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The Two Main Cinnamon Types

Just as there are various kinds and sources of vanilla, pepper, and other flavorings and spices, so there are different cinnamons actually, two main ones: Ceylon (True) Cinnamon vs. Cassia Cinnamon. Both come in two basic forms: sticks (also called quills) or powdered. The sticks of both are dried in the sun and thus end up curling, the shape many of us are used to.

Eons ago, cinnamon was broken into four types of cinnamon, causing some confusion: Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Called True cinnamon or Cinnamomum verumwhich is an alternate Latin name for the plant. Grown in Sri Lanka (formerly called Ceylon). Cinnamomum Iners Called Cassia, meaning literally the peel of the plant (bark) which is scraped off the tree. Grown in Arabia and Ethiopia. Cinnamomum Tamala Called Malabathrum or Malobathrum (from the Sanskrit word tamlapattram, meaning literally dark-tree leaves). There are several other species in this group, all grown in northern India. Cinnamomum Cassia Called Serichatum and grown in China.

Some product descriptions still list things like made with four types of cinnamon, but basically, the two named at the beginning of this article are the ones most commonly available. Here are more details on each: Ceylon (True) Cinnamon In a nutshell: Comes from the species Cinnamomum Zeylanicum (a laurel tree whose first name is a variation of the Greek word kinnmmon and second name is the Latin version of Ceylon). Light brown color, thin and soft, sticks filled and fibrous inside, delicate aroma, sweet taste, and .004% coumarin (a naturally occurring substance with strong blood-thinning properties) content. Grown in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Ceylon cinnamon (also called true cinnamon) is more expensive than Cassia, which explains why it is rarer and usually only sold in specialty stores. The fine, less dense, and more crumbly texture is because only the thin inner bark is used here. These softer quills can be easily ground in a coffee grinder, so you might want to buy it in this form. This true type of cinnamon is supposed to have a number of health benefits, especially for controlling diabetes and cholesterol but also to help with weight loss. Cassia Cinnamon In a nutshell: Comes from the species Cinnamomum Cassia. Dark reddish-brown color, thick and hard, hollow sticks, harsh aroma, flat/stronger taste, and 5% coumarin content (which can be a problem since it thins the blood and can build up in your system over time). Grown in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia (Cinnamomum burmannii called Korintje cinnamon).

Cassia cinnamon is more common, less expensive, and what you usually are buying when you shop in supermarkets in North America. This variety comes from small trees grown in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Brazil, Vietnam, and Egypt. They are often labeled as cinnamon but sometimes distinguished from true cinnamon by being lab eled as Chinese cinnamon, Vietnamese cinnamon, or Indonesian cinnamon. Cassia has a much stronger flavor than Ceylon cinnamon, is generally reddish-brown in color, and rather woody in texture since all of the layers of bark are used. Cinnamon as Valuable Commodity Transporting things like cinnamon over long distances tended to make them rare and valuable commodities gifts fit for royalty and potentates. Cinnamon was imported to Egypt from China as early as 2000 B.C.E. Later, it was commonly used on funeral pyres in Rome (one legend is that in 65 C.E., Emperor Nero burned a years supply of cinnamon at his wifes funeral). Uses for Cinnamon Cinnamon as a flavor enhancer varies from country to country. Middle Eastern countries often use it for flavoring meats (lamb, poultry, etc.) whereas a lot of Western cooks use it in sweet things, especially baked goods like apple pies, cinnamon rolls, and hot cinnamon candies. These days a big use is in flavored teas, especially those known as chais (meaning teas that are spiced, often with a heavy dose of cinnamon).

Adding "Spice" to Your Life!

Munira Erinpurwala Dietitian at Qua Nutrition When we talk of antioxidants, the images that are conjured in our minds includes those of juicy blueberries, red wine or brightly coloured fruits such as oranges, kiwis & plums. What is little known is that numerous herbs & spices, such as turmeric, clove, oregano, etc also are rich sources of antioxidants. Just 1/2 teaspoon of ground clove is said to contain more antioxidants than 1/2 cup of blueberries. A little teaspoon of dried oregano contains antioxidants equal to those provided by a whole cup of sweet potatoes. By definition, Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. In nature, antioxidants protect living organisms from oxidative stress. By consuming antioxidant-rich foods, its believed the human body obtains these protective benefits, ranging from fending off age-related wrinkles to preventing chronic illnesses such as heart disease & cancer. Examples of well-recognized antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene & plant-derived polyphenolic compounds such as quercetin in citrus fruits & resveratrol in red grapes. In this 2 part series of posts, we will look at five dried herbs & spices that rank highest in antioxidant content per 100 g: 1. CLOVE: What is it? Native to the islands of Indonesia, clove is derived from the dried flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. Clove lends its distinctively strong flavor & aroma to ketchup & sauce preparations & historically has been used as a natural numbing agent. What does it contain? Dried clove is rich in polyphenolic compounds, a large class of plant-based compounds thought to impart antioxidant properties. In 2010, scientists at Miguel Hernndez University in Spain reported that clove ranks highest as a natural antioxidant due to its phenol content & demonstrated ability to inhibit several damaging oxidative processes. How can We use it? Due to its pungent aroma, many may be unsure how to subtly incorporate clove in cooking. Ground clove can be used wherever cinnamon or ginger is added. For example, ground clove can be stirred into oatmeal, rice & some curries. It is also a pleasant addition to muffins, cookies & whole grain pancakes. 2. GINGER: What is it? Dried, ground ginger comes from the root of the perennial herb Zingiber officinale. After the plant reaches its 2- to 4-ft growth potential, the leaves die & the thick roots are dug up for consumption. What does it contain? Ginger contains several compounds that are thought to provide health benefits. Among them is Gingerol, a relative of capsaicin found in chili peppers, which lends the root its characteristic spiciness. Historically, ginger has been used to

treat everything from the common cold to motion sickness & gastrointestinal ailments. Animal studies show that ginger may protect tissues & organs against oxidative damage & prevent cancer development & growth. How can We use it? Ground ginger can be added as a gentle spice to foods. They can be added to fruit smoothies, cereals, or yogurt & sprinkled on toast. Ground ginger instantly adds a typical Asian flair to sauted vegetables, salad dressings & marinades. One could also sprinkle ground ginger on sweet potatoes for an antioxidantpacked side dish. 3. OREGANO: What is it? Cultivated for centuries & widely used in Mediterranean & Mexican cuisine. It is scientifically known as Origanum vulgare & occasionally referred to as wild marjoram (to which its a close relative). The common oregano comes from the dried leaves of a small perennial flowering shrub thats native to the Mediterranean & cultivated worldwide. What does it contain? Within its green, oval-shaped leaves, oregano is rich in phytochemicals such as Thymol & Rosmarinic acid, along with the antioxidant vitamin E. Studies have shown oregano to have the highest total antioxidant capacity & phenolic content when compared with thyme, sage, rosemary, mint & sweet basil. In addition, oregano may increase brain antioxidant activity & total antioxidant status. How can We use it? With a little creative thinking, oregano can be used for far more than pizza. A sprinkle of oregano can enliven sandwiches (eg, grilled cheese) as well as casseroles, salad dressings & omelettes. 4. CINNAMON: What is it? Cinnamon, considered one of the first known spices, is the dried inner bark of various evergreen trees within the genus Cinnamomum. When harvested, the tree bark is stripped & allowed to dry in the sun where it forms its characteristic curls known as quills. What does it contain? Antioxidant components of cinnamon, such as Cinnamaldehyde, identified in cell cultures & animal studies, suggest cinnamon may act as an antioxidant in humans. A recent study comparing the antioxidant potential of several plants, including cinnamon, spinach, chard, artichoke & red cabbage, found that extracts of cinnamon had the most potent antioxidant effects. How can We use it? Cinnamon is incredibly versatile & can be sprinkled on foods like oatmeal [&] yogurt, or mixed in a glass of milk. It can be used to jazz up plain cereal or sprinkled on toast with almond butter, or added to baked apples or pears. If you prefer something sweet, you can use cinnamon for that extra flavor & a sense of sweetness without adding actual sugar. Cinnamon also makes an excellent addition to savory dishes such as quinoa, broken wheat porridge or barley. 5. TURMERIC: What is it? Like ginger, dried turmeric originates from the root of the plant Curcuma longa. Noted for its bright yellow color, turmeric gives curry powder its distinctive hue & is used to add color & flavor to prepared mustard, pickles, relish, chutneys & rice dishes. What does it contain? Curcumin, the bright yellow polyphenol compound found in turmeric, has been the focus of intense research due to its potential to avert chronic diseases such as

cancer, heart disease, arthritis & Alzheimers disease. Curcumin has bee n shown to inhibit the expression of a specific gene thats believed to lead to the development & progression of breast cancer. How can We use it? Turmeric can be added to any vegetable side dish for a little curry flavor. Dried turmeric has a strong taste & is best cooked a bit before consumption. It has a unique ability to add rich color to any dish & since we eat with our eyes first, turmeric can really help out a dish!

Blend Inputs Masala Chai: By blending premium white tea with cinnamon, whole cloves, cardamom, ginger roots.