Benefit of Taking Small Doses of Vietnamese Cinnamon Daily
Vietnamese Cinnamon, also known as Saigon cinnamon or Saigon Cassia. It is mainly produced in central and northern Vietnam, and is a staple spice used in Vietnamese cuisines . There are 4 main varieties of cinnamon – Ceylon, Cassia, Saigon, and Korintje. However, since Cassia, Saigon, and Korintje are very similar in colour, shape, and coumarin content, the three types are all classified as Cassia cinnamon scientifically .
This narrows down to two main types of cinnamon: Ceylon and Cassia . The uniqueness of Cassia cinnamon is that although both contain coumarin, it is present in Cassia at a much higher level than Ceylon cinnamon . Coumarin is the substance that gives cinnamon its flavor, and is commonly found in citrus fruits or green tea, as well as nutrient-dense foods such as celery, strawberries, and apricots, but not as much in concentration compared to that in Cassia cinnamon  . Particularly in Vietnamese cinnamon, it contains 1 to 5% essential oil, 25% cinnamaldehyde, which is the highest amongst all cinnamon varieties .
The main healing properties of cinnamon include anti-clotting, anti-microbial, blood sugar control, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardio protective, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and is a cognitive enhancer .
The cinnamaldehyde present cinnamon is helpful in reducing blood clot by preventing blood platelets from clumping up. The biological process that occurs inside human bodies is that the cinnamaldehyde inhibits the release of inflammatory fatty acid, arachidonic acid, which in turn prevents the formation of thromboxane, an inflammatory substance . Hence, cinnamon is also considered anti-inflammatory. A study also concluded cinnamon and its benefits to minimizing heart diseases. Both cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid found in cinnamon contain anti-inflammatory properties, as they produce nitric oxide , which increases blood circulation and reduces blood pressure . Additionally, coumarin is beneficial to improving blood circulation and is anti-clotting as it is a precursor to anticoagulant medications . It works by increasing the production of antithrombin, a protein that reduces blood clot .
Cinnamon contains essential oils that have anti-microbial properties . There was a study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology that concluded the additional of only a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to 100ml of broth, slowed down the growth of pathogenic bacteria . This also means that cinnamon oil acts as a food preservative against foodborne microorganisms such as E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria, yeast and mold .
Animal studies have shown that there are anti-cancer properties in Cassia cinnamon. It reduced the growth and prevented the survival of tumor cells in vitro, with minimal effect on normal cells .
Another benefit of cinnamon consumption is having its blood sugar stabilizing property . Cinnamon helps activate insulin receptors, as well as blocks enzymes that would inactivate these receptors. As a result, cinnamon helps our bodies to effectively process glucose . A study conducted by the US Agricultural Research Service showed that as little as half a teaspoon of cinnamon consumption per day helped reduce blood sugar level for ones with type 2 diabetes . With a consumption of 1g of cinnamon per day, the study showed a reduction of 20% in blood sugar, as well as reduction of cholesterol and triglycerides level .
Other beneficial properties of coumarin found in Cassia cinnamon include antifungal, antiviral, anti-hypertensive, neuro-protective, and anti-hyperglycemic . Some studies indicated that coumarin helps reduce swelling of one’s limbs, resulting in lymphedema .
Furthermore, the benefits of cinnamon go beyond consumption. A research done by Dr. Zoladz from the Association for Chemoreception Sciences in Florida, showed that the scent of cinnamon helped enhance participants’ attention, memory, and motor speed , which makes it an excellent cognitive enhancer.
How Vietnamese Cinnamon is different than regular cinnamon
A research study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, done by a nutritionist at the University of California, Davis, concluded that cinnamon lowers fasting blood glucose (National Public Radio, 2013). The study showed a 3 to 5% reduction, which is approximately the same effectiveness level as some diabetes drugs (National Public Radio, 2013). Considering that almost every 1 in 4 people have pre-diabetes (National Public Radio, 2013), understanding the health benefits of cinnamon usage can be useful, especially for pre-diabetics who would like to reduce blood sugar levels through their diets. Cinnamon is also a great source of manganese, fibre, and calcium .
Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Cassia cinnamon has been used long in history of Traditional Chinese Medicine, for increasing energy levels and circulation . It is also used for the relief of common symptoms such as gas, colds, nausea, diarrhea, and menstrual cramps .
Recommended Daily Intake
There is approximately 1% of coumarin in Cassia cinnamon, compared to only 0.004% in Ceylon cinnamon . To put into perspective, consuming a few teaspoons of Cassia cinnamon can easily exceed the recommended daily intake limit .
The recommended coumarin daily intake is up to 0.1mg per kg of body weight, as per the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) .
A study conducted by Dr. White from Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, showed that a daily dosage of 1g to 6g was a reasonable amount for glucose reduction . As 1 teaspoon of Cassia cinnamon is about 3g , this is equivalent too about 1/3 of a teaspoon and up to 2 teaspoon per day.
Another research study performed by Dr. Crawford, published in the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine, showed that a daily low dose consumption of Cassia cinnamon is helpful in type 2 diabetes treatment . During the study, patients received 180 capsules of 500mg Cassia cinnamon, taken daily, at two capsules per day . It was concluded that a daily intake of 1g would help control type 2 diabetes, and is considered to be safe for daily consumption .
Cinnamon is relatively inexpensive to include into one’s daily diet, and it is relatively safe for consumption at low dosages .
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