12 Facts About Cinnamon

cinnamon sticks and cinnamon powder on a table

Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices in the world. With its sweet, warming taste and spicy-sweet aroma, cinnamon enhances both sweet and savory dishes. But cinnamon is more than just a tasty addition to apple pies and curries. This ancient spice has a long and storied history, and modern science is revealing an array of health benefits.

Read on to discover 12 fascinating cinnamon facts that will give you new appreciation for this versatile spice!


Cinnamon comes from the bark of tropical, evergreen cinnamon trees. It has been used for medicine, embalming, and cooking for thousands of years. Today, cinnamon ranks as one of the most popular spices in the world. From cinnamon buns to cinnamon tea, this aromatic spice adds warmth, sweetness, and intrigue to foods and beverages across cultures.

Beyond its culinary uses, modern research shows that cinnamon boasts an array of health benefits. From boosting brain function to regulating blood sugar levels, science continues to reveal new therapeutic uses for cinnamon. Join us as we explore 12 fascinating facts about this ancient, yet cutting-edge spice.

12 Facts About Cinnamon

Bowl Of Cinnamon Sticks

1. Cinnamon Has Been Prized for Millennia

The first recorded use of cinnamon dates back to 2800 BC in Ancient Egypt, where it was used in embalming and anointing oils. Chinese writings also document cinnamon cultivation over 4,000 years ago.

For centuries, cinnamon was more precious than gold. In the Middle Ages, European doctors used cinnamon imports from Asia and Africa to treat coughing, arthritis, and sore throats.

2. There Are Four Main Types of Cinnamon

Cinnamon comes from a few different species of cinnamon tree native to South and Southeast Asia. The four main types are:

  • Ceylon cinnamon: Known as “true cinnamon,” it has a refined, floral, sweet flavor.
  • Cassia cinnamon: Darker in color with a stronger, spicier flavor. The most common variety today.
  • Saigon cinnamon: A type of cassia with an exceptionally strong flavor.
  • Korintje cinnamon: A type of cassia milder in flavor than other cassias.

3. Cinnamon Gets Its Flavor from Cinnamaldehyde

The compound cinnamaldehyde gives cinnamon its flavor and aroma. As cinnamon ages, cinnamaldehyde levels decrease, resulting in mellower flavor.

4. Cinnamon Sticks Are Actually Curled Tree Bark

Cinnamon sticks, also called quills, actually come from strips of inner bark from cinnamon trees. As the bark dries, it curls into long cinnamon stick shapes.

black ceramic jar on black surface

5. Cinnamon Is High in Antioxidants

Cinnamon is loaded with polyphenols and phenolic acid, which act as antioxidants in the body. In fact, one study found cinnamon to have the highest antioxidant content by weight of any spice!

6. It Can Help Manage Blood Sugar

Multiple studies have shown cinnamon supplements can reduce fasting blood sugar levels. Though more research is needed, cinnamon shows potential for helping manage type 2 diabetes.

7. It Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

Cinnamon improves multiple heart disease risk factors, including high LDL cholesterol levels and high triglycerides. Research shows as little as 1/2 teaspoon per day offers benefits.

8. Cinnamon Boosts Brain Function

From improved memory to enhanced cognition, cinnamon shows promise as a brain health boosting supplement, especially for those with neurological disorders.

9. Cinnamon Has Antimicrobial Properties

Compounds in cinnamon bark oil have been shown to fight bacteria and fungi, including Candida. This explains its traditional use for gastrointestinal issues.

10. Cinnamon Improves Sensitivity to Insulin

In those with insulin resistance, cinnamon can increase cellular uptake of blood sugar, helping mitigate or prevent diabetes development.

11. Cinnamon Oil Can Preserve Foods

Cinnamon oil has been shown to fight E. coli and other dangerous bacteria that contaminate food. This makes it a potential natural preservative!

12. Cinnamon Repels Mosquitoes

Some studies indicate cinnamon oil may effectively repel disease-carrying mosquitoes when applied to the skin, clothing, or around the home.


From flavoring our foods to preserving their freshness, cinnamon has served humanity well for millennia. Today, modern applications of this ancient spice continue to emerge.

chocolate wafer sticks

Frequently Asked Questions About Cinnamon

What is cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several tree species from the genus Cinnamomum. It is widely used as an aromatic condiment and flavoring additive in various cuisines.

Where does cinnamon come from?

Cinnamon is derived from several species of trees within the genus Cinnamomum. The most well-known type is Cinnamomum verum, also known as “Ceylon cinnamon,” which originates from Sri Lanka. However, most of the cinnamon in international commerce is derived from other species, usually referred to as “cassia.”

What are the different types of cinnamon?

The commercial spice products known as cinnamon come from several species, including Cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon), C. burmanni (Indonesian cinnamon or Padang cassia), C. cassia (Chinese cinnamon or Chinese cassia), C. loureiroi (Saigon cinnamon or Vietnamese cassia), and C. citriodorum (Malabar cinnamon).

How is cinnamon used in food?

Cinnamon bark is used as a spice in a wide variety of dishes, including sweet and savory cuisines, breakfast cereals, snack foods, teas, hot chocolate, and traditional foods. It is also used in pickling and in Christmas drinks such as eggnog.

Are there any health considerations related to consuming cinnamon?

Cinnamon has a long history of use in traditional medicine, and some studies have explored its potential effects on conditions like diabetes and cholesterol levels. However, current evidence is inconclusive, and there are concerns about high coumarin levels in some types of cinnamon, which can be toxic in large quantities. Always consume cinnamon in moderation and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any health concerns related to its consumption.

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