They are two of the most common types of cinnamon, the only remaining question is, which is better, Ceylon cinnamon vs. Cassia cinnamon?
Ceylon cinnamon is better than cassia because it contains many various layers of the bark making the taste richer and texture softer. Ceylon cinnamon is equally recognized for possessing fewer levels of cinnamaldehyde, making it a more preferred option than cassia cinnamon for consumption.
I’ll discuss some differences between these types of cinnamon. In addition, what you should consider when trying to determine which type will be the better choice for your culinary preferences.
What is the difference between Ceylon and Cassia Cinnamon?
Cassia cinnamon is the more common type of cinnamon. It is widely available, and you can find it in pretty much in any supermarket. Its availability lowers the price considerably in comparison to Ceylon cinnamon.
Most of the Cassia cinnamon comes from southern China, which is why it is also known as Chinese cinnamon. Because of its extensive cultivation and different growing conditions, many different subtypes developed over time.
On the other hand, Ceylon cinnamon also referred to as true cinnamon is the more expensive counterpart to Cassia cinnamon. It originated from Sri Lanka, but with time it spread to southern parts of India as well 1.
It’s a bit more difficult to produce since the standard for its quality has been set higher. This affects the price, making Ceylon a bit more expensive and hence less available.
Cinnamon as we know it comes from the inner bark of several trees from the Cinnamomum genus. The bark is collected and then dried. Since most people are familiar with the ground version, there are not many ways you can differentiate the two types.
However, if you purchase it in its stick form, you will notice Ceylon cinnamon is significantly lighter 2 than Cassia’s deep brown to reddish-brown color.
Another trait you can use to differentiate these two types is their texture. Ceylon cinnamon sticks consist of many soft layers that are easily ground up into cinnamon powder. These layers are less dense making them easier to grind.
On the contrary, Cassia cinnamon sticks are much harder, wood-like texture and are overall thicker. This texture is the reason why Cassia cinnamon is typically sold either in a thick piece of bark or in the powder form 3. The texture does not allow it to be rolled into thin quills like Ceylon cinnamon.
Can you store cinnamon in the fridge or does it even matter? You can check out my blog post on it by clicking here, Can You Store Cinnamon in the Fridge?
The Difference Regarding the Taste?
There is a noticeable difference in the taste between the two types of cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon gives off a richer and sweeter taste. This creates a contrasting difference to the strong and spicy flavor coming from the Cassia cinnamon.
If it’s not dried properly, Ceylon cinnamon has a richer taste and softer texture than cassia cinnamon. the taste of the bark will become overly bitter.
The difference is caused by many different things but most importantly, the amount of cinnamaldehyde 4. Since Ceylon cinnamon typically doesn’t contain more than 63% of it and Cassia cinnamon is normally in the range of 90%.
Ceylon cinnamon is more suitable for sweet dishes and desserts. It’s used in many kinds of cereal and fruit pies as well as drinks like eggnog and mulled wine.
Cassia cinnamon is used for more savory dishes like soups and tagines as well as chicken and lamb. In addition, it’s a staple of Portuguese, Persian and Turkish cuisine. Cinnamon is a main ingredient for flavoring in many alcoholic drinks like cinnamon-flavored whiskey and rakomelo.
The taste of the cinnamon is also caused by the small number of essential oils inside the bark. The amount rarely surpasses the 1% mark but is one of the most important parts in creating the flavor.
The oil is brought up by pounding the bark, macerating it in seawater, and then distilling it. The signature taste and smell of the cinnamon are created once the cinnamaldehyde in the oil reacts with oxygen.
To conduct original research I set up a cinnamon blind taste test at home. I added both types of cinnamon, ground to oatmeal which was on the menu for breakfast.
Out of four people, three chose the Ceylon cinnamon over cassia. Therefore, 75% found Ceylon cinnamon to taste better than Cassia.
Health Benefits of Ceylon and Cassia Cinnamon
Besides putting you in a better mood by stimulating your senses, cinnamon has been proven to have many other health benefits 5.
As far as differentiating Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon there’s not much research that explores their differences. Currently, the general consensus is that different types of cinnamon have the same health effects.
Most notably cinnamon is known to help with the treatment of Diabetes. Cinnamon helps bring insulin levels to normal and helps glucose to metabolize in the liver 6.
It’s also been recorded that cinnamon reduces insulin resistance making it a promising alternative for synthetic insulin.
Cinnamon contains cinnamic acid which has anti-inflammatory properties which help blood flow easier and in turn puts less strain on the heart. Aside from this, it improves cardiovascular function and contributes to heart health.
The anti-inflammatory qualities support the immune system which is a subtle way to prevent and treat certain types of cancer 7.
Cinnamon also blocks a protein called tau, common with Alzheimer’s disease.
Even though both types have the same health benefits and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise there is one important difference to consider when talking about health. Cassia cinnamon contains Coumarin. Coumarin is known to be harmful to humans when consumed more than the recommended amount.
The general rule is you can have 0.2 milligram of it per every pound of your body weight. This means a teaspoon or two could bring you over that limit. The crucial difference regarding this is Cassia cinnamon contains on average 1% of Coumarin and with Ceylon, that number is far less, usually not more than 0.0004% 8.
Coumarin has also been recorded to interfere with certain medications used for treating liver and heart problems. When taking medication for the liver such as paracetamol, acetaminophen, and statins cinnamon may increase the chances for damage to these organs.
Since cassia has more coumarin than Ceylon, if you’re consuming a lot of cinnamon daily you’d be better off with Ceylon.
If you have any questions about this article don’t hesitate to comment below or email us. You can find an email on our contact page.
Read Next – More Cinnamon and Spice Articles!
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Medicinal properties of “true” cinnamon: a systemic review
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Cinnamon: Mystic powers of a minute ingredient
- Wikipedia: Cinnamomum cassia
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Cinnamaldehyde
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of Different Amounts of Cinnamon Consumption on Blood Glucose in Healthy Adult Individuals
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Anti-inflammatory Activity of Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil in a Human Skin Disease Model
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Assessment of Coumarin Levels in Ground Cinnamon Available in the Czech Retail Market