Cinnamon is one of those spices that go well in just about every type of food! It’s added to your desserts, your main dishes, and even your drinks, thanks to its tangy flavor and its ability to enhance the taste of every food it’s added to. But are you cooking with Ceylon or cassia cinnamon? Most people have no idea what the difference between cassia and ceylon cinnamon is, but the distinction MUST be made. Both cinnamon and cassia come from the same plant family, but not the same plant.
Ceylon Vs. Cassia
Cinnamon–the real deal–comes from the plant Cinnamomum zeylanicum, also known as the Cinnamomum verum plant. If you looked at the name of this plant, you’ll see that it means “true cinnamon”. This is the Ceylon cinnamon that everyone knows as “cinnamon”.
Cassia, on the other hand, comes from a cinnamon plant known as the Cinnamomum cassia or the Cinnamomum burmannii. The former produces “Chinese” or “Saigon cinnamon”, while the latter produces “Padang cassia” or “Java cinnamon”. None of these types of cinnamon are “true” cinnamon, and only the stuff that comes from the Cinnamomum verum is considered the real deal.
The two plants share many of the same characteristics, and they offer many of the same health benefits as well. For example, cinnamon is known to regulate blood sugar levels, and cassia offers the same control over blood glucose. Both cinnamon and cassia are potent antibacterials.
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The Main Difference – Coumarin Content
Both cinnamon and cassia contain a plant compound called coumarin. When consumed in large quantities, coumarin can be toxic, affecting the nervous system and the liver. Cassia contains higher traces of this compound (around 4%), while the amount of coumarin in ceylon cinnamon is only around 0.04%.
Consuming large quantities of cassia could lead to a wide range of health problems, while consuming ceylon is fairly safe.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) established a tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 0.1 mg/kg body weight according to this University of Mississippi study of April 2013. The chart below shows an extract of these findings.
|Type of Cinnamon||Coumarin Content|
|Ceylon Cinnamon, True Cinnamon. Mexican Cinnamon||0.017 g/kg|
|Indonesian Cinnamon, Korintje Cinnamon, Padang Cassia||2.15 g/kg|
|Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese cassia. Vietnamese cinnamon||6.97 g/kg|
|Cassia Cinnamon or Chinese Cinnamon||0.31 g/kg|