Cinnamon contains “proanthocyanidins, molecules that are capable of forcing cancer cells to commit suicide (apoptosis). In the laboratory, these molecules act on several cancer lines and are particularly effective against colon cancer. ” [page 118, Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, David, Anticancer, A New Way of Life, 2009 Edition]
Also, some studies have shown that cinnamon slows the assimilation of sugar and reduces insulin peaks, which is a good thing, because the less sugar in your blood, the less food for cancer cells — which feed on sugar. Other foods that reduce the rise in blood sugar include onions or garlic, blueberries, cherries, and raspberries. [page 72, Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, David, Anticancer, A New Way of Life, 2009 Edition]
I used to use any variety of cinnamon that I found in the supermarket. Then I discovered the great flavor of Korintje cassia cinnamon – the intense and slightly sweet cinnamon that is often used in commercial cinnamon buns (why it smells so great when you pass the cinnamon bun stall at the mall). BUT, after doing a little research for this blog, I learned that cassia cinnamon contains coumarin — a compound about which there are some serious health-related concerns. In fact, Germany has taken cassia cinnamon off the market in that country because of these health concerns.
To be sure to avoid cassia cinnamon, I now cook ONLY with cinnamon that is specifically labeled: Ceylon cinnamon, which I buy at Penzeys Spices (online or at their bricks and mortar stores).
Unfortunately, in the US, most of the ground cinnamon is cassia cinnamon and the label simply says “cinnamon” — so you don’t know what you are buying, unless you get your cinnamon from a specialty spices store where the varieties are clearly labeled.
By the way, Ceylon cinnamon has a somewhat soft/mild cinnamon flavor so you may need to use a lot of it to get the cinnamon flavor you want. That’s why I buy Ceylon cinnamon by the four-ounce bag. It’s also less expensive per ounce in the bag than in the smaller jars. (By the way, Penzeys Spices also sells inexpensive empty glass jars, with shaker top inserts, so I pour the cinnamon from the bag into one of those jars.)
To learn more about cinnamon
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s About Herbs (and spices) database
- German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has a good FAQ about cinnamon.
- Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages
Recipes with cinnamon
Enjoy and be healthy!