[Functional Food] Cinnamon II

February 23, 2022

Cinnamon actually comes from the inner bark of the specific trees – members of the genus Cinnamomum in the family Lauraceae. Lauraceae Cinnamomum is an evergreen tree where its inner bark is dried and curled into rolls or rods, or even processed into powder, forming a variety of cinnamon products.

There are two main varieties of cinnamon – the Ceylon (or the “true”) cinnamon (Cinnamomum Verum) and Cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum Cassia). Even though some trees from the genus Cinnamomum are aromatic and fragrant, they are not cinnamon if they are not from the family Lauraceae. Still, they are being widely used especially in Asia.

Fun Fact

Cinnamon is actually the bark of a tree, and NOT the fruit!

The DIFFERENCE between Ceylon Cinnamon and Cassia Cinnamon

Ceylon CinnamonCassia Cinnamon
Sri Lanka, Madagascar, SeychellesOriginChina, Vietnam, India
Golden YellowColourReddish brown
Consist of thin layers rolled into a tube, with a cross-section like a cigar
and a smoother appearance
AppearanceRolled inward of a single thick layer
into a cylindrical shape with a rough appearance
Fresh and light, spicy with sweetnessAromaDeep and rich, spicy with bitterness
Relatively rare {also known as “real cinnamon”)PopularityThe most commonly used cinnamon, accounting for 75% of the market supply
Cinnamaldehyde (50-63%), linalool, eugenolComponentsCinnamaldehyde (up to 95%), coumarin, eucalyptol


Coumarin is naturally present in foods like cinnamon, soybean sprouts, lavender and so on, but scientists discovered that it could cause harm to both liver and kidneys, cause lung tumors and even cancer in animal experiment. Therefore, the European Union has established coumarins level in food.

According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Tolerable Daily Intake (TOI) of coumarin is 0.1 mg per 1 kg body weight per day (i.e. 6 mg for a 60 kg individual). As shown in the above table, using three tablespoons (18 grams) of cinnamon powder to make nine cinnamon rolls as recipe would produce, per cinnamon roll, the average coumarin content of less than 1mg (and a total of 5.6mg per 9 rolls), in which you can eat without health concern. However, if Vietnamese cinnamon is used instead, each cinnamon roll would have an astonishing 14 mg of coumarin, which is 22 times of rolls made with Chinese cinnamon and 410 times of rolls made with Ceylon cinnamon. The coumarin of just half of the cinnamon roll made with Vietnamese Cinnamon has already exceeded the daily upper limit for a 60kg individual.

Cinnamon OriginCoumarin Content per 1 gram of Cinnamon powder (mg)
*According to Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry research.


Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, Manipal Journal of Medical Sciences, RMIT University in Melbourne, National Centre for Biotechnology Information, PCOS Awareness Association, Metabolism – Clinical and Experimental, Journal of Comparative Chemistry, International Journal of Food Science Volume 2019, Food Control Volume 38, The Scientific World Journal Volume 2012, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Volume 61, Issue 18, PMID: 23627682, 24148965, 10725162, 16896937, 11506060, 26109781, 26023350