Cinnamon, and its relative cassia, have long been prized for both flavor and medicine. Romans used cinnamon to make their strong, bitter wine palatable, Greeks to season meat and vegetable dishes, Arabs in tea, and nearly everyone in baked goods. English nobility hoarded to delicate Ceylon cinnamon to flavor breads and puddings.
Fragrant cinnamon spice is one of the highly prized spices that has been in use since biblical times for its medicinal and culinary properties. This delightfully exotic, sweet-flavored spice stick is traditionally obtained from the outer brown bark of Cinnamomum trees, which when dried, rolls into a tubular form known commercially as “quill.”
The cinnamon plant is a small, evergreen bushy tree belonging to the family of Lauraceae or laurel within the genus; Cinnamomum. This novel spice is native to Sri Lankan island but also found in many other countries such as Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, China, and Indonesia.
Varieties of the cinnamon-tree exist; however, Sri Lankan variety is regarded as “true cinnamon” and scientifically named as Cinnamonum verum. Traditionally, the inner bark is bruised with a brass rod, peeled and long incisions are made in the bark. It is then rolled by hand and allowed to dry in the sunlight.
It is the bark of the tree from where aromatic essential oil (makes up 0.5% to 1% of its composition) is extracted. Usually, the oil is processed by roughly pounding the bark, macerating it in seawater, and then quickly distilling the whole. The oil features golden-yellow color, with the characteristic odor of cinnamon and a very hot aromatic taste. The pungent taste and scent in cinnamon spice are due to compound cinnamic aldehyde and cinnamaldehyde in the oil.
Cassia, also known as chinese cinnamon, is a different member of Lauraceae family and named as Cinnamomum cassia. Cassia is coarser, more spicy, and pungent but less fragrant than cinnamon. It is usually substituted for the cinnamon in savory dishes.
Calories: The total calorie content in 6.8 g of cinnamon is 17. Out of this, only 1 calorie is contributed by fats (total fat content is 0.2 g per 1 tablespoon) and zero percent from saturated fats. Overall, it is good for health conscious people.
– Carbohydrates: The amount of carbohydrates in 1 tablespoon serving size is approximately 5.5 g. Unlike other carbohydrate containing food items, it shows a negligible amount of sugar (only 0.1g per 1 tablespoon).
– Dietary Fiber: The high percentage content of dietary fiber (3.6 g in 1 tablespoon) also makes it a preferred spice among people having digestive problems. Using it regularly will reduce indigestion, constipation, and intestinal disorders.
– Protein: The concentration of protein in cinnamon is relatively low, as compared to that of calcium, iron, and dietary fiber content. Serving 6.8 g of the same will provide you 0.3 g proteins. Needless to say, you get proteins from other food ingredients. So, it is not at all a concerning issue.
– Calcium and Iron: It is good source of calcium and iron; having 1 tablespoon of cinnamon is sufficient to yield 14 percent calcium and 31 percent iron of the daily requirements of an adult. Nevertheless, the requirements may vary slightly as per your calorie needs.
– Other Nutrients: It also contains high amounts of vitamin A and C along with minerals like zinc, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. A 6.8 g serving provides 20 percent vitamin A and 12 percent vitamin C of the daily requirements of an adult.
In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, cinnamon spice is generally ground just before preparing dishes and added at the last moment in the cooking recipes, because prolonged cooking results in evaporation of essential oils.
– The essential oil, eugenol, has been in therapeutic use in dentistry as a local-anesthetic and antiseptic for teeth and gum.
– Eugenol also has been found to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics, but further detailed studies required to establish its benefits.
– The extraction from the sticks (decoction) is sometimes used in treating flatulence and indigestion in traditional medicine.
– The spice is used in traditional medicines to stave off common cold and oxidant stress conditions.
– It is also used as a natural food preservative.
Uncooked cinnamon spice can cause choking and respiratory distress. Excessive use of the cinnamon stick may cause inflammation of taste buds, gum swelling, and mouth ulcers. Large quantities can cause difficulty breathing, dilate blood vessels, and cause sleepiness, depression, or even convulsions.
In Indonesia, the 7 different types of quality cinnamon bark Cinnamomun burmannii (Cassia Vera) ie AA vera, Vera A, B Vera, Vera C, KA, KB and K C. In this experiment investigated rendimen and physico-chemical properties of cinnamon bark oil KA, KB and KC generated of refining petroleum distillates are steamed.Rendemen cinnamon bark KA,
KB and KC are respectively 0.86%, 0.47% and 0.35%. Cinnamon bark oil K A better quality of skin oils KB or KC, among others, because the content of the component sinnamaldehidanya higher. Besides, cinnamon bark oil KA characteristics approaching oil specifications set EO C. zeylanicum Cinnamon A. KA is the best source of essential oils as though the price is relatively high, because yield and quality of the oil produced is quite high.