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Spice up your holidays with brain-healthy seasonings

December 7, 2016

About the Author

photo of Uma Naidoo, MD

Uma Naidoo, MD, Contributor

Dr. Uma Naidoo is a nutritional psychiatrist and serves as the director of nutritional & lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is on the faculty at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Naidoo trained at the Harvard … See Full Bio
View all posts by Uma Naidoo, MD


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John Tye
December 10, 2016

Best to use Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon), also known as Cinnamomum verum, or true cinnamon.

Not Cinnamomum cassia or Cinnamomum burmannii.

True cinnamon has the same flavor as cassia, but it’s much lower in coumarin, and much less likely to be toxic.

When consumed in large quantities, coumarin can be toxic, affecting the nervous system and the liver. Cassia contains higher levels of coumarin (approximately 4%), while the amount in Ceylon cinnamon is approx. 0.04%.

See: Assessment of Coumarin Levels in Ground Cinnamon…
J. Blahová – ‎2012

Jean B.
December 12, 2016

Thank you for that additional important information. Now I am wondering whether the backs of the “cinnamon” labels clarify what the content is. (I know that one major US spice purveyor does, but, much to my dismay, they changed the front of the label to “cinnamon”, although the content is cassia. I need to examine the brands that are found in major US supermarkets.) Given this information about coumarin and the benefits of using true cinnamon, it is important to know what one is using.

Linda W.
December 10, 2016

The whipped cream and cinnamon buns you recommend are full of saturated fat. Eating a diet high in saturated fat contributes to high cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis increases the risk of events hazardous to brain health – including vascular dementia and strokes.

Jean B.
December 9, 2016

I believe that when you speak of cinnamon, you are speaking of true cinnamon and not cassia. You should probably point out that most of what appears with the label “cinnamon” in the United States is actually cassia.

Perhaps you could also tell us whether or not cassia has any useful medical properties.

T. Adler
December 8, 2016

What is your scientific evidence for this? Are they large randomized clinical trials?

December 9, 2016

She links to the studies in the article.

Commenting has been closed for this post.

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