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Cinnamon is a fantastic spice that not only imparts a magnificent aroma to a wide variety of foods, but it also considered to have all kinds of fantastic healing benefits. Furthermore, as you will soon see, there are all kinds of ingenious alternative uses of cinnamon.
There is, however, a serious fly in the ointment as far as cinnamon is concerned – much of the cinnamon consumed in the world nowadays is not real cinnamon (aka Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamomum zeylanicum), it is cassia! This is a potential problem because cassia (also known as cassia cinnamon, Saigon cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon or Cinnamomum aromaticum) contains much higher levels of coumarins, substances that have strong anticoagulant properties and may also be harmful to the liver when consumed in quantity. It has been advised to go easy on cassia as it may not be good for your health.
If you are buying cinnamon powder, it is very difficult to tell the difference between the two – however if you are buying cinnamon sticks, it is easy to tell the difference when you know what you are looking at. Be prepared to be seeing a lot of cassia, though. You’ll be amazed how much of the so-called cinnamon around is actually Cassia.
Here is how to tell the difference:
1) True cinnamon is a paler tan brown color (see our pic), as opposed to the more reddish rust-brown of cassia.
2) True cinnamon has a thin, paper-textured bark that forms multiple thin layers when rolled up. Cassia bark is much thicker, forming only a few layers.
3) True cinnamon is way more fragile, and much more easily crumbled – with the ends often appearing more broken up. Cassia is much tougher and more difficult to grind.
4) True cinnamon has a delicate, sweeter aroma, whereas cassia is more pungent and full bodied.
5) True cinnamon is up to 10x more expensive and harder to obtain.
Another part of the problem is that during the harvesting and drying process, the thicker cassia is more prone to mold and so is typically treated more heavily with pesticides!
If you are using cinnamon, especially for its health benefits, it is very important to get the real stuff. And now, you are in the know! To see some pictures that illustrate this nicely, follow this link to a google images search result for “cinnamon vs cassia”.
This little point of safety out of the way, w can move on to today’s discovery: We found a great article listing 20 Weird Uses and Health Benefits of Cinnamon. Here is the link: http://ecosalon.com/20-unusual-ways-to-use-cinnamon
ps. if you want to learn much more about cinnamon, including history, medicinal uses and scientific studies, please visit our full-length cinnamon page.