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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.
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 website, Cinnamon’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 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?
Supporting a The Adrenals, Thyroid, and Whole Body Through Herbs
When it comes to supporting overall wellness, herbs are a great tool to have in your toolkit, especially those who may be dealing with chronic illness of some type. Since 2009, when I started this site, I have met thousands upon thousands of people through my work and by far, the #1 health complaints are:
- adrenal fatigue (or adrenal dysfunction of some sort) (click here to read all of my adrenal health articles)
- thyroid disorders (hypo-, hyper-, or autoimmune) (click here to read all of my thyroid health articles)
Because of this, I wanted to add in a section into this post about the benefit of using herbs with chronic illness.
If you are dealing with any type of chronic illness, I’m sorry to break it to you, but caffeine may not be your best friend. 🙁 While you can find lots of info online in both the pro- and the anti-coffee camps, the fact of the matter comes down to the fact that are a lot of people dealing with chronic illness, especially thyroid and adrenal problems, that simply cannot tolerate coffee and caffeine.
While those with sluggish adrenal glands tend to feel run down and in need of a regular pick-me-up (like coffee and other caffeinated beverages), in the long run, caffeine can do more harm than good while you are healing. I go into the “whys” around caffeine and your adrenals in this detailed post here. In addition to the caffeine, there are other constituents, molds, and mycotoxins that can show up in coffee that some people find they react to and can further exacerbate the toxic load on the body.
When I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue, one of the first things that had to go was coffee. In addition to dealing with these issues, we suspected that I was having some detox pathway sluggishness so we wanted to also focus on supporting the liver and lymph systems. Most people who are dealing with chronic illness are also going to have issues with detoxification of the body, which is why herbs can play such an important role.
To be honest, I never drank coffee because of the caffeine. I drank coffee for the taste and aroma, as well as the emotional experience I felt to my morning cup of joe. For me, it was a ritual that I looked forward to every day (and sometimes multiple times a day). Whether I was brewing it at home or going to my local coffee shops, the experience was one that I clung to tightly.
But, when I was faced with new health struggles, I knew I had to do whatever I could to support my body and give it the tools it needed to heal. Giving up coffee and caffeine was one step in this direction.
And it sucked.
I turned to the coffee substitutes on the market in a desperate attempt to recreate the ritual I had grown so fond of, but nothing ever tasted the way I wanted it to. Nothing ever gave me that same experience that my cup of “real” coffee did. I knew there had to be something better, but I simply could not find it on my health food store’s shelves.
Necessity is the mother of invention so that is why I created my own coffee substitutes. They were made with organic, sustainably harvested herbs with zero grains, zero gluten, and zero caffeine. Just herbs.
Herbs that not only tasted delicious but supported my body’s function, like liver detox, bile production, digestion, etc. All of the herbs used in my “coffee” blends have been used for thousands of years to support the body’s normal functions and help everything work a little better — something we all need in today’s toxic world! (psst, dandelion is one of the herbs!)
When it came to creating these blends, if I could get something to not only tasted amazing (and helped me recreate my dearly loved ritual), but also did amazingly supportive things for my body, then it’s a no brainer!
I sold these pre-made blends on Etsy for awhile and the demand was more than I could keep up with. People literally LOVED these blends and were stunned at how much like coffee they actually tasted. Customers who had been dealing with a variety of chronic illnesses had given up coffee to heal their bodies, but like me were deeply missing their morning cup of joe ritual.
After careful consideration and work with some highly experienced advisors, I decided to stop selling the pre-made blends and instead share my proprietary recipes in the form of an eBook. That way I could arm people with the knowledge and recipes they needed to make their own caffeine-free, gluten-free, grain-free blends in the comfort of their own home.
That is why I created the best-selling DIY Herbal Coffees eBook: A Complete Guide To Making Delicious Herbal Coffees to Support Healing & Stress Relief.
Now in its second edition, this ebook features:
- All of my proprietary herbal blend recipes to you can craft a homemade herbal cup of “coffee” at home.
- A ton of researched information about coffee’s impact on the health of those dealing with issues like adrenal fatigue, blood sugar dysregulation, autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, and any other chronic illness.
- Information about all of the herbs used, why I selected them, how to source them, how to prepare and store you “coffees”, and much more.
- Access to your own personal coffee shop where I show you how to recreate your favorite coffee shop drinks and pastries with wholesome, nourishing real food ingredients. No junk here. Only real food.
This book truly is a comprehensive guide to supporting your health, reducing your stress, and bringing a little something special back into your healing journey. You can learn more and download your own copy of this revolutionary wellness guide here, or simply click on the image below.
- “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“, Antioxidants for Health and Longevity
- “Cinnamon, ground“, The World’s Healthiest Foods
- Phở soup image courtesy of Wikipedia
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!
Hi Katie – It will go by Saigon or Vietnamese, interchangeably. I think Frontier refers to it as Vietnamese. If you go here: http://www.frontiercoop.com/products.php?ct=spicesaz&cn=Cinnamon+Sticks, it is the top one, the Frontier Bulk Cinnamon Sticks, Vietnamese Premium, 2 3/4″ (5% oil) ORGANIC 16 Foil Bag (cinnamomum loureirii).
It is called Vietnamese Cinnamon.
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!
I’m a bit addicted to cinnamon myself. I love adding it to savory dishes because people don’t typically expect it.
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.
How could I have missed this post? I love cinnamon as well – and Saigon is delicious!
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
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! 🙂
Hmm, just got some and it was not the scent/flavor I was looking for. And it does seem a bit oily. Still searching.
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.
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,
So simple! I bet it’s delish. I’m going to try that! 🙂
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…
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! 🙂
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!
Thanks for sharing D’Ann! This is great info! 🙂
I’m a cinnamon-girl, too. Just recently discovered Saigon cinnamon and it became my favorite immediately. I have yet to buy the sticks of the spice, but Watkins makes a mean ground Saigon cinnamon. I use the spice in my protein shakes, on cereal, in coffee, on yogurt, in chocolate recipes, and in (MY FAVORITE) coffee with Irish Cream liquor. Thank God for cinnamon!
Yum! There’s nothing like high-quality cinnamon! YUM!
I have used Vietnamese cinnamon for a few years. Any other cinnamon seems tasteless by comparison.
Hi Ana! I agree! While I use several different forms of cinnamon in my kitchen, Saigon is my favorite as it’s so spicy and powerful!
I want to brew a tea with rooibos and Vietnamese cinnamon and drink it cold. Honest T brand makes a “Cinnamon sunrise herbal tea” beverage like this, but it is so hard to find, I need to make it myself. What’s the best way to do This?
Hi Lisa! I’ve never tried that combo, but I’d just add a little ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick into your rooibos as you brew it. You’ll likely have to play around with proportions to get the taste how you like it. Have fun! 🙂