It's Hot Chocolate Season But Hold Off That Cinnamon Until You've Read This!
Marshmallows in hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with cinnamon.
Oooh, sounds like a match made in food heaven, specially during the holiday season.
The icing on the cake? Well, the cinnamon in our beloved hot cocoas offers tons of health benefits such as antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory effects to help lower your risk of disease, the ability to improve some key risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, reduce fasting blood sugar levels and and and! Its high Cinnamaldehyde content also has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, which may reduce infections and help fight tooth decay and bad breath.
But before you head out to stock up on this magical ingredient, I'll have to let you in on a little secret:
Not all cinnamon is created equal.
There are essentially two main types of cinnamon namely the Ceylon cinnamon also known as “true” cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon, the more common variety today and what people generally refer to as “cinnamon.”
So what's the big deal?
Yes, both types of cinnamon still offer the health benefits described above, however, the Cassia variety contains significant amounts of a compound called coumarin, which is believed to be harmful in large doses.
Coumarin is a natural plant chemical that acts as a blood thinner and it is present in much higher concentrations in Cassia than in Ceylon cinnamon, which may be very important if you are taking certain hepatotoxic medications and preparing to undergo a surgical or dental procedure as you'll increase your risk of bleeding.
Though coumarin is a natural ingredient, it carries the risk of causing liver damage or failure in sensitive individuals, especially among those who consume the Cassia cinnamon daily, or in large amounts. Cassia cinnamon has high levels of coumarin, which is why some European countries have even banned the Cassia variety.
Cassia contains approximately 1% coumarin, while Ceylon contains only 0.004%, or 250 times less. This is so low that it’s often undetectable.
It already sounds like Ceylon is the preferable one but here's yet another reason why you should use Ceylon Cinnamon in your hot cocoa.