Cinnamon

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Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice commonly used in sweet pastry such as gingerbread and apple pie. It is also used in warm dishes, predominantly in Asian cuisine (for example, Indian curries), but also in moussaka, a Greek potato dish.

Origin

Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum. The bark while drying curls into rolls ("quills") and is subsequently pulverized. There are various species of Cinnamon trees. The most important variety is a species indigenous to Sri Lanka (Ceylon cinnamon or Sri Lanka cinnamon, cinnamomum verum). The ground cinnamon available in supermarkets usually is the cheaper (and somewhat sweeter) variety, Chinese cassia or Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia).

Coumarin

The substance mainly responsible for the aroma and flavour of cinnamon is coumarin. Chinese cinnamon contains much higher levels of coumarin than the Ceylon variety. Consuming coumarin in large quantities can be dangerous to your health. Coumarin and a number of its derivatives are being used in medicine as anticoagulants. For this reason it is known that a prolonged intake of high dosages of coumarin can cause liver damage. However, eating a few cinnamon pastries each day will not cause dangerous levels of coumarin in your system.

Pregnancy and consumption of coumarin

To protect public health the European Union has set maximum levels of coumarin that retail bakery products are allowed to contain. Consumption of normal quantities of these products does not pose any problem at all. However, as a precautionary measure it is advised not to consume several products or dishes containing cinnamon on a daily basis over a prolonged period of time. This especially applies to pregnant women. Pregnant women are not required to ban cinnamon entirely from their diets, but it is advisable to only consume products that contain (Chinese) cinnamon with moderation. A sufficiently varied diet normally does not pose any health risks. Cinnamon lovers are best advised to choose Ceylon cinnamon, as this variety contains the lowest level of coumarin of all cinnamon varieties.

External links

www.efsa.europa.eu

Author

The first version of this article was written by Harrie Storms. The translation of this article is kindly provided by Caren Apers.

Tags

Food, cinnamon, fable, fables, fact, facts.


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Information published via Babypedia must not in any way be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. It must not be used in place of the advice of your physician, dietician or other qualified health care provider. The texts on Babypedia intend to provide a better understanding of certain topics, they are not suitable for (self)diagnostics. Please contact a medical professional in the appropriate area of expertise in order to obtain a professional opinion.

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