbalances it and when the nest topples harvesters run around gathering the quills.

Complete nonsense, but it added to the mystique and enabled the charging of high prices and no one could muscle in on the monopoly not knowing where it was found. Until the Portuguese "discovered" it and waged war on the island and told everyone they owned it. Before that the Arabs had it and they kept it a secret.

Then the Dutch after a while took it from the Portuguese. Then the British got involved and waged war on the Dutch.

Then someone stole some seeds and shoots and it started to be grown in neighboring areas and Northern Africa. Well somehow, not surprisingly, it wound up in Mexico too.

Finally Ceylon became a Republic in the Commonwealth in 1972 and renamed itself Sri Lanka. And Ceylon cinnamon is still their largest export item next to tea. About 350,000 families work in the cinnamon business in Sri Lanka.

Benefits of Cinnamon

Some don't even consider Cassia a cinnamon, but that was largely due to marketing done by Ceylon promoters. Both Cassia and Ceylon are in the same genus let alone the same family and if you didn't know anything and tasted either you would still say "That's cinnamon". But you would notice a difference too.

The cinnamon used in Traditional Chinese Medicine was more than likely its own Cassia. In Ayurveda it may have been a mix since India is so close to Sri Lanka. They certainly use them both in cuisine.

In TCM it was used to:

  • Boost energy levels
  • Increase circulation
  • Reduce flatulence
  • Bring back homeostasis after biological intrusions.
  • Help nausea  
  • Help diarrhea 
  • Help with painful periods

In Ayurveda it was used to:

  • Enhance libido
  • Prevent gastrointestinal problems
  • Increase circulation 
  • Relieve indigestion 
  • Help people that had excessive phlegm in the system 
  • Help sugar metabolism

Maybe in ancient times we didn't have problems with excess fat, but we do now and recent studies show that cinnamon takes fat out of the bloodstream which helps the heart and the waistline. 

Since it has a unique and plentiful antioxidant profile, it also acts like a chaperone preventing bad reactions from too much sugar intake and makes it safe for the body to stop ignoring insulin. The body ignores insulin after a while because it doesn't like the effects of bludgeoning the body with useless excess sugar that causes massive free radical damage.The potent antioxidants also protect the delicate tissues of the body such as the eyes and brain.

There are many many volatile oils in cinnamon. Each different kind of cinnamon has its own profile of proportions of these ingredients.

The most plentiful volatile and essential oil is Cinnamaldehyde. It gives that spicey bite to the flavor. Eugenol is the next most plentiful.

Eugenol is a very beneficial substance. It causes the repair of DNA and helps destroy any abnormal proliferation of cells in the body. It also soothes and relaxes body tissues and holds down overreactions that can cause discomfort and maladies. It also keeps the body clear of intruders.

This probably accounts for why cinnamon has a long history throughout the world of preserving things. Including the mummies in Egypt, agricultural crops as well as machinery where the metal is sprinkled with powdered cinnamon to inhibit corrosion.

Did you ever notice how cinnamon makes you feel when you eat it? It is no wonder that it is used for festive occasions and desserts. It's no wonder it drove Man's exploration and progress through history.

I can't wait to add cinnamon to my diet on a regular basis! 

Stock up on Organic Ceylon Cinnamon today!

 

*This article is intended for informational purposes. The statements above have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Author

Rosalie Roder got her Bachelors' degrees in Chemistry and Biology from Mary Baldwin University in 1983. After graduation, with that background, her real education on natural health and healing and human potential began. It is a never ending study and she is always happy to share what she has found out so far.