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The Health Dangers of Cassia Cinnamon

 Though you might be well aware of the delicious taste and health benefits that cinnamon brings, you may not realize that there are many different varieties of the spice. Some of these are really healthy, benefiting your blood sugar, heart health and dental health, yet the majority of the cheap cinnamon on the market in the US today contains a high proportion of coumarin, which is known to be toxic for your liver. 


So, if you've been increasing your cinnamon intake after hearing of its wonderful health benefits, you will want to know more about how you can avoid eating the wrong kind of cinnamon, and why you should do so.

Types of Cinnamon
cinnamon health dangers

Though there are some 13 varieties of cinnamon available to purchase, we can group these into two clear categories: cassia and verum. Verum is the Latin word for ‘true’ because this cinnamon group is the real deal and comes from Sri Lanka. Thus it is usually referred to as Ceylon Cinnamon. Everything good you have heard about the spice can be attributed to Ceylon or verum cinnamon.

Cassia Cinnamon, on the other hand, derives from three different regions: Vietnam, China, and Indonesia. Most commonly used for flavoring, cassia now dominates the cinnamon market in the US because of its cheap cost, though its use has been severely restricted and partially banned in the EU due to real concerns about its poisonous health effects. Thus far, there is no sign that cassia’s sale will be restricted in the US.

The health dangers of cassia
cinnamon health dangers

Cheap and hard cassia contains between 2 to 8% of a phytochemical called coumarin, a dangerous ingredient of rat poison, which has been shown to cause cancer in rodents. According to the BFR in Germany, coumarin taken in even low doses can lead to liver damage, as listed below:  

•  Mild symptoms could see an increase in the number of liver enzymes in the blood. 
•  Extreme cases can see liver inflammation manifested as jaundice. 
•  Cassia has strong anticoagulant properties that prevent the blood from coagulating after an injury.


So far, it is thought that these detrimental liver effects are reversible.

Cut down on Cassia and seek out Ceylon cinnamon
cinnamon health dangersAbove: dangerous cassia; below: healthy Ceylon cinnamon
The BFR advise that those who use cassia moderately in cooking are not at great risk of liver damage. They estimate that a person weighing 60kg can consume 6mg of coumarin every day without concern. However, it is quite tricky to ascertain how much coumarin is contained with the cassia you use in your kitchen. 
The BFR suggest that those who are used to consuming cinnamon frequently, for example in rice puddings, cinnamon rolls or coffee, should immediately switch to Ceylon (Verum) cinnamon which contains very low levels of coumarin. It may, however, be more expensive.
When shopping for cinnamon, bear the following differences in mind: Ceylon (verum) looks more like a cigar. It's quite slender and brittle. Cassia looks like two scrolls pushed together. It is thick and hard to break. 
Watch the following video to give you a clearer idea of the respective differences between cassia and ceylon: 

Click here to read about the tremendous health benefits of Ceylon Cinnamon!

Images courtesy of depositphotos.com

sources: 1; 2

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