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I have posted several times about the dangers and benefits of using cinnamon as a supplement. At the end of this post are a few excerpts from one of the original articles. (Read the whole article here:

In the last few weeks I have noticed that true cinnamon is now available in stick form at World Market stores and under Freida’s brand at grocery stores. Better yet, it is only slightly more expensive than the sticks of cassia. Either kind is safe when used as an extract, so if you are using a stick of cinnamon and removing it at the end of the cooking time, it should not pose a problem. When you need to use cinnamon powder in a recipe, however, true cinnamon is preferred to cassia, but it has been difficult to find and much more expensive. Now we have the option of buying true cinnamon sticks and crushing or grinding them for use in baked goods and spiced dishes without paying a premium price for it.

.I bought some of each and took a photograph to show you how to tell the difference between the two varieties, as it is not always clearly stated on the label. In the picture at the top of this post, the four sticks on the left, the ones that look like thick scrolls, are cassia; the three shaggy ones on the right are true cinnamon.

Excepts for Sept. 8, 2008 article:

“Since the insulin-like properties of cinnamon were discovered, it has become a popular treatment or prophylactic for insulin resistance and diabetes. Many people assume that if a little is good, more is better, but there is a potential danger in taking too much or the wrong kind. Cinnamon contains coumarin, an anti-coagulant and possibly carcinogenic substance that can cause liver inflammation.

The European Food Safety Authority concluded that the TDI (tolerable daily intake) for coumarin is 0.0002 ounces per day for a 130-pound adult, an amount easily exceeded during the Christmas holidays and that as little as three cinnamon cookies could contain enough of the toxin to harm a small child. If the amount is exceeded for a short time only, it may be reversible in a few weeks, but taking supplements made from powdered cinnamon bark regularly may not be such a good idea….

There are two kinds of cinnamon, but product labels do not usually specify the type. Ceylon, or true cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), is a pale tan color; it is milder, sweeter, and more expensive than cassia. Cassia, or common cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia), is redder, stronger in flavor, and cheaper in price. Most of the cinnamon sold in the US is cassia rather than true cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon sticks are tight rolls of thin layers; cassia sticks are hollow tubes of thicker bark…. Cassia cinnamon contains 0.5% coumarin, while Ceylon contains only 0.0004%.The beneficial compounds in cinnamon are soluble in water. Coumarin is not, so a water extract of cinnamon will not contain any of the hazardous substance.”

© 2008, Judy Barnes Baker

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