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My Love Affair With Saigon (Vietnamese) Cinnamon and 9 Reasons Cinnamon Rocks!

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I love cinnamon. Of all the spices, it’s probably my favorite. I’ve always been a huge fan, but when I ground my first Vietnamese cinnamon stick and tasted the spicy, sweet powder, I was lifted to a whole different realm of cinnamon happiness. I had no idea that cinnamon could taste this good, and this is coming from someone who already loved this spice. I knew that I had to find ways to eat it in everything I could. And, when I couldn’t find a food appropriate to eat it in, then I’d just crunch on a stick! :) Seriously. I do. The flavor reminds me of a red hot candy in that it’s sweet and fiery at the same time. Much, much stronger than your traditional cinnamon. There have been a few sticks that I’ve tried that have actually made my eyes water.

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The World’s BEST Cinnamon

So, what makes cinnamon, specifically Saigon, aka. Vietnamese cinnamon, so special? Well, the first thing is the fact that Saigon cinnamon has 1-5% essential oil in content and 25% cinnamaldehyde in essential oil, which is the highest of all the cinnamon varieties (supposedly, the oil levels are so high that it will actually spark if you light it on fire … I did not however test this theory). Because of this high oil content, it is more expensive than the traditional cinnamon you find in the store. Chefs hold Saigon cinnamon as the best in the world. Once you taste it, you’ll understand why. If you purchase some of this cinnamon, and I HIGHLY encourage you to do so, you will never, ever go back to plain old, pre-ground cinnamon. This is the only cinnamon I will ever use and I actually buy the sticks in bulk, so that I never run out! Don’t buy the pre-ground stuff. Buy the whole cinnamon sticks and use a coffee grinder to whiz it up whenever you need it. A micro-plane also works well if you just need a touch of the spice for a recipe, but I often will grind up several whole sticks at a time.

Follow Me on Pinterest Even though it is called Saigon cinnamon, it is not produced in the southern Saigon area. Most production takes place in central and northern Vietnam, and is harvested for both for exporting and domestic use. When the Vietnam War took place, it interfered with the production of this spice, and it was unavailable in the U.S. for 20 years. Since the start of the 21st century, Vietnam has started exporting the spice again. It remains a staple ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine, and is used in my favorite Vietnamese dish, a noodle soup called phở. If you want a great recipe for homemade phở, check out my friend Debbie’s recipe from Easy Natural Food. Mmmm … this is making me hungry! :)

Did you know that cinnamon is mentioned in Chinese writings as far back as 2800 B.C.? Or, did you know that in Ancient Egypt, cinnamon was a vital part of the embalming process? How about the fact that cinnamon was only affordable by the affluent in the Middle Ages, and a person’s social rank could be determined by the number of spices they owned? For more interesting facts and trivia, check out the Eat This! website.

Why Cinnamon Rocks!

So, now that you know a little about this specific type of cinnamon, I want to tell you why cinnamon rocks. It is awesome, primarily because it tastes good and is good for you, but here are some specific reasons:

  • It adds a sweet, intense depth of flavor to both sweet and savory food.
  • Studies have shown that it helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. Using cinnamon with higher-carb foods can help prevent spikes in insulin levels. For diabetics, there have been some studies that have shown that cinnamon can help the body respond better to insulin and therefore stabilize blood sugar.
  • Studies have shown that cinnamon helps prevent blood clots by keeping platelets from sticking together and causing disruptions in our cardiovascular system.
  • Studies have shown that cinnamon holds antimicrobial properties and can help stop bacterial, fungal, and yeast growth. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods websiteCinnamon’s antimicrobial properties are so effective that recent research demonstrates this spice can be used as an alternative to traditional food preservatives. In a study, published in the August 2003 issue of the International Journal of Food Microbiology, the addition of just a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to 100 ml (approximately 3 ounces) of carrot broth, which was then refrigerated, inhibited the growth of the foodborne pathogenic Bacillus cereus for at least 60 days. When the broth was refrigerated without the addition of cinnamon oil, the pathogenic B. cereus flourished despite the cold temperature. In addition, researchers noted that the addition of cinnamon not only acted as an effective preservative but improved the flavor of the broth.”
  • Cinnamon can make your brain function better. A study in 2004 showed that people who smelled cinnamon had better brain function than those who didn’t.
  • Cinnamon is a good source of fiber, manganese, and calcium. The fiber/calcium combination has been shown to help bind bile salts and eliminate them from the body, which can help lower colon cancer risks.
  • Cinnamon is used in traditional Chinese medicine as an immune booster, especially when a cold or flu is first felt. I mix fresh ground cinnamon with raw honey and take a teaspoonful each day to help with immunity.
  • Studies are showing that cinnamon can help lower blood pressure.
  • Cinnamon is a natural preservative. Studies have shown that when added to food, it inhibits the growth of bacteria and pathogens.

These are just a few of the ways that cinnamon rocks! As usual, if you are interested in adding cinnamon to your diet, please consult your primary care physician before doing so. Cinnamon does not often cause any allergic reactions or negative health effects, however each one of us is different, so we could all have a different reactions. According to the Eat This! site, there have been some known side effects of consuming large amounts of cinnamon.

So, tell me, do you like cinnamon? How do you use it in your kitchen? How often do you use it? Have you tried Saigon cinnamon?

Sources:

Saigon Cinnamon“, Wikipedia

18 Facts About Cinnamon“, Eat This!

10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon“, Eat This!

Side Effects of Cinnamon“, Eat This!

Interesting and Useful Cinnamon Facts“, Antioxidents for Health and Logevity

Cinnamon, ground“, The World’s Healthiest Foods

Phở soup image courtesy of Wikipedia

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About Jessica Espinoza

Jessica is a real food nut, coconut everything enthusiast, avid reader and researcher, blossoming yogi, and animal lover. She has had a life-long passion for food and being in the kitchen is where she is the happiest. Jessica started Delicious Obsessions in 2010 as a way to help share her love for food and cooking. Since then, it has grown into a trusted online resource with a vibrant community of people learning to live healthy, happy lives through real food and natural living.

Discussion

16 comments

  1. I don’t see Sigon cinnamon listed on the Frontier website. Does it go by another name? Which one is the exact cinnamon that you purchase? Thanks for the article!

    reply 

    Katie P
    Posted 04/04/12

  2. Thanks for the link back to my Faux Pho! Love your post on cinnamon, its one of my all time favorite spices too! But I wasn’t aware of all its amazing health benefits, so that’s a great bonus! My all time favorite use of cinnamon is with apple – as in apple pie, apple crisp, applesauce, apple (fill in the blank :)

    btw – I stocked up on cinnamon through Azure a couple weeks ago, and I purposefully bought Saigon Cinnamon! Yay!

    reply 
  3. I’m a bit addicted to cinnamon myself. I love adding it to savory dishes because people don’t typically expect it.

    reply 

    Lisa @ Snappy Gourmet
    Posted 04/04/12

  4. We had no clue Saigon Cinnamon was in pho, which we’re addicted to. We were looking for a great recipe for pho and so glad you linked back to one! It’s perfect for the gloomy weather where we live.

    reply 

    Minted Magazine
    Posted 04/11/12

  5. How could I have missed this post? I love cinnamon as well – and Saigon is delicious!

    reply 
  6. Ha, We found your post because we wrote a post a long while back about our love of Vietnamese cinnamon — for our coffee — on the milk froth. Makes the drink. I even will travel with my cinnamon! I also use quite a bit when I make oatmeal for my two small children because of the health benefits… Anyway, we link to your above post…:) http://athleticmindedtraveler.com/blog/if-you-drink-coffee

    Best,
    Erin
    follow @healthytravel

    reply 

    erin
    Posted 12/02/12

    • Hi Erin – Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the link! Much appreciated! It’s nice to meet another Vietnamese cinnamon lover. I seriously can’t get enough of it! It is excellent in coffee, so I totally agree there! :)

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 12/03/12

  7. Hmm, just got some and it was not the scent/flavor I was looking for. And it does seem a bit oily. Still searching.

    reply 

    NJtoTX
    Posted 03/17/13

    • Interesting. Mine have never been oily. The scent/taste is richly cinnamon-y and very spicy. I get mine from Frontier Co-Op and that’s actually the only brand I’ve ever tried.

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 03/17/13

  8. I use vietnamese cinnamon as a drink, by adding a half teaspoon in a mug and pour boiling water over it it so delicious and sweet, i started tondrink three cups every day, i lve this stuff,

    reply 

    Valerie
    Posted 04/21/13

    • So simple! I bet it’s delish. I’m going to try that! :)

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 04/21/13

  9. Hi..you had mentioned the possible dangers of cinnamon…from what I’ve been reading, that is very true!! also, it’s my understanding that the only cinnamon that is “safe” to use regularly & that gives all the wonderful health benefits without the “risk” is Ceylon cinnamon…pretty scary that some of the dangers of the other cinnamon’s are not only getting very sick but possibly death.. :( Ceylon is more expensive than the others…isn’t that always the way, that something “healthier” costs more… :( I did buy some & it is very different from what we’re used to that is commonly sold…very good, tho!! you have to be careful where you buy it to be sure it’s the real Ceylon cinnamon…

    reply 

    Karen
    Posted 11/15/13

    • Hi Karen – I have mixed thoughts on that. I have heard that before, but have also heard other experts say that cassia is actually the one you need for “health benefits”. Cassia has had more scientific studies done, just because it is more widely available. I personally feel that there are benefits in any variety you use — they’re all from the same family and while some of the compounds are going to be different, all offer some benefits. I much prefer the taste of Vietnamese cinnamon to any other variety and from a culinary standpoint, it is the most sought after by chefs since the flavor is so powerful. Just my two pennies. I am far from an expert and continue to learn each and every day! Thanks for stopping by! :)

      reply 

      Jessica
      Posted 11/16/13

      • It’s not that cassia (the other two varieties that are not actually ‘true’ cinnamon – including vietnamese variety) have no health benefits. It’s about what the difference is between true cinnamon and cassia: “…What true cinnamon and cassia do not have in common is their coumarin content. Coumarins are naturally occurring plant components that can have strong anticoagulant properties. Because our blood needs to maintain its ability to coagulate in times of injury, excessive intake of coumarins over a prolonged period of time can pose health risks. While the level of naturally occurring coumarins in Ceylon cinnamon appears to be very small and lower than the amount that could cause health risks, the level of naturally occurring coumarins in the cassia cinnamons appears to be higher and may pose a risk to some individuals if consumed in substantial amounts on a regular basis. For this reason, organizations like the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin, Germany have recommended that large amounts of the cassia cinnamons be avoided…” http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=newtip&dbid=31
        Because the risks of relatively large amts of cinnamon consumed regularly are primarily associated with CASSIA, I stick to true (Ceylon) cinnamon. I use 1/2tsp daily in my smoothies, at minimum. It’s also in my organic chai green tea mix, which I sip all the time, every day. For the once-in-a-while treat, cassia has little if any risk. For health benefits without risk, stick to Ceylon cinnamon!

        reply 

        D'ANN
        Posted 12/01/13

        • Thanks for sharing D’Ann! This is great info! :)

          reply 

          Jessica
          Posted 12/01/13

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